In order for a gel manicure to be a real gel manicure, it requires UVA light to be applied to the nails to set the polish. Customers must place their fingers under a lamp that emits UVA rays in order for the polish to harder. This could take anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes.
LED lamps harden polish faster than UV lamps. Many fans of gel manicures believe that LED lamps don’t transmit UV light, but that’s not the case. In fact, the LED lamps actually emit stronger UVA rays than the UV lamps. That’s why they work more quickly.
No matter what type of lamp a salon uses to set the gel polish, customers are exposing their fingers to dangerous UVA light that’s even stronger than the light from the sun.
UVA rays penetrate the skin even more deeply than UVB rays, and they can cause sun spots, wrinkles and even skin cancer.
Dr. Chris Adigun is a dermatologist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and she said, “UVA ray exposure increases your risk of skin cancer, and you have to have UVA exposure to cure a gel manicure.”
Adigun noted that while we don’t know for sure if gel manicures can cause skin cancer, it’s a good idea to protect yourself from the risk. She has a couple recommendations.
First of all, you could put sunscreen on your hands before you get a gel manicure, but Adigun actually prefers another method. She says that it’s even more effective to cover your hands with gloves with the fingertips cut out or use another garment like a t-shirt or a scarf to shield your skin from the UV light.
Also, if you’re taking medicines such as an oral antibiotic or doxycycline your skin will be extra sensitive to UV light, so it’s important to be even more cautious to prevent your skin from burning or blistering.
Does it surprise you that gel manicures could cause skin cancer? Do you get gel manicures on a regular basis? Are you going to start protecting your hands with sunscreen or gloves before you get a manicure?
Learn more about what dermatologists say about gel manicures, head on over to The American Academy of Dermatology’s site.