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Will Drying Your Nail Polish with UV Lights Give You Finger Cancer?

Posted Jan 03 2013 1:02am

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Rozy asks…How likely is it that you will get skin cancer from gel nails?  Would putting sunblock on your fingers before getting a gel mani help? 

The Beauty Brains respond:

Given the legitimate concerns raised about UV tanning beds causing skin cancer it seems perfectly reasonable to be worried about similar health dangers from the UV lights used to cure gel nail polish. (The UV radiation causes the polymers in the polish to “cross-link” which makes the polish harder and longer lasting.)

We originally speculated that using sunscreen would protect your skin around the nail bed but that the nail polish itself should absorb UV radiation so it doesn’t pass through your nail to the skin beneath it. But now we have data that definitively answers this question. (At least as definitive as you can get from a single study.)

According to an article by Heather Onorati, which was published in the December 12, 2012 edition of Dermatology Times, researchers from three hospitals (Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Providence, R.I) measured  the UV light produced by these nail drying lamps. They compared their output to the FDA’s guidelines for photo devices that have already been proven to be safe. Results showed that the nail drying lamps produce only a “tiny fraction” of these other devices and therefore they “do not appear to increase the lifetime risk of skin cancer.”

So it looks like gel nails are safe after all!

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Reference: Journal of Investigative Dermatology


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