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Gel Polish Safety Questions

By: WSAW Staff Email
By: WSAW Staff Email

Sometimes it seems like there's a nail salon on every corner. Manicures and pedicures are a quick way to pamper yourself and put your best hand or foot forward.

“Every once in a while for a special occasion I do get manicures. I do because I have a special occasion coming up,” explains Rachel Kessler.

It all adds up to more than 7 billion dollars a year and more than a quarter of those dollars goes to gel manicures. They're pricey, but popular because they last much longer then regular nail polish manicure.

But the ingredient that makes them last are activated when exposed to ultraviolet light. The same UV light that's used in tanning beds that have been linked to skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.

While there is risk a dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center says that risk is low.

“In a study that was analyzing the strength of these lamps and comparing them with tanning beds, the conclusion was the actual risk of inducing skin cancer by using these lamps is actually quite low. it's not zero, but it's quite low,” explains Dr. Chris Adigun.

While there have been rare reports of skin cancer in women who got gel manicures, it's impossible to say the uv lights caused it. The actual risk depends on how often you get a gel manicure but even frequent users are likely at very low risk. What the uv light is more likely to do is cause premature aging, wrinkling and spotting of your hands.

The bigger problem with gel manicures according to Dr Adigun is the chemicals that are in the polish and what it takes to remove the long lasting polish.

Dr. Adigun says the ingredients can induce certain types of contact dermatitis or allergy, allergic contact dermatitis in people, as well as the dryness that can happen from the removal process and exposure to the acetone.

The doctor's advice is to get a pair of uv blocking gloves and cut off the fingertips, or lay a towel over your hands. He says sunscreen isn't a bad idea either.


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