The dismissed dangers of UV lights in nail salons

Emily Clarke

There’s no better feeling than getting a fresh manicure from a salon, that high gloss shine and vibrant, neat finish. For many of us, we just go to our favourite nail artist every now and then, never thinking about the possible damage it may be having on our skin.

For shellac and acrylic manicures the gel polishes used need to be cured under an ultraviolet (UV) light. The UV light allows the polish to harden, making these types of manicures more durable and last longer than regular nail polish. What’s not to like?

We all know UV rays can be harmful to our skin, but do we ever actually think about that when we’re getting our nails done? If you use a tanning bed to achieve your tan, you should always put sunscreen on beforehand to avoid any damage or burns.

While the UV rays from nail lamps aren’t as harmful as those from a tanning bed, you are still at risk of damaging your skin. Don’t worry just yet, the damage may not have happened just yet (depending on how obsessed you are with getting your nails done).

According to Reuters Health, research carried out on 17 nail salon lamps found that it would take 208 manicures to damage your skin cells and increase the risk of cancer.

Lead author of the research, Dr Lynday Shipp, from Georgia Regents University in Augusta told Reuters Health: “I wouldn’t tell a patient to stop going unless they were going unless they were going multiple times a month.”

In comparison, tanning beds are much more harmful than nail lamps. In 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) labelled them as high-level carcinogens, something that can cause cancer. This label means tanning beds are as harmful to public health as smoking is.

Shipp said you can’t guarantee the nail lamps are safe, but they are relatively safe. She said: “Personally, I won’t stop getting manicures myself.”

While the risk is quite low, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to keep your skin safe and healthy. Normally when you get your nails done, the technician will prime and prep your nails.

Why not bring your own SPF and ask them to put it on for you before using the lamp? If you don’t feel comfortable asking, apply some before you leave the house. Experts recommend using at least SPF 30 to protect yourself from UV rays.

If you’re sitting on the beach on a hot day you wouldn’t not put sunscreen on, you’d want to protect your skin from wrinkling and potentially developing skin cancer. We shouldn’t neglect our hands and fingers when we get our nails done – it only takes a few seconds to ensure your skin remains as safe and healthy as possible.

Author: Emily Clarke

Image Credit: RashidKhreiss on Unsplash