The gel manicure is a regular part of many people’s beauty routine.
The polish gives a long-lasting, high-gloss finish that’s dry to the touch soon after being cured under a dedicated lamp that emits UV light. The UV nail lamps are a common sight in nail salons and can also be purchased cheaply online.
A new study however, has given weight to concerns regular use of the lights put skin at risk.
Researchers from the University of California San Diego have published new research in scientific journal Nature Communications that shows exposure to the lamps can damage DNA and cause permanent mutations in human cells.
By exposing different human and animal cell types to the UV nail lamps, they observed that just one 20-minute session led to between 20-30% cell death, while three consecutive 20-minute exposures caused between 65-70% of the exposed cells to die.
The researchers state that regular use of these commonly used machines can lead to irreparable damage to human cells, causing mutations in remaining cells similar to those observed in skin cancer.
Having reported their initial findings, the group acknowledged some limitations in that the studies, saying research was done using in vitro cell line models and not in human beings and as such, ‘will not perfectly emulate’ outcomes in human beings.
However the group of researchers says combined with other studies and anecdotal evidence, ‘taken together, our experimental results and the prior evidence strongly suggest that radiation emitted by UV-nail polish dryers may cause cancers of the hand and that UV-nail polish dryers, similar to tanning beds, may increase the risk of early-onset skin cancer.’
The researchers suggest further study is needed to provide more details on the risk of the lamps causing skin cancer.
‘Future large-scale epidemiological studies are warranted to accurately quantify the risk for skin cancer of the hand in people regularly using UV-nail polish dryers’ says the report.
‘It is likely that such studies will take at least a decade to complete and to subsequently inform the general public.’
In the past some dermatologists and nail brands (unrelated to this study) have suggested if you are receiving a gel manicure using a UV curing lights, it’s a good idea to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is at least SPF 30 on your hands at least 20 minutes beforehand.