Gel manicures expose you to UV radiation – here’s what scientists say you can do to minimise skin cancer risk

The Straits Times

Gel manicures have become somewhat of a norm among nail-colour fans, thanks to their long-lasting quality and ease of application.

But these manicures, which require the use of UV or LED lamps, could also be doing more harm than expected.

Research published by the Australasian Journal of Dermatology on Wednesday (Mar 28) suggests that while the science is so far largely inconclusive, people who regularly get gel manicures should apply broad spectrum sunscreen before sticking their hands in these manicure lamps.

According to Australia’s Science Channel, Stephanie Bollard from the University Hospital Galway in Ireland, found in an online survey of 424 people that only 9% believed there was a cancer risk with LED lamps. But 82% said they would not continue getting gel manicures if a risk was found.

Bollard’s team found that while studies have suggested that exposure risk is negligible in manicures, some findings also suggested that the DNA damage done by LED lamps could be higher than expected.

It doesn’t help that only 3% of respondents said they applied sunscreen before a manicure.

Nail polish lamps are largely unregulated, and many brands produce different lamps with different UV strengths.

But studies suggest that UV exposure over the long term could still increase the risk of skin cancer.

Consumers can protect themselves by applying sunscreen or wearing fingerless gloves before placing their hands in these UV or LED devices.

The evidence on this subject is variable and often controversial, leaving the health-care provider with no clear conclusion, and further research is warranted.

“In the interim, we agree with the advice that approximately 20 minutes before having a manicure a broad spectrum, high sun protection factor sunscreen is applied to the hands, or the use of fingerless gloves should be considered,” quoted the researchers as saying.