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Are Gel Manis Putting Me At A Risk For Skin Cancer?

Are Gel Manis Putting Me At A Risk For Skin Cancer?

A study has now linked getting manicures to cancer. I know that exposure to UV light in general isn’t safe. But I didn’t think that would include my harmless-looking manicure lamps!

I did some reading recently, and it’s true. It is risky. Even Dr. Sneha Ghunawat, Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetologist, pitched in. Here’s what you must know about the UV lamps.

What Does A U.V Lamp Do?

I remember asking my manicurist what a UV lamp does. She explained to me that the appliance dries and sets the gel polish quickly. This process involves putting your fingers under the lamp for about a minute. You do this twice or thrice for each hand to ‘cure’ the nail.

I just scroll through my phone while this happens. But there’s more to it that has me worried.


What Does This New Study Claim?

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh decided to assesses the effects of this radiation on the skin. Are these lamps bad for your skin? They put it to the test.

What They Did: They exposed a vitro/petri dish of cells (derived from humans and mice) to the radiation. They did this thrice, for 20 minutes per round.

What They Found: They found that the radiation killed 65% to 70% of the cells. More exposure caused more cells to die. But that wasn’t even the most concerning part of the experiment!

It damaged the DNA and led to cancer-causing mutations that alarmed the researchers. But this doesn’t mean the lamp will cause cancer for sure. It’s simply a trigger.


What’s The Verdict: Dr. Sneha Ghunawat believes that this is a precursor to cancer. “Though it’s theoretical, there’s always a possibility of DNA damage and skin cancer in the long run,” she says.

This exposure can even age your cells faster by breaking down collagen and elastin. Both of these proteins are responsible for the firmness of the skin.

What Can We Do To Make It Safer?

You might not have to stop doing your nails entirely. But it’s best to reduce the frequency. Long-term exposure can cause cancer on the nails, around the nail bed, and on the fingers.

How do you protect the hands from UV light, then? Here are some things I’m going to do to reduce the risk in general.


But there’s no evidence that directly links the lamps to cancer.

This study performed the test on cells rather than on humans with more intense and frequent exposure. But exposure to any form of radiation can put you at risk.

Dr. Ghunawat warned me against the side-effects of gel manicures too. She told me that they can cause drying, cracking, and weakening of the nail over time.

I think I’m going to settle for my natural nails and regular nail paints going forward.


Featured Image: Instagram

02 Feb 2023

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