Gel Manicures
May 21, 2013
Category: Uncategorized
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Don’t Let Your Manicure Go to Gel!

by Caroline Raftopol, PA-C


                 Gel manicures are all the rage nowadays, but they could actually be ravaging your nails, and even worse, your health.  Gel formulas contain added chemicals that make polish long-lasting but can be irritating and damaging to the structure of the nails.  The most nail-biting new information also suggests that the UV lamps used to seal your polished nails may raise your risk of skin cancer!

                  With frequent use gel manicures can cause nail thinning, brittleness, peeling, and cracking.  These manicures often contain more chemical irritants and require soaking in drying agents like acetone for an extended time in order to remove polish.  Chronic inflammation induced by manicures can cause permanent damage to the nails and mask underlying diseases of the nail.

                  Ultraviolet drying lamps in nail salons utilize UVA light, at levels much higher than natural sunlight, to set your manicure.  Salons recommend touching up your manicure every 2-3 weeks, and so you may be receiving repeated exposure to this type of harmful radiation.  UVA radiation contributes to premature aging of the skin and increases the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a type of cancerous tumor of the nails and skin.  A recent study suggests that drying your hands for 10 minutes under one of these devices may be equivalent to the same dose of UVA radiation that an outdoor worker would be exposed to on their hands over an 8-hour workday!

A Cure For Your Manicure:

                  If considering gel manicures, limiting the amount of treatments will help to reduce your risk of chemical and physical irritation, as well as lower your risk of skin cancer, as occasional gel manicures pose no serious risk to nail and skin health.  Also, be sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen on hands and nails before going for your manicure.  Furthermore, patients with known allergies to gel ingredients or to acetone may want to opt for traditional manicures as regular polish does not require pre-soaking in acetone for removal.



American Academy of Dermatology (2013), retrieved on May 1,2013, from

Curtis, J. et al. (2013).  Quanitification of ultraviolet radiation from salon fingernail lamps.  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (68,4); supplemental, AB7



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