As you lounge in your favorite salon chair, flipping through a glossy magazine while the technician meticulously applies layers of gel polish, you're probably not thinking about ultraviolet (UV) radiation. But perhaps it's time to shed some light on this dark issue.
What's the Fuss About UV Radiation? UV radiation comes from a variety of sources, including the sun, tanning beds, and yes, those UV lamps used to cure gel and acrylic nails. While they serve a great purpose in speeding up the drying process, they also emit UV rays, which are a known cause of premature aging and even skin cancer. Skin Cancer: Not Just a Sunbather’s Worry A 2014 study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences examined the UV emission from nail lamps and found that they do produce notable UV radiation. While the risk of developing skin cancer from nail lamps is considered relatively low compared to other sources, why take the chance? The Skin Cancer Foundation advises that you should never underestimate the power of cumulative exposure.
Put on Some Armor So, how can you protect yourself without giving up your beloved mani-pedi routine? The answer is simple: sunscreen. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to your hands about 20 minutes before your appointment. Make sure you don't miss the fingertips, as they're the closest to the light source.
More Ways to Play it Safe
Wear Protective Gloves: Some salons offer fingerless UV-protective gloves that expose only the nails, protecting the rest of your hand.
Opt for LED Lamps: Though not entirely risk-free, LED lamps have a narrower range of UV radiation, making them a safer bet.
Time It Right: Limit the time your hands are under the lamp. Some of the latest technologies can cure polish in just 30 seconds.
The Takeaway In the grand scheme of things, the risk from UV nail lamps is relatively small, but when it comes to skin cancer, even a minor risk is still a risk. As you sit back and admire your freshly painted nails, wouldn't it be nice to know you're doing it safely? So go ahead, apply that sunscreen, and add an extra layer of care to your beauty routine. Remember, looking good shouldn't come at the expense of feeling good. Stay fabulous, but stay protected too!