UV-nail Polish Dryers Used For Gel Manicures Can Cause Mutations Leading To Skin Cancer, A New Study Finds.

UV-nail Polish Dryers Used For Gel Manicures Can Cause Mutations Leading To Skin Cancer, A New Study Finds.

Ultraviolet (UV)-nail polish dryers (also known as UV and LED nail lamps), used to harden gel manicures can lead to DNA damage and permanent cancer-causing mutations similar to those seen in patients with skin cancer according to a new study.

Gel manicures are an extremely popular beauty treatment that have become a regular part of beauty routines, with many women getting their nails done every 2-3 weeks. There have been a growing number of case reports in medical journals of women with long-term use of nail lamps developing non-melanoma skin cancer on the back of their hands but the scientific studies up to this point have been inconclusive on the level of risk these nail lamps pose on skin health. 

This study is the first to examine the biological impacts of nail lamp UV exposure on skin cells and was published on Tuesday in Nature Communications. The researchers analysed skin cells exposed to UV light under two different conditions. One condition involved acute exposure with two 20 minute sessions under the UV nail lamps with an hour break in between. The second involved chronic exposure with a 20 minute session under UV lamps for three consecutive days.

The study found that one 20 minute session of exposure to the UV lamps resulted in 20 to 30% cell death and three consecutive 20 minute sessions resulted in 65 to 70% cell death. In the remaining cells, the exposure caused mutations that are typically seen in patients with skin cancer. 

This is the first study to directly study nail lamps' UV exposure on skin cells and has established they can have a damaging effect and more importantly that repeated exposure increases that damage. Twenty minutes isn't a typical amount of time to have your hand in a nail lamp but it isn't just a few seconds either. Hands are more likely to be subjected to UV light for 4-5 minutes per hand during a basic gel manicure and if extensions or nail art are involved that exposure time can double. And with many gel manicure enthusiasts getting their nails done every two weeks over adult life, this exposure adds up. Not to mention nail techs who create content on social media experience even more exposure. 

UV nail lamps emit a specific wavelength of Ultraviolet (UV) light known as UVA. UVA is a type of light also emitted by the sun and makes up about 90% of the UV light that reaches the Earths surface, with wavelengths ranging from 315nm - 400nm. UV nail lamps tend to emit a wavelength range of 365 - 395nm.  UVA penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin, called the dermis. UVA light used in tanning bed devices, is classified as a Group 1 Carcinogen by The International Agency for Research (IARC).

The study was conducted at University of California, San Diego led by bioengineering professor Ludmil Alexandrov.  The researchers used a 54-W nail lamp from the manufacturer Melody Susie.  The author states the experimental results of their in-vitro study combined with prior evidence strongly suggests 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 risk of early-onset skin cancer. As research into the correlation between UV nail lamps and the development of skin cancer is limited, Alexandrov suggests future large-scale epidemiological studies are needed to accurately quantify the risk for skin cancer of the hand in people regularly using UV-nail polish dryers.      

Many dermatologists and other medical professionals recommend the use of fingerless UV protective gloves or the application of sunscreen when getting a gel manicure treatment. Please see MANISAFE's The Science page to learn more about these recommendations. 

Candice Quinn, the CEO of MANISAFE London states "This is an extremely important study to help understand the biological impacts that gel nail lamps have on the health of our hands' skin." MANISAFE London is a small multi-award-winning UK business that advocates for UV protection during gel manicures and offers a collection of UV protective manicure gloves. She continues "The number of good quality peer-reviewed scientific studies on this topic is limited, so this study establishes important evidence to help guide the general public towards using UV protection when placing their hands in gel nail lamps. I urge regular gel manicure users to protect their skin in UV and LED nail lamps both in salon and at home." 

You can view MANISAFE's collection of UV Protective Manicure gloves here.

For any further comments on this topic please contact hello@manisafe.com