The Downside of Gel Manicures

The Downside of Gel Manicures

In this technological age, how can it be that there are people capable of producing sneakers that order pizza, but no one can come up with a safe, long -lasting manicure? Our cars are able to drive themselves, yet women continue to bemoan the lack of dependable nail polish. It’s not that the nail polish industry is wanting in innovation, far from it. With “no chip, quick dry” formulas popping up with increasing frequency, there’s no scarcity of options on offer. Yet, can we be sure that what keeps our flawless nails do not harm our health?

UV Exposure
According to a University of Texas study, women exposed to nail salon UV lamps are at higher risk for cancer. The study observed two women, one of which was exposed to nail salon lamps twice a month in a 15 year period, the other of which had been exposed eight times in one year, both of whom had skin cancer on the backs of their hands as a result. However, Doug Schoon, a chemist and consultant to the nail care industry rebuts, “The strongest UV lamps give the cilents the equivalent of 2.7 minutes per day of time in the sun. Driving around and buying your latte, you’ll get more exposure.”

The Process
However, no matter where you stand on the safety of UV lamps, there are safety precautions you may want to take. Firstly, beware of cheap acrylic nails. While a $35 price tag may seem tempting, compared to the more common $50, the cheaper price may be a sign that the product uses bonding liquid methyl methacrylate (MMA), which is such a powerful adhesive, experts warn that a technician will have to aggressively file your nail to get it off. Ouch!

Woman with red nails

Even if you go for the more expensive sets, removal of gels require at least 10-15 minute soaks in acetone, and that can lead to thin brittle nails that are prone to peeling and breakage. Dr. Howard Sobel of Lenox Hill Hospital says, “Over time, this can be very damaging to the nails beds. Additionally, repeated use of acetone to remove the gel is very drying and can also irritate the skin surrounding the nails.”

In addition, while the occasional gel treatments should not pose a serious risk to the nails, they may stunt overall nail growth, as the progress of growth may be slowed during the time the gel formula is on the nail. Sobel says, “Because gel manicures are a newer technology, there are no proven long term effects. However, repeated exposure to UV lights will always raise concerns when it comes to aging and skin cancer.”

As with most things in life, when it comes to making decisions about gel manicures, moderation is the key. Chris Agidun, dermatologist at NYU, says, “in general, any manicure left on for an extended period of time is not a good idea because you are not seeing what is going on underneath the nail polish. If you get (gel manicures) regularly, you need to be aware of the possible consequences and see a board-certified dermatologist if a persistent nail problem develops.”

What’s your take on the gel manicure? Is it worth the risk? Let us know!

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