Gel Manicures: How Safe Are They?

shutterstock_260352359The durability of a gel manicure is stuff of a manicure-junkie’s dream. Although more costly than a regular manicure, a gel manicure is relished for its high-gloss polish that can last for weeks.

After application, you need to “cure” the gel polish by putting your nails—and hands—under an ultraviolet (UV) lamp. We frequently hear about the skin cancer dangers of UV radiation from sunlamps and tanning beds, but what about UV exposure from nail lamps?

A 2014 study by the Journal of American Medical Association/Dermatology concluded that because of low UV levels, the risk of skin cancer from nail dryers is small. However, there are some caveats. No regulation exists for nail lamp manufacturing, so your exposure to UV light can vary from device to device and even on how the lamp is set up.

Because of those inconsistencies that can affect the amount of UV exposure, consumers should take precautions to limit skin cancer risk as well as prevent premature aging of their skin. Limit your number of gel manicures, and wear sunscreen on your hands and UV-protective gloves while under a nail lamp.

Also, make sure that you’re going to a reputable and licensed salon. Visit the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology’s website,, for more information and to verify a license.

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