Going to the nail salon seems like a harmless act; however, dermatologists are concerned that the newest nail trend, gel manicures, and the UV machines used during the process may contribute to skin cancer and hand aging.
The process of a gel manicure includes placing your hands in a machine that emits UVA for approximately 8 to 10 minutes. UVA rays are proven to contribute to skin aging and skin cancer. According to a segment that aired this morning on the Today Show, most customers receive a gel manicure twice a month on average. In the short-term gel manicures prevent nails from splitting and look great. In the long run, dermatologists say regular customers may be looking at aged hands and possible skin cancers down the road unless customers take skin protection measures.
Here are a few precautions you can take before heading to the salon to protect your hands and skin as much as possible:
1. Wear UV protective gloves: Wearing UPF 50+ fingerless gloves can protect your hands from over-exposure to UV light. Regular cotton gloves may still allow UV to reach the skin. If you opt to make your own fingerless gloves without UV protective material, use sunscreen underneath.
2. Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed fingertips: Broad-spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Have the nail artist apply sunscreen to your hands instead of lotion. Bring along a tube of sunscreen that contains either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Both ingredients provide physical UV protection that blocks UV instantly, unlike chemical sunscreens that are absorbed by the skin and can take up to 30 minutes to protect.
3. Routinely check skin for changes around and under your nail beds: Skin cancer is preventable in many cases, and when caught early, it is highly treatable. If you spot something unusual, seek advice from a dermatologist.
Watch “Nail safety: Do’s and don’ts of gel manicures”.