Manicures increasing your risk of skin cancer?

Let’s face it: we all love a good mani-pedi. It just takes so long for the polish to dry. Thank god for those handy nail dryers, right? Wrong. The devices that help dry your polish and cure gel manicures emit damaging UVA light.

A new study released by JAMA Dermatology looked into the dangers we expose ourselves to at nail salons by analyzing 17 different light sources in 16 different salons, as well as multiple hand positions. The verdict? Results vary from device to device, but the point is this: if you make multiple visits to the nail salon, the UVA exposure definitely adds up – and it can take just 8 visits using higher-wattage lamps to cause skin damage.

So what can you do to help protect your skin? The solutions are simpler than you think:

1. Apply sunscreen to the back of your hand and the top of your feet before you slip them under the UVA light. Make sure you always have a travel-sized sunscreen bottle handy (it should be a handbag staple!)

2. Avoid gel manicures. Yes, they last longer, chip less and make your life easier – but the mandatory UVA light needed to dry them could pose a real problem for you down the road. If you really don’t need to get one, trade it for the lesser danger.

3. Let your nails dry naturally. You’re taking time out for yourself. Enjoy it without wanting to rush off after! Schedule your appointment during less hectic times of the week, and bring along a book, an iPad or just relax, as you let the nails dry in their own time without any artificial assistance

Keep these tips in mind the next time you go under a UVA light, and remember to always put your skin’s health first!

Sources: Shipp LR, Warner CA, Rueggeberg FA, Davis LS. Further investigation into the risk of skin cancer associated with the use of UV nail lamps. JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150:775-776. MacFarlane DF, Alonso CA. Occurrence of nonmelanoma skin cancers on the hands after UV nail light exposure. Arch Dermatol. 2009;145:447-449. Abstract

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