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Is gel nail polish safe for nails and cuticles?

By October 28, 2014 - 11:30am
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Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger


Hi Kelly and thanks for bringing your question to EmpowHER.

Gel nail polishes may not only be damaging to your nails, but may also carry other risks, according to the University of California at Berkeley which provides the following information. 

Gel nail polishes look like regular nail polish but are quick drying and last for weeks. To give you an idea of how durable they are, they contain a polymer similar to the material used in dental bonding. After a coat is applied, you place your hands under an ultraviolet (UV) lamp for a short time to “cure” (that is, harden) the polymer. The process is repeated several times.

Among the potential problems is the UV light itself, which can increase the risk of detachment of the nail from the nail bed in people taking oral photosensitizing medications such as tetracycline antibiotics. Because the UV light can cause retinal damage, you should be careful not to look at it directly.

There is also some concern that the lamps may increase the risk of skin cancer. In a report in the Archives of Dermatology in 2009, UV nail lamps were considered a risk factor in two women who had skin cancer on the tops of their hands. Additionally, according to UC Berkeley, one small study found nail thinning after gel manicures. Some people may also show allergic skin reactions during application.

There are additional concerns about the removal of gel nail polish, which involves soaking the nails in acetone, which is very drying and scraping off remaining polish, which can harm the nails.

In general, gel manicures may work well for special occasions but if they are done repeatedly they may result in damage to the nails as well as health concerns.

Hope that helps. Are you planning to have a gel manicure or pedicure? What are your personal thoughts on the risks involved?



October 28, 2014 - 6:02pm
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