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Ultraviolet (UV) gel nails are everywhere these days and when applied correctly, they create beautiful, glossy nails. The benefits behind UV gel nails is manyfold, including a longer-lasting manicure, chip-resistant layers, fade-resistant, and helps prevent nail breakage. This is important for maintaining nail health, but there can be negatives to the process in which they cure and maintain the gel.

Should I be worried about UV Gel Nails and their effects?

So what are the downsides of UV gel nails? Well, for one you have to use some industrial-strength acetone to remove the UV gel nail which may weaken your natural nail and dry out the surrounding skin. Another concern is with the process of curing UV gel nails. UV gel nails require ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Let’s break down UV radiation for a moment. The sun emits different types of UV radiation-UVA, UVB, and UVC rays. These rays are wavelengths of energy that can cause skin tanning, and trigger the development of skin cancers. The UVB rays are also a known cause of wrinkles!

So while these tiny UV gel nail light boxes are only used for 10-20 minutes at a time, the cumulative effect of bimonthly UV gel nails and focused UV radiation exposure can lead to premature aging of the hands with the appearance of fine lines, brown spots, age spots, and possibly increase your risk of developing skin cancers.

What is the solution?

These risks and concerns do not mean you have to give up your UV gel nails. In fact, you can keep getting them as routinely scheduled. What is a simple solution? Try wearing opaque thick gloves with the tips cut off to protect the skin on the back of your hands. Additionally, apply sunscreen to your hands prior to going to the nail salon. Applying sunscreen right before you go under the UV light isn’t effective. Chemical sunscreens take 30 minutes to start working. Mineral-based sunblocks such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide- think about the old school movies with the lifeguard with the white stripe down the nose. These mineral-based sunblocks are physical blockers of UV radiation, meaning they physically block out the UV gel nail light box UV radiation from the affecting the skin immediately. It’s almost like you’re standing under a covered awning and are protected from the sun. This can help you maintain your skin’s health and keep them looking young and beautiful longer.

UV gel nails are a functional answer to dealing with thin, easily broken nails and covering unsightly nails undergoing treatment for fungal infections. So remember, beauty doesn’t have to come at the cost of increasing your risk of developing skin cancer or causing premature aging of the hands.

For more information about nail health or to schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Nikki D. Hill, MD Board-certified dermatologist in Atlanta, Georgia who specializes in nail conditions, please call our office or schedule your hour consultation online.