Skin Cancer in the Nail Salon

At this point in your skincare knowledge, I would hope everyone is familiar with UVA/UVB rays and the effects these have on the skin. If you need a refresher, let me break it down for you:

Unprotected exposure to both rays damages the DNA and can lead to skin cancer. The obvious solution is to wear your SPF every day (and we hope you are!) 

Don’t Forget About Your Hands

Something we often forget about is our taking care of our hands. Our hands are exposed constantly, especially if you drive frequently like I do. I also like my monthly manicures, but something I never considered until recently was the UV lamps that are used to dry your nails. Some salons say their lamps are UV, and some say LED, but the fact is that they are both emitting UV radiation. Most lamps emit UVA rays (those premature aging rays), but there is some good news! The Skin Cancer Foundation says that even the most intense nail drying lamps only present a moderate risk. It’s less exposure than a tanning bed!

How to Reduce the Risk

Even though the risk is small, for some people it’s not worth it! There are some things you can do to reduce the risk of skin cancer on your hands if you are a frequent manicure gal like myself. You can purchase fingerless gloves that are made of material that protects your skin from UV exposure. These can actually be found on amazon! If that’s a little extra for you, you can apply a broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen to your hands at least 20 minutes prior to your manicure. Wouldn’t it be nice if SPF was a part of the hand and arm massage before the drying lamps!? There is a small catch with this preventative measure: it’s obviously not going to protect you 100%. Believe it or not, you can get skin cancer under your nails (subungual). This is a very rare but very aggressive form of skin cancer. 

Unfortunately if you are doing a gel manicure, there isn’t a way to get around the UV lamp. But, if you like a regular ol’ polish manicure, skip the light and let your nails air dry or try the drip powder manicure next time, no light needed! 

Back to the Blog