February 17, 2016Trends in Technology

Is Your Gel Manicure Safe?

I love attending and presenting at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Beauty Breakthroughs Events in NYC because it is like a think tank for cutting edge information in my field. One of the hot topics presented at this year’s event by my esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. Chris Adigun, was the safety of gel manicures, especially in view of the LED and UV lamps used to cure gel polish.

I wanted to share some of the latest information available on this topic because it is something so many of us do without giving it a second thought!

We know why we all love gel polish. It lasts up to three weeks without a single chip and is more glossy and shiny than any other type of polish I’ve seen. But, there is always the question of safety when you place your hands under the lamp to cure the polish. Your salon either uses a UV lamp (if you wait for two minutes for the polish to cure, this is a UV lamp) or an LED lamp (if you wait for between 5 and 45 seconds for your polish to cure, this is an LED lamp) as a necessary step in curing gel polish. BOTH UV and LED lamps emit UV radiation. Many people think the LED lamp is safer, but in reality, it is just a shorter, intense periods of exposure to UVA rays, which are linked to skin aging and skin cancer.

But don’t despair. There are some safety precautions that you can take before placing your hands under the lamps. Either apply UVA/UVB sunscreen to your hands 20 minutes prior to placing them under the lamps or use anti-UV gloves, which are available online (http://www.improvesummer.com/best-uv-proctection-hands-fingerless-sun-protection-gloves/) or possibly at your salon.

Another option which doesn’t require a UV or LED Lamp is Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, which is a part lacquer and part gel polish. The Color Coat and Top Coat formulas both contain an oligomer (a molecule), and the Top Coat also contains a photoinitiator (a chemical compound). The photoinitiator activates a bond between the Color and Top Coat, thus curing the formula in natural light without the need of an LED/UV lamp. I’ve tried it and it looks like a gel manicure from the salon and lasted about the same amount of time. Always good to have options!

Enjoy your beautiful manicures and, most importantly, your healthy skin!