Tag Archives: Manicure

The Effects of UV Light On Your Hands

Woman getting a manicure

We’ve all heard about the harmful effects of UV rays and what it can do to our skin and eyes. But do you know that UV light is now becoming a regular part of the nail salon process? That’s right, ultraviolet radiation is what is used in the lamps that help speed dry nails, and they are actually necessary to set gel manicures. But exactly how harmful are these UV lamps to our skin and what can we do to prevent damaging effects?

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, these lights do emit UV radiation and it consists predominantly of UVA rays which has been linked to premature skin aging and skin cancer. However, the SCF goes on to say, even the most intense of these devices presents only a moderate UV risk. To put it in perspective, Jessica Wu, MD an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the USC School of Medicine offers this, based on a recent study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. “The researchers concluded that nail lamps would be safe to use for over 250 years of weekly manicures, and even then there would be a low risk of skin cancer.” Even so, it is best to play it safe, so here are some tips on how to keep your hands protected when under the fast dry lamps.

LED lamps and UV lamps-don’t let the names confuse you. They both emit UV radiation. However, LED lamps can be a bit safer. The amount of time spent under these lamps is directly related to how harmful their effects can be and LED lamps offer a faster dry exposing hands and nails to the light for mere seconds. LED lamps have also been known to treat signs of sun damage and generate new collagen in skin. Amy Sciarretto, fashion and beauty writer at Bustle.com recommends asking your salon what type of lamps they use before booking an appointment.

Other safety measures include making sure your hands are well moisturized and slathering hands in sunscreen 20 minutes prior to UV exposure. If the lamp your salon uses emits UVA rays, make sure your sunscreen has a UVA blocker like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and apply in a thick, even layer.

Of course you can always choose to air dry nails and limit your trips to the salon and/or the frequency of your gel manicures. (This may be safer all around as the removal process for gel manicures has been known to damage nails, making them thinner and brittle.) Another option it to wear dark opaque gloves cut off at the fingertips while having your nails treated under a UV lamp at the salon.

A final warning is that nail lamps used in salons are unregulated and may offer a higher dose of the UV light than what some studies may determine safe. That is why it is always a good idea to do your best to protect hands against worst case scenarios.

Best Bets: Acrylic, Gel or Shellac

Woman applying nail polish

Gel, shellac or acrylic? In this day and age, with so many nail trends emerging, and updated technologies on nail care, that question may be becoming as commonplace as ‘paper or plastic?’ But the answer may not be so easy to come by. To find the nail option that’s right for you, it may be a good idea to explore our choices.

A gel manicure is a type of nail treatment where a nail technician uses a gel to bind synthetic fingernails to natural ones. The gel can also be applied over natural nails like regular polish. Though relatively new, this form of manicure is becoming more and more popular. It is seen as a cure for chipping nail polish with super shiny results that last 2-3 weeks and usually costs around $35. However, there are also downsides to the gel manicure.

Gels can be bad for nail health. Manicures in general can weaken your nails. “The manicure process itself can lead to dehydration and thinning of the nail,” says Dr. Chris Adigun, a Chapel Hill based dermatologist. This can be particularly detrimental in the gel manicure process where you won’t be able to see your nail beds for 2-3 weeks at a time, to properly assess nail health.

The removal process in gel manicures can also be dangerous not to mention time consuming, difficult and costly. If you opt to remove the gels at home, this must be done with a 100% acetone remover which can be harsh on nails. A less abrasive choice is a gel remover which tends to be more expensive. It is then necessary to affix a remover soaked cotton to nails with a foil wrap and then a hand towel. This process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Wearers are also warned to not peel polish as this can take off layers of the nail and also cause water to seep in the nail, which can lead to an infection.

Acrylic nails, or artificial nails, are another choice. Donne Geer, co- founder of Hey Nice Nails explains, “Acrylics are applied using a liquid monomer and a powder polymer to create a hard protective layer over your natural nails. Acrylics only harden when exposed to air”. Polish is added later. Like gel polish, acrylics are also a long lasting option for fashion lovers. If done correctly, acrylics can last up to 4 weeks, outlasting a gel manicure. The cost can range from $35 to $50.

Like gel nail polish, the removal process is time consuming and can be damaging to nail health. You must use a similar process of soaking and wrapping your nails in an acetone remover which can also wear down your nail beds and leave them vulnerable to infection. Acrylic nails are also cited as being difficult to get used to and many say they look unnatural.

Shellac nail polish is a brand name for a new patent pending nail product created by CND. It is a hybrid meaning half nail polish, half gel. Shellac and gel are very similar but Lunchtime Beauty Q &A writer Christina Han sites some differences including the shellac polish being slightly less goopy than the gel. Also, CND sell their own acetone wraps which isolate the remover to the nail bed area saving your fingers slightly as acetone dries out nails and skin. Also, the removal is a quicker process but is only available at salons.

So which option will you choose? With so many different factors involved, the choice is not an easy one.   We can only hope that we made the decision making process just a bit easier.