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Do at-home gel manicures raise cancer risk?

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Evan White
Evan Whitehttps://dellacooks.com
Empowering you with knowledge to transform lives. 'In sharing wisdom, we unearth new possibilities'. Dive in to discover, grow, and become your best self.

Gel manicures gradually rose to prominence as the latest nail-care craze. Having a polish that doesn’t chip or fade and hides flaws like ridges, indentations, or pitting is what led to the intense fascination with gel polish.

Plus, gel polish actually helps strengthen the nails and dries swiftly — which cuts the time you sit in a nail salon down by at least half the time. Gel manicures can cost anywhere from $15 to $100 depending on your manicurist, salon and location, nail design, and the extent of your manicure.

However, gel manicures and pedicures require you to dry your nails under an ultraviolet (UV) lamp. UV light is a harmful ray released by the sun and tanning beds that can damage skin and lead to skin cancer. 

This new fad has raised concerns related to the risk of getting cancer from UV lamps and how expensive life insurance with skin cancer can be. The concerns led to professionals finding remedies to this concerning risk within their salons.

However, many people have ordered a UV lamp to do their manicures and pedicures at home amidst the pandemic. 

Though this DIY beauty remedy can be a cost-effective solution, amateur nail stylists may not know the remedies that professions have come up with to adequately protect the skin from the potential harm that UV lamps can cause from extended use.

What is UV radiation?

Electromagnetic energy manifests itself in the form of UV rays. Although sunlight is the most common, lasers, black lights, and tanning beds are all examples of artificial light sources. 

UV radiation is mainly generated through exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The sun’s core undergoes a nuclear reaction, and the resulting radiation travels to Earth through solar rays. 

UV rays are divided into three groups based on their wavelength: UVA (the longest), UVB (the medium-longest), and UVC (shortest wavelength).  

Do gel manicures cause skin cancer?

The use of gel polish has not been linked to an increased risk of cancer. However, some people are concerned about the lamps and lightboxes that are used to seal the polish during gel manicures. 

Many of them generate significant quantities of UV radiation, which is known to have a role in cancer formation. Depending on how often you get manicures, the risk increases. 

JAMA Dermatology found that a gel manicure every two weeks does not significantly raise the risk of skin cancer, according to 2014 research. However, if you get gel manicures more frequently than this, you can potentially be at risk of developing skin cancer. 

Growing Concerns About Gel Manicures

There is worry about the nail industry’s absence of regulation and standards regarding gel manicures and pedicures. Neither the procedure of applying gel manicure nor the lights are regulated. 

There is no regulation for how long the hands should be under the lamp or how bright the light should be. Though each polish container and light has its own suggested curing time, this time usually doesn’t account for exposure risk.

Each polish and light has a different suggested cure time, so some people may be at greater risk of skin cancer depending on the brand and settings they use. This is where the concern about the absence of supervision originates. 

There is no way to tell if a salon is following the instructions or if those instructions are scientifically backed to prevent risk. 

More prolonged exposure raises the risk of skin cancer, but it also results in a harder gel finish. As a result, even if clients are aware that their hands have been exposed to the light for a length of time that could expose them to cancer, they are unlikely to complain because their manicure will last even longer.

As previously stated, the major concern is the UV radiation from the curing light, not the polish itself. It is the same type of light that the sun and tanning beds emit and can harm your skin and cause cancer.  

Similar to how consuming too much coffee or alcohol can be bad for you, getting too many gel manicures and pedicures can be too.

Steps to Take to Protect Your Skin

Protecting oneself from the sun’s rays is critical for maintaining good skin, especially if you get gel manicures regularly or plan on being outside for an extended period of time. 

You can prevent sunburn, skin cancer, premature aging, and DNA damage by following the simple guidelines below.

Wear Sunscreen When Getting a Manicure

Make sure to use a broad-spectrum SPF while applying sunscreen. This means that the sunscreen is effective at blocking both UVA and UVB radiation. 

While a higher sun protection factor (SPF) will give additional protection, keep in mind that no sunscreen is 100% efficient in blocking out UV rays. So be sure to always use a high-SPF sunscreen, like one with a rating of 30 or more. 

After your manicure, reapply sunscreen at least every two hours and more often if you’re sweating, exercising, or swimming. There are only water-resistant sunscreens and no waterproof sunscreens, so keep that in mind.

It’s best to choose a physical or mineral-based sunscreen over a chemical-based one when searching for sunscreen since chemical sunscreens can be absorbed into the blood. 

Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the two ingredients the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally recognizes as safe and effective sunscreen components. Physical sunscreens include these active substances as a protective layer over the skin.

Wear UV Shield Manicure Gloves

Wearing sun-protective gloves helps protect your skin from the UV lamp’s harmful rays. Since sunscreen can rub off, lose its efficacy due to sweat, or simply wear off after a predetermined length of time, sun protection gloves can be more effective than sunscreen when getting a manicure.

The gloves shield most of your hands from the UV radiation emitted by UV or LED manicure lights. Since the gloves are fingerless, they reveal enough of your fingers to let you do your nails while protecting the rest of the hand.

Use an LED Light Instead of a UV Light

LED lighting emits less UV radiation than UV-curing light. An LED light also accelerates the hardening of the polish — which reduces the amount of time you are exposed.

LED nail lights and UV nail lamps both emit UV wavelengths and function in the same way. On the other hand, UV lamps emit a wider range of wavelengths, whereas LED lights generate a smaller, more focused range. 

In comparison to UV lights, LED bulbs cure gel polish more quickly, but an LED light will not cure all gel finishes.

Term Life Insurance and Melanoma: What You Need to Know

Term life insurance may be more expensive for those with melanoma, a type of skin cancer, due to treatment costs and effectiveness. 

However, it’s possible to buy life insurance with melanoma for an affordable rate each month. To do this, life insurance companies will check that candidates with a history of melanoma have gotten the full treatment and completed frequent follow-up appointments as prescribed by their doctors. Make sure you know your rights as a cancer patient.

If you apply for term life insurance with melanoma, the remarkable thing is that you can be accepted. The unfortunate thing is that acceptance and rating classes may be entirely unexpected and subjective. Taking steps to protect against UV radiation can prevent skin cancer and help you keep lower life insurance rates.

Imani Francies

Imani Francies writes and researches for the life insurance comparison site, QuickQuote.com. Imani has a passion for helping people learn about the causes and risks of illnesses and how they affect insurance rates.

Last Updated on 10 months by Evan White

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