Your gel habit could have a super scary consequence: Frequent no-chip manis could increase your risk of skin cancer, according to researchers at Georgia Regents University’s Medical College of Georgia.
For the study, researchers measured the amount of UVA and UVB light emitted from 17 different nail drying lights. What they found: First, unsurprisingly, nail dryers vary widely. Some put out very little irradiation and others put out much more. But among those that emit the most UVA and UVB light, it could take as few as 24 sessions under the dryer to trigger skin-cancer causing damage. [Tweet this stat!] “UVB light penetrates the top layer of your skin and is most likely to make you burn, while UVA light goes much deeper and causes cellular damage that can lead to skin cancer,” says study author Lyndsay Shipp, M.D. The majority of the energy in sunlight, tanning beds, and nail-drying lights is the UVA kind.
This isn’t the first study to take a closer look at nail drying lamps. A 2009 study in the Archives of Dermatology associated frequent nail salon visits to cases of non-melanoma skin cancer on the hands of two women. Another study, published in 2012, calculated it would take as many as 40,000 nail-drying sessions to soak in enough skin-damaging rays, causing researchers to say it isn’t a concern, according to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
“In the past, studies used one device, measured the light, and created a mathematical model to predict a theoretical risk,” Shipp says. “Our study looked at how much UV light you’ll actually get from a wide variety of devices.”
So should you say sayonara to no-chip? “The risk is small, so I wouldn’t discourage someone from ever having it done, but if you’re going multiple times per month you may be putting yourself at risk compared to if you go every other month,” Shipp says. You could also smear on some sunscreen before you go under the light or consider UV-blocking gloves like these. You may not be the most fashionable woman in the nail salon, but you’ll certainly be the safest.
What do you think about this news? Would you give up a gel habit based on this report? Tell us in the comments or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.