Sydney Sweeney Puts Sunscreen on Her Hands Before Gel Manicures — Is That Necessary?

A dermatologist explains the risks of gel manicures and how to protect your skin.

Sydney Sweeney wearing all black at Euphoria event against a green shape background
Photo: Getty Images

Sydney Sweeney is an open book when it comes to her beauty tips and advice. Recently, the Euphoria actress broke down her skin-care routine in a video interview with Allure. In the video, the actress shares that she has sensitive, combination skin that's prone cystic acne, and demonstrates how she takes care of it.

Of all the beauty tips Sweeney had to offer, the most intriguing one relates to her sunscreen habits. Despite her previous "hate" for sunscreen, the 24-year-old has become adamant about SPF protection. "I used to hate sunscreen. I just could not stand the feeling of it," she says in the clip. Now, she's all for applying it, and not just on her face. "I get my nails done quite a bit, and so they're exposed to a lot of UV lights, because I get gel manicures," she goes on to explain. (

It's a good thing that Sweeney is finally giving her skin the protection it deserves, especially in light of her gel manicure habit, which experts confirm does make skin more susceptible to ultraviolet (UV) damage. "Even though [dermatologists] don't have real data on [the impacts of gel manicures on skin], I still think it's a health concern, particularly because the exposure adds up over time if people regularly get gel manicures," Hadley King, M.D., a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, tells Shape. "UVA [ultraviolet A] is required to cure a gel manicure, and UVA exposure increases risk of skin cancer."

In addition to increased risk for cancer, the continuous UV exposure can also cause premature signs of skin aging, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). "Skin cancer risk and photo-aging from UVA is cumulative," says Dr. King. "I really wouldn't recommend regular UV exposure for anyone." (

If you don't have it in you to cancel your routine gel manicure appointments, you can at least follow Sweeney's lead and load up on sunscreen, especially before getting your nails done. Before getting a gel manicure, apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your hands to prevent skin cancer and premature skin aging, recommends the AAD. Doing so will help protect your skin from the UV radiation used to cure the gel polish.

Another tip is to bring your sunscreen to your appointment, says Dr. King. "During the manicure, instead of having the regular lotion hand massage part of the manicure, bring your own sunscreen and have your nail technician apply that to your hands instead." Other ways to protect your hands during a gel manicure are investing in and wearing protective clothing, i.e. gloves with the fingertips cut off, which help reduce exposure, says Dr. King.

Whether or not you regularly get gel manicures, applying sunscreen to your hands is a must for year-round protection. So, while more data is needed to determine the level of risk of UV skin damage from gel manicures, specifically, it's clear that using sunscreen on your hands is important. If you love gel manicures but are concerned about the potential impacts of the beauty practice, speak with a dermatologist for personalized advice.

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