A new study finds ultraviolet lamps used in nail salons to harden and dry polish do not pose a risk for skin cancer.
Researchers tested lights from 16 different salons with a variety of bulb types and wattage.
They found higher wattage lights did emit more UVA radiation, but that it would take many exposures to pose any danger and the risk of cancer is still small.
A 2009 case report published in JAMA Dermatology detailed two women who had developed skin cancer on the back of their fingers after having no family history of the condition. One woman was a 55-year-old with a 15-year history of going to the nail salon twice a month. The other woman, a 48-year-old, said she went eight times in one year several years before her diagnosis. Both women reported having been exposed to UV nail lights, though it’s unclear whether the lights caused the condition
Still, cases like these are extremely rare. It’s unlikely that average women who occasionally visit the nail salon are at significant risk, according to the study.
“Considering the low UV-A energy exposure in an average manicure visit, multiple visits would be required to reach the threshold for potential DNA damage,” the authors wrote.
Depending on the intensity of the UV light nail dryer, the researchers found that women would have to use the nail dryer for an average of 11 visits over about 2 years before they reach the threshold of UV exposure for skin damage. The study, however, only looked at a small number of nail dryers and would need to be replicated using a larger sample of dryers to confirm its findings.
To lower the risk of skin aging spots and wrinkles, the researchers suggest using sunscreen before getting a manicure.