UV lights in high street nail bars could pose a risk of skin cancer, scientists fear.
According to researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh, the lights used to harden some types of nail polish gel, called shellac, can damage the skin in a similar way to sunbeds.
A series of laboratory studies have shown that a large number of skin cells are repeatedly exposed to the light emitted by these lamps.
Surviving cells show signs of damage, including to their DNA, which increases the risk of skin cancer.
UV lights in high street nail bars could raise skin cancer risk, scientists fear
Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the study’s authors warned: ‘Our experimental results… strongly suggest that exposure to UV nail dryers may cause hand cancer.
He added: ‘UV nail polish dryers, like tanning beds, increase the risk of early skin cancer.’ But they cautioned that the study ‘does not provide direct evidence of an increased risk of cancer in humans.’
They called for a long-term analysis of hand skin cancer rates compared to those who regularly use nail polish removers. This, they say, ‘will take at least ten years to complete.’
There is increasing stress on nail plates. You can now buy ‘Anti UV Gloves’ online that leave only fingernails exposed.
In a series of laboratory studies, they found a higher proportion of skin cells that were repeatedly exposed to light in these lights.
US influencer Kourtney Kardashian – Kim’s older sister – says she doesn’t use UV dryers because they ‘age the skin with brown spots and wrinkles’.
Last night the nail bar industry poured scorn on the new findings.
Doug Schon, a chemist by training with the American Nail Manufacturers Council, called the study a ‘biased and unfair attack’.
The researchers used very high-energy UV light and exposed skin cells for a long time – 20 minutes a day for three consecutive days.
During a nail bar session, customers hold their hands under the light for three minutes, he added. Most of them go twice a month.
A dangerous online trend has emerged promoting the use of sunbeds after years of commercial bans linked to skin cancer.
If you use three one-minute exposures, I guarantee the results will be very different. It seems their agenda is to make all UV nail lights look dangerous,’ he said.
‘Millions of these lights have been used regularly for over 20 years, so they have a long history of safe use.
‘Most scientific evidence shows that UV nail lights are safe when used properly.’
One reason nail bar UV lights can pose the same risk as sunbeds is because the light they emit is different.
Sunbeds emit a broad spectrum of ultraviolet radiation, consisting of both long-wavelength UVA (315 to 400 nanometers) and shorter-wavelength UVB (280 to 315 nanometers). Nail bar lights tend to produce only UVA.
UVB is more ‘powerful’ and the main cause of sunburn, but it does not penetrate below the surface of the skin. In contrast, UVA has less energy but penetrates deeper.
Excessive exposure to both can cause skin damage and skin cancer.
Previous studies have found no link between frequent nail bar use and skin cancer.
However, none of these have been the kind of robust long-term studies — following individuals over many years — like recent research by scientists.
Its lead author Ludmil Alex-Androv believes there is cause for concern, saying that before their work there was ‘zero molecular understanding of what these devices are doing in human cells’.