Gel Nail Polish Lamps Can Harm DNA And Increase Risk For Skin Cancer, According To New UC San Diego Study

The average woman uses a variety of skincare and makeup products that are endocrine disruptors, but it turns out that even the gel nail polish lamp you use at the salon to dry your nails could be linked to DNA damage and cancer-causing cell mutations, according to a new study from UC San Diego.

By Gina Florio2 min read
nail polish gel dryer

One of the most common things women do when they want to have a relaxing weekend is go to get their nails done. While we used to have to wait around for the normal nail polish to dry, the rise of gel nail polish allowed us to use a small drying lamp for a few minutes and then be on our merry way—without having to worry about our nails chipping when we take out our car keys. However, as popular as gel nail polish may be, a new study from UC San Diego suggests that those lamps could be linked to a number of health issues.

Gel Nail Polish Lamps Can Harm DNA and Increase Risk for Skin Cancer, According to New UC San Diego Study

A study from UC San Diego was published on January 17 in Nature Communications, claiming that the ultraviolet A light used in UV-nail polish dryers are linked to increased likelihood of skin cancer and DNA damage. It states that UV light is a "a type of electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength ranging between 10 nm and 400 nm" and it makes up about 90% of the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the surface of the Earth. "It can penetrate the skin more deeply, and it causes little direct DNA damage as UVA is poorly absorbed by DNA," the paper reads.

It was found that skin squamous-cell carcinoma develops in mice after long-term exposure to broadband UVA and previous studies have found that UVA irradiation leads to DNA damage. Just like we know of the damages that can come from using tanning beds for a long time, research suggests that these UV nail lamps emit ultraviolet wavelengths that result in mutations in human cells that could lead to skin cancer.

However, the researchers can't conclude with certainty that using the UV nail lamps will cause skin cancer; rather, using them longterm can increase cancer risks. It's important to note that the study was done on human cells, not human beings, which matters because humans have many layers of skin that could provide protection against the UV rays.

According to the research, just one 20-minute session can result in 20-30% cell death. But experts add that this is only concerning if you use UV nail dryers very often, such as every single day. However, if you use them a couple times a year, they shouldn't cause too much of a problem. Some dermatologists have suggested that women wear a sunscreen on their hands before they go to the salon, which will help protect against the UV lights.