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Woman in beauty salon drying her nail polish in UV nail dryer

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Ladies, you might want to make sure you’re sitting down for this one. Especially, if love you to head to the nail shop to get your weekly gel manicures.

A new study published in Nature Communications has revealed that you might be putting your health at risk by using Ultraviolet (UV) nail polish dryers. Researchers say that prolonged use of UV nail polish dryers, typically used for gel manicures, can kill healthy cells in the body and may lead to cancer-causing cell mutation.

In the eyebrow-raising study, which was published Jan. 17, scientists analyzed cells in two different conditions of UV exposure. Cells with acute exposure were placed under UV dryers for two 20-minute sessions with an hour break in between. Cells with prolonged exposure had one 20-minute session under the UV dryer for three consecutive days.


Here’s the bad part.

At the end of the experiment, researchers found that one 20-minute session of exposure under the UV dryers resulted in 20 to 30 percent cell death. The cells that were left under the dryers for three consecutive 20-minute sessions, resulted in 65 to 70 percent cell death. 

According to the study, cells that were able to withstand the exposure experienced a mutation typically seen in individuals with skin cancer.

Ludmil Alexandrov, a bioengineering professor at UC San Diego and an author behind the study, shared more about the shocking results.

“We saw multiple things: first, we saw that DNA gets damaged,” Alexandrov said in a statement. “We also saw that some of the DNA damage does not get repaired over time, and it does lead to mutations after every exposure with a UV-nail polish dryer. Lastly, we saw that exposure may cause mitochondrial dysfunction, which may also result in additional mutations. We looked at patients with skin cancers, and we see the exact same patterns of mutations in these patients that were seen in the irradiated cells.”


Close-Up Of Woman Fingers With Nail Art Manicure with neon colour

Source: mikroman6 / Getty


There may be a silver lining

Researchers say that while the results show that prolonged exposure to UV dryers may cause damage to healthy human cells, a long-term epidemiological study would need to be accessed before health experts consider placing a ban on these machines due to skin cancer risks. But the results are pretty clear. Chronic use of UV dryers can cause cell damage, and it may be worth thinking about before you head to that next nail appointment.

Maria Zhivagui, another author behind the study, said she used to be a fan of gel manicures. But now, she’s ditching them altogether because of the health risks associated.

“When I was doing my Ph.D., I started hearing about gel manicures, which last longer than normal polish. I was interested in trying out gel nail polish, particularly in the setting of working in an experimental lab where I frequently put gloves on and off, to maintain a presentable appearance,” said Zhivagui. “So I started using gel manicures periodically for several years. Once I saw the effect of radiation emitted by the gel polish drying device on cell death and that it actually mutates cells even after just one 20-minute session, I was surprised. I found this to be very alarming, and decided to stop using it.”

Dang! It just feels like we can’t have anything nice these days. But have no fear. If this new study has you thinking twice about heading to the nail salon, thankfully, there are great healthy alternatives to getting that fresh mani look without the health risks, and potentially, for half the price.

Press-on nails are a great alternative. Hello Beautiful highly recommends The Nailest, an online nail bar that offers a great selection of luxury press-on nails. Press-on nails from the brand are made with “top-quality gel” and are super easy to apply, according to the site.

Looking for a few more options?

Hit the link below to check out another great list of press-on nail brands highly recommended by MADAMENOIRE.


RELATED CONTENT: Pamper, Press-On, Polish: We Loved Testing These Nail Brands For The Melanin Awards


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