Myth vs. Fact: Gel Manicures and Skin Cancer Risk
Allison Bush | March 6, 2013
- 1 Myth
- 0 Fact
You are correct! You are incorrect!
Myth or Fact: The chemical methyl acrylate found in some gel nail polishes is a cancer-causing agent.
Myth. While this chemical my cause an allergic skin reaction called contact dermatitis, it's not known to cause cancer. The allergic reaction related to this chemical usually results in an itchy, bumpy, and uncomfortable rash that may last a week or two. If you find yourself allergic to the nail polish, remove it from your nails and apply a cortisone cream to the affected area.
Myth or Fact: All gel nail polishes contain the cancer-causing chemical butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA).
Myth. It's not clear exactly how much exposure you would need for cancer to develop, but it's important to be aware that this chemical is a carcinogen. Not all polishes contain this chemical, so be sure to check the ingredient list.
Myth vs. Fact: The UV light from lamps used to set the gel manicures cause similar skin damage to sunbeds.
Fact. Gel nail polish is set with ultraviolet light. However, ultraviolet light is essentially sunlight and sunlight causes skin cancer. If you are exposed to ultraviolet light for four to eight minutes every two weeks when you have a gel manicure, that can add up to significant exposure. To avoid potential skin cancers on your fingers or hands, [Susan Taylor, M.D.,](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-susan-taylor/gel-nail-polish_b_1333236.html) suggests that you apply an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen directly to your hands and fingers after you wash your hands midway through the manicure. You can also try to find a manicurist that uses LED light to set the gel polish, which doesn't cause cancer.
Myth vs. Fact: Gel manicures can cause lasting damage other than skin cancer to your nails and hands.
Fact. Unfortunately, to remove gel polish, your nails are soaked in or wrapped in acetone. Acetone is a very drying chemical and will cause your nail to become brittle and peel after repeated use. The skin on your hands may also be affected by the repeated exposure to the UV lamps, causing them to have dark spots, wrinkles, and potentially skin cancer.
Myth vs. Fact: Gel manicures may have the potential to hide lurking nail infections.
Fact. Long-lasting manicures, like gel manicures, could hide nail problems such as an infection or tumor, which could delay diagnosis.
Myth or Fact: Regular manicures pose the same risk as gel manicures.
Myth. LED lamps are used in drying regular nail polish and don’t pose a health risk because they don’t emit ultraviolet radiation.