Love gel manicures? Remember to apply sunscreen


So what has sunscreen got to do with gel manicures? Well, apparently a lot, going by the recent news release issued by the Skin Cancer Foundation. Because of the fear that ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting devices are carcinogenic to humans, the Foundation is recommending those who go for gel manicures to apply sunscreen to their hands prior to the treatment as UV-emitting nail lamps are oft-used to seal the gel polish to the nail.

Gel nail manicures are popular
Actually, the warning on UV nail lamps is not new but I suppose it is surfacing of late again because of the popularity of gel nail manicures. For those who don’t already know, gel nail polish are the rage now because it can last a few weeks longer than traditional acrylic nail polish and UV lamps are used to seal the polish to the nail, a process known as “curing.”

UV exposure with UV nail lamps are low
If you love gel manicures and do use a UV nail lamp, I don’t think you have to worry too much because the same statement issued by the Foundation also mentioned that studies have shown that the skin cancer risk associated with UV nail lamps for gel manicures is very low. In addition, not all nail lamps emit UV light. Some use LED light, which is not dangerous. While there is some risk, the UVA and UVB output from using such lamps are very low, something like spending an extra 10 to 20 minutes under the sun per week (source).

Applying sunscreen to your hands is good prevention
But to be sure, it might be good to apply sunscreen on your hands prior to having your gel manicure done although I think you can only do it as part of the treatment process. Which means that the nail technician has to apply the sunscreen for you. Anyway, there is usually always some kind of cream applied to your hand so why not a sunscreen instead? Afterall, prevention is definitely better than cure and I also don’t think you want your hands to age too prematurely?

Acetone is drying to both skin and nails
Personally, I haven’t had gel manicure done before. I’m a bit paranoid about the whole process because I understand that when the polish is ready to come off, the nails are to be soaked in acetone for at least 10 or 15 minutes to remove the hard-to-remove sealed polish. I find that process rather “harsh” and troublesome. Acetone, by the way, is known to dry out both the skin and the nails so if you often go for gel manicures, you might want to consider alternating it with normal acrylic nail polish instead.

Bring your own sunscreen
Anyway, if you love gel manicures, do check with your nail salon if they are using UV nail lamps. If so, you might want to bring along your sunscreen lotion and request that it be used on your hands prior to the drying process. I don’t know about the salons in other countries but I’m pretty sure most of those here do not care for this step.


  1. Mihel says:

    Do you think hands can become darker when exposed to UV lamps?
    I only had my nails done a couple of times and haven’t noticed any darkening so far. But maybe after prolonged exposure they would…

    Still, better safe than sorry, I’ll bring my sunscreen next time; I like my hands and finger to stay fair personally.

  2. Sesame says:

    I imagine darkening will not happen so obviously but over time, age spots might develop.

  3. Mandy says:

    Gel manicures are indeed lovely for their lasting power but I really hate the removal process. Not only are my fingers cold from the soaking under the aircon in the shops, my nails looks stripped of a layer and dead after that. Thus I only do it for special events.

  4. Sesame says:

    Yeah, that’s what I understand…not too good for the skin so it’s good you decide to do it only for special events.

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