Growing in popularity over the past few years, gel manicures require a curing lamp, usually a portable UV or LED dryer, in order to “set” the polish and allow it to remain unchipped for up to two weeks.
Although the exposure to UV light while “curing” a gel manicure is minimal, protecting the skin with a broad spectrum sunscreen product is still highly recommended.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, applying a moisturizing SPF 15 or higher before drying your nails in the UV dryer is the safest course of action. Although the skin cancer risks are rather low, the risk of developing brown spots, wrinkles and thinning skin remain.
Some salons employ the use of LED, or light emitting diode, lights instead. LED lights are completely safe and have been used for years to minimize P. acnes bacteria, heal wounded skin and even increase the deposition of collagen. Simply ask your favorite nail salon which type they use. According to an article by HLNtv.com, LED dryers are becoming more and more popular. Not only are they a safer option, but they also decrease dry time, making the curing process that much faster.
There are several ways to protect the skin of the hands from over-exposure to UV radiation. Consider bringing your own broad spectrum sunscreen product to the nail salon and apply an even coat to the hands before putting them in the dryer. Some experts suggest wearing dark colored gloves and snipping off the nail area to protect the hands. Others recommend avoiding gel manicures altogether and sticking with regular nail polish.