UV Lamps for Nail Salons Aren't as Dangerous as Everybody Thinks: Here's Why

Recent studies on nail salon UV lamps are disproving the old with evidence that they’re safer than researchers thought.


UV nail salon lamps have often raised a red flag over UV-A rays, the rays responsible for most skin damage. However, research suggests that nail salon UV lamps are unlikely to cause your clients any damage. Despite the lamps’ former backlash, here are some of the myths that research to-date have debunked:


Myth #1: UV lamps for nail salons cause cancer

It’s true that prolonged exposure to UV-A rays can cause skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. However, the radiation from UV lamps isn’t nearly that dangerous. A study conducted by Georgia Regents University found that it could take up to 208 visits to inhibit any gene-altering damage.


The FDA reports that to date, they have not received any cases of UV lamps causing skin burns or cancer. Another study from the American Society of Photobiology cites that users “accumulate only a small fraction of permissible daily occupational exposure.” They concluded UV lamp use as low-risk exposure for otherwise healthy individuals.


According to a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University, “the risk of malignant cancer due to nail lamp exposure is extremely low.” However, she does recommend taking proper safety precautions.


Myth #2: UV lamps cause skin damage

With UV lamps only affecting a miniscule amount of skin for a miniscule amount of time, the radiation isn’t enough to cause damage. With easy protection, age spots and premature aging are preventable. Although UV radiation does accelerate melanin production which can cause age spots, the amount from lamps is not enough to cause them alone.


The main causes of age spots according to Mayo Clinic are prolonged sun exposure and sunlamps (i.e. tanning beds). Another cause is excessive melanin production, which UV light can inhibit. However, it takes extremely frequent visits for any damage to occur.


UV isn’t the sole factor to blame. Factors like age, genetics, skin type, and sun exposure can come into play – regardless of manicure habits.


Myth #3: Just a few sessions can have negative effects

As previously mentioned, it could take up to 208 UV sessions to cause any type of effect on genes. But still, that’s not guaranteed to damage your health.


A dermatology professor at Drexel University told The Atlantic that simply going outside on a blazing day is a greater risk than getting a gel manicure. This is because a greater body area is exposed for a longer time period, yet nobody worries about stepping outside or working outdoors.


Another discovery of the study by Georgia Recents was that UV lamps’ strengths varied greatly from brand to brand. Even with “numerous exposures” with varying bulbs, “the risk for [cancer] remains small,” the researchers said. The same results resonated in the American Society of Photobiology study. They found that even 30 minutes of daily exposure under the strongest lamps wasn’t harmful.


Precautions to take when using UV lamps

Although the majority of research agrees that UV lamps at nail salons are low risk, some are stronger than others. Other health factors can also increase the risk – which is why every gel enthusiast needs protection. Here are some precautions you can follow for your clients’ safety while using UV lamps:


  • Have broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 15+ available
  • Provide fingerless gloves
  • Consider UV blocking apparel – for yourself or client’s who are pregnant, nursing or light sensitive.
  • Offer the alternative: LED lamps (however read the label as LED lamps only work on select gel brand products


The Larmes de Medusa team is creating a culture of healthy, educated nail professionals. That’s why our entire product line of gel-last colors and foundation shades is vegan and non-toxic. But we believe that maintaining a safe salon isn’t just about products – it’s practice. To find out how to best go about controversial topics like cutting cuticles, wearing safety gloves, and using nail tips, follow our Nail Professionals Forum on our Medusa Nails Facebook Page. For more information on our practices and products, email info@medusanailartistry.com.

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