Can UV Gel Manicures Cause Premature Aging Hands?

When you visit the nail salon, there are many treatments you can choose from. If you opt for a manicure, you can choose either gel or regular nail polish. But what's the difference? Beverly Hills MD points out that applying regular or traditional nail polish is a less laborious process and can be done fairly quickly, only requiring an application of the nail polish itself without extra equipment. However, it doesn't last very long, requiring touch-ups or frequent trips back to the salon for reapplication, and it takes some time to dry.

Gel nail polish, on the other hand, requires the use of UV light to set the polish (a process also known as curing), which must take place between each layer applied, as per Jon Tomas Salon & Spa. Gel polish is often preferred because it lasts much longer than regular polish and protects the nail from breaking. That being said, when you do want to change the color, the process to remove the polish requires extensive soaking rather than simply wiping with a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover. The polish is also known to potentially damage the nail beds, especially if it is not removed correctly. One more issue that comes up with gel polish has to do with the UV light that is used to set the polish in place.

Consider wearing sunscreen when getting a gel manicure

The American Academy of Dermatology Association confirms that gel manicures can, in fact, lead to premature aging of the hands. This is due to the ultraviolet radiation that is used to cure the polish on the nails.

A 2014 article published in the journal Molecules examed how to prevent damage to the skin caused by ultraviolet radiation and found that this type of light is responsible for 80% of aging as it relates to the skin's appearance, including wrinkling, changing pigmentation, and contributing to a dry appearance. The light damages the DNA within the skin cells, hindering their function. This also puts an individual at risk of developing skin cancer.

While you do put your hands at risk of premature aging with frequent gel nail polish manicures, you don't have to avoid them altogether to reduce this negative side effect. The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends applying sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 to protect the skin on your hands from harmful rays. The experts at Socah Center add that this solution is most effective when you apply the sunscreen at least half an hour before your appointment to ensure it has time to work. Alternatively, you can also purchase a cheap pair of dark-colored gloves and cut off the tips, so that the only part of your hands exposed to the light are your nails.