Welp, we can't say we didn't see this one coming. According to a just-released study by the Skin Cancer Foundation, research has shown that ultraviolet radiation-emitting devices are carcinogenic to humans, and that includes our beloved gel manicure UV curing lamps.
"Although studies have shown that the skin cancer risk associated with UVR-emitting nail lamps for gel manicures is very low, it is not insignificant," says Elizabeth K. Hale, M.D., vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation. According to anecdotal research, the risk is greatest for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which the Skin Cancer Foundation says is the second most common skin cancer and is mainly caused by chronic UV exposure and is "very common on the hands and around the fingernails." The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 700,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed each year in the US, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.
The question of cancer was raised initially when gel manicures first launched, but the evidence was deemed inconclusive. Still, we had a feeling that jamming our hands under those blue lights every two weeks probably wasn't doing our skin any real favors. Not to mention, the possibility of premature aging and hyperpigmentation.
Takeaway: While the risk is low, there's still a risk, so you need to decide if you're willing to take it. Personally, we're not thinking a long-lasting manicure is worth the possibility (no matter how small) of skin cancer, especially when there are other UV-free options available to us now. But, if you are a gel die-hard and simply must get your polish fix, be sure to apply an SPF 15 sunscreen or higher on your hands prior to your manicure appointment.