Controversy continues as UV nail lamp use is on the rise

By Ameann DeJohn

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ultraviolet Sunlight Sun tanning

The use of UV nail lamps has increased due to the overwhelming success of gel soak off nail polishes.

These long lasting gel polishes have become a favorite among consumers due to the long-lasting technology. The UV lamps cure the polish and increase the longevity of the polish.

In 2009, the report, "Occurrence of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers on the Hands After UV Nail Light Exposure" (MacFarlane and Alonso), stated that there was an association between tanning bed use and UV nail lights emitting high doses of UVA which may lead to non-melanoma skin cancer.

UV nail lamps deemed safe when used as directed

Using salon services involving a UV nail lamp does not increase the likelihood of developing skin or eye cancers reports an independent study published by the Nail Manufacturers Council.

According to the Council, claims that the UV exposure of UV nail lamps is similar to that of experienced by users of UV tanning beds is inaccurate.

The Nail Manufacturers Council states that typical client exposure during professional UV nail lamp service is not more harmful than a few extra minutes of natural sunlight exposure while driving a car.

"UV nail lamps don't burn or tan the fingers and are obviously nothing like tanning,"​ says Doug Schoon, co-chair of the Nail Manufacturers Council. 

Moreover, to respond to these exaggerations with scientific facts, Schoon, and two colleagues hired a completely independent scientific testing laboratory, Lighting Science, Inc., to measure the UV-A and UV-B exposure emitted from UV nail lamps and also from natural sunlight. 

Nail lamps have less UV-B exposure than natural sunlight

The study evaluated UV exposure to a typical client, determined to be one who visits a salon for UV gel nail application or maintenance twice each month, receiving a total of 6-10 minutes of UV nail lamp exposure per hand per visit. 

Comparisons of the measurements of UV-A and UV-B light in a single salon visit show that the UV-B exposure is equal to that of spending an extra 17 to 26 seconds in natural sunlight per day while the UV-A exposure corresponds to an extra 1.5 to 2.7 minutes per day in natural sunlight. 

Since UV-B is considered by many to be more potentially damaging to skin than UV-A, and UV nail lamps rely on special UV bulbs containing internal coatings designed to filter out more of the UV-B light it is noted that these UV lights are safe.  

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