RICHMOND (WRIC) - Gel manicures are all the rage in the nail world, but some dermatologists fear the process used to get that long-lasting, no-chip look could increase your risk of skin cancer.
Instead of getting her normal manicure, Tiffany Bartholf is trying gel polish for the first time.
These types of manicures are becoming increasingly popular across the country. Most women love the patent leather gleam that can last weeks without a crack.
The polish is applied in four to five layers, with each one dried under a UV lamp, using UV-A rays. But some dermatologists worry the process could increase a person's skin cancer risk.
"It penetrates the skin deeper and that's the ray that actually is very harmful, causes skin cancer and photo-aging," says Dr. Laurie Shinn of Commonwealth Dermatology.
Tanning beds use the same lights.
A new study by researchers at the University of California - San Francisco has linked them to over 170,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. every year.
By comparison, a case study published in the archives of dermatology found only two people have developed the disease after regular use of nail lamps.
But Dr. Shinn says that study didn't look at the right thing. New research by doctors out of Boston looks at the actual lamps and shows there's a very low cancer risk.
"The difference is how many bulbs you're being exposed to increases how much UV radiation you're getting and the length of time that you're in there."
Most women who get gel nails come in about every three weeks. Each time they go under the UV lamp for around eight minutes.
"It's compared to you walking from here to your car each visit coming to the salon so it's very minimal," says Mimi Le, co-owner of Luxury Nails & Salon
Dr. Shinn cautions more research needs to be done before any firm conclusion is drawn.
In the meantime, she recommends buying and wearing fingerless gloves when going under the nail UV light.
Some places offer sunscreen for any clients who are concerned, but, like Tiffany Bartholf, there aren't many.
"Honestly it's the least of my concern for skin cancer would be my nail lamp," she says.
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