You just got your nails done at a salon, and now they’re drying under an ultraviolet lamp. They’ll look great. But exposure to UV radiation could prematurely age your hands and even potentially boost your risk of skin cancer.
Researchers found that the output from such nail salon dryers is highly variable. They measured the amount of irradiation from dryers with different bulbs across 16 salons. Higher-wattage lamps emitted higher levels of harmful UV.
The researchers assumed an eight-minute UV exposure each time. The damage to DNA from UV exposure is cumulative. So salon customers sitting under the highest-intensity nail dryer just eight times in two years could reach the threshold for DNA damage associated with cancer. In contrast, users of the lowest-emitting dryer would need more than 200 visits over a half century. The study is in the journal JAMA Dermatology. [Lyndsay R. Shipp et al, Further Investigation Into the Risk of Skin Cancer Associated With the Use of UV Nail Lamps]
The small study needs to be replicated on a large scale to be confirmed. But for now, the researchers advise salon-goers to load up on sunscreen or wear UV-blocking gloves with the fingertips lopped off before going under the lamp. Maybe just air dry. Oh, and try not to breathe the nail polish fumes either.
—Dina Fine Maron
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]