Inside The Health Concerns Swirling Around UV Nail Polish Dryers

Gel manicures have taken over the nail world and the concept has been truly revolutionary. Gone are the days of traditional polish chipping within seconds, as using gel keeps your manicure looking perfect for considerably longer than the old-school polish methods many of us grew up using (via Southern Living). While gel polish may have revolutionized how long your nails stay perfectly manicured, there are some downsides to the process. 

Does gel polish ruin your natural nails, for instance? Manicurists have found that removing the gel on your own could land you in some serious trouble with your nail beds, as reported by SELF. However, you can safely do so with the help of a professional (and you should). There can be other mistakes made when applying gel polish to your nails, too, from neglecting cuticle care by not using oil to prep to leaving the polish on your nails for too long. 

Suffice it to say, plenty of errors can easily be made when getting regular gel manicures. However, a shocking new study has found that it's not only the polish that can be damaging to your nails. The UV dryers used to make gel manicures so convenient and long-lasting could be mutating cells and causing cancer. 

A study found that cells may mutate under the UV dryer

According to a study published in Nature Communications, the UV dryers that will be familiar to anybody who regularly gets a gel manicure can lead to cell mutations that may cause cancer. The research looked at two different conditions that can occur in cells during exposure to UV lights by comparing acute and chronic exposure. Acute subjects were under the UV dryers for two 20-minute periods with an hour break in between. During the chronic study, cells were exposed for 20 minutes, three days in a row. For the acute cells, there was a 20 to 30% death. However, for chronic subjects, there was 65 to 70% cell death.

As a researcher involved in the project shared in a statement: "We also saw that some of the DNA damage does not get repaired over time, and it does lead to mutations after every exposure with a UV-nail polish dryer." Likewise, "We saw that exposure may cause mitochondrial dysfunction, which may also result in additional mutations. We looked at patients with skin cancers, and we see the exact same patterns of mutations in these patients."

The authors, therefore, take issue with the UV dryers being labeled as safe when there are clear risks involved. However, you may not have to ditch your gel manicures just yet since the researchers are hoping to find more data in the near future that can further explain the risk of cancer-causing UV dryers.