Gel Manicure Could Lead to Cancer, Doctors Say

Doctors are shining some light on hidden risks of gel manicures.

It's the hottest new trend in nails: the gel manicure - fast drying, and no chipping.

But all that polish perfection may come at a price. Here's how it works – in between the layers of polish your nails go under a UV light, which creates the hard enamel finish. But it's that mini-bath of UV radiation that's making dermatologists nervous.

“The latest study tells us that ultraviolet radiation over our lifetime is cumulative so what that means is it's like filling a glass with water. You can put water in the glass and until it reached the lip, it won't spill over. Once it spills over, that's when we get skin cancers,” said Dr. Steve Grekin.

In fact, in a 2009 study in the Archives of Dermatology, doctors say two women got skin cancers of the hand after years of manicures using UV lights.

Remember all the exposure adds up.

“If you're older and you've been a boater, a golfer, a tennis player, you've, God forbid, baked in these tanning beds, and now you're putting your hands in these things you have tremendous potential to develop a skin cancer from these little devices,” said Grekin.

Here's the good news, there's another option. Now gel manicures can be done with LED lights, which emit less UV radiation than any other light source so they're not nearly as damaging.

“They use less electricity, that's why people change bulbs, but more importantly they do less damage to our skin based on the very low wavelength of light," said Grekin.

At the Franklin Spa, they have made the switch from UV to LED manicures.

Whether at the salon, or at home, if you're still using UV lights on your nails, lather up with sunscreen first, no matter what your movie.

"If it's all about looks, stop doing it. If it's really about health, stop doing it,' said Grekin.

Skin cancer usually develops after years of sun exposure. Remember, it's cumulative. The nail industry defends the UV lights used with gel manicures, saying the UV levels are so low there is no risk.

For more stories go to

Follow us on
Like us at