Study: UV Nail Drying Lights May Have Negative Health Impacts

January 26, 2023

Tanning beds are listed as carcinogenic and UV nail lamps are mini tanning beds for your nails in order to cure the gel nail.

Assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Utah, Dr. Julia Curtis, on a recent study which found that ultraviolet lamps used in gel manicures/pedicures likely have harmful health impacts.

Background: UV nail lamps are present in many nail salons and can even be purchased for doing gel nails at home. The UV light – a form of electromagnetic radiation – helps gel polish harden. However, scientist Ludmil Alexandrov, an author of the recent study out of the University of California San Diego, explains: “If you look at the way these devices are presented, they are marketed as safe … But to the best of our knowledge, no one has actually studied these devices and how they affect human cells at the molecular and cellular levels until now.”

The Study: Researchers put different types of cells (some from human skin) under UV nail lamps, and “found that the use of these UV emitting devices for just one 20-minute session led to between 20 and 30 percent cell death, while three consecutive 20-minute exposures caused between 65 and 70 percent of the exposed cells to die,” UC San Diego’s news release on the study explains. The surviving cells experienced DNA and mitochondrial damage, which led to mutations with patterns which can be seen in skin cancer.

Why It Matters: While the research was not conducted on live humans – which could lead to different results – Dr. Julia Curtis explains, “The findings contribute to data already published regarding the harmful effects of (ultraviolet) radiation and show direct cell death and damage to tissue that can lead to skin cancer.”

A common nail salon tool may cause DNA damage and mutations in human cells, research finds (CNN)

News release on study: In cells, UV-emitting nail polish dryers damage DNA and cause mutations (UC San Diego Today)

Here’s the full study: DNA damage and somatic mutations in mammalian cells after irradiation with a nail polish dryer

by Jenna Lee,