I use my nails as tools and I love to clean so you can only imagine how easily my hands and nails can look like they were put into a blender. So I thought gel polish may be my savior to having my polish last longer and having pretty hands and nails or was it? I tried a gel polish manicure at my favorite spa and my nails looked shiny and gorgeous for 3 weeks. My rings looked better, I flashed my hands like crazy I was so in love! Then I started seeing news stories about the ultra-violet light that cures the polish but are there other hidden dangers? This is what I found when I started looking deeper into my new favorite addiction.
First I discovered that some of the gel nail polishes contain a chemical called methyl acrylate which can cause allergic skin reactions such as contact dermatitis. Removing the polish and treating the skin with a cortisone cream will clear the rash but do I really want to deal with having to treat a rash? So I dug even more into the gel polish craze.
As we know Gel nail polish is set or cured with ultraviolet light. I looked over to one of the other ladies at the spa and they were wearing special fingertip cut gloves to avoid being over exposed to ultraviolet light. If you are exposed to ultraviolet light for eight minutes every two weeks when you have a gel manicure, that can add up to significant exposure. So to avoid potential skin cancers on your fingers or hands, I suggest that you apply an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen to directly your hands and fingers after you wash your hands midway through the manicure. Then wear cotton gloves with the tips of the fingers cut off. You can purchase gloves at many beauty supply stores such as Sally’s Beauty. As you know, our hands show our age sometimes faster than our faces so proper protection is really needed not only for UV exposure but also for anti-aging.
Now that you have the polish on, you will need to remove the gel polish every couple weeks during your manicure and each time your manicurist will remove the gel polish by soaking or wrapping your nails in acetone. Acetone is a very drying and can cause your nail to become brittle and peel even after a short soak. So you will need to moisturize liberally to combat the dryness on both your hands, fingers and nail beds with a moisturizer and nail oil.
I also found out that the chemical, butylated hydroxyanisol (BHA), which is considered a cancer-causing agent, is found in some gel nail polishes. Experts are not able to tell us how much exposure would cause cancer to develop but why take a chance so check the ingredient list on the ones that your salon or spa utilize.
Finally just like with acrylic nails, the surface of your nail is usually roughened with an emery board, before gel polish is applied and scored to remove the polish. This tends to weaken your nail and could lead to breakage and infection.
So after doing all of this research I am now back to old fashioned weekly or biweekly manicures and trying harder than before not to use my nails as tools. You have to make the decision what is right for you but now you know a lot more than you did before about the risks of Gel Polish.