Are Gel Nail Lamps Safe? What You Need To Know

Do you love getting your nails done but worried about the use of UV light for gel nails? Keep reading to find out the most updated information about the safety of gel nail lamps and dryers!

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What Are Gel Nail Lamps Used For?

Nail lamps are used to 'dry' or cure gel products including hard gels, soft gels and gel polishes. These products can't dry with air like traditional nail polishes. There are 3 main types of lamps for nails:

UV 

These lamps operate using ultraviolet or UV light bulbs. When you take a peek into the device, you'll notice long, tube shaped light bulbs. Sometimes these tubes are in an U shape or coiled. When the light is turned on, it emits a purplish hue. 

UV bulbs last for about 1000 hours, but you should replace them at least once every six months. This is because faulty bulbs can affect how well gel cures. 

It takes at least 2 minutes to harden gel nail polish and other gel products.

LED

When you look inside these lamps, they are filled with small, circular LED bulbs. When turned on, these light bulbs emit a bluish hue.

The advantage of using LED nail lamps is that the bulbs don't need to be replaced. They can last up to 50 000 hours!

Another benefit is that LED compatible gel products cure much faster than UV lamps can. For example, it can take as little as 30 seconds to completely cure gel nail polish.

UV/LED Hybrid

Some nail companies have created nail lamps that emit both UV and LED lights. This is very useful because it'll work with all nail products that use UV or LED lights to cure.

Do UV Nail Lamps Cause Skin Cancer?

There is a clear link between too much ultraviolet (UV) exposure (from the sun or tanning beds) and increased cancer risk. This is because the DNA in our skin cells can be damaged by UV radiation. Over time, the damage accumulates and can cause the skin cells to grow out of control and turn into skin cancer.

In January 2023, a team of researchers from the University of California San Diego published a study where they used cells from mice and humans and exposed them to UV light using a professional nail lamp. They found that exposure to UV radiation did mutate and damage DNA in the cells. 

However, Dr. Maral Kibarian Skelseythis, a board certified dermatologist, says that this isn't enough evidence to prove that radiation from UV nail lamps will damage DNA and cause an increased risk of skin cancer for everyone. She stresses that other factors like a weakened immune system or skin cancer history should also be taken into consideration.

Are UV Lamps Safe?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers nail curing lamps as low risk as long as they are used as directed. There haven't been any reports of burns or cases of skin cancer directly related to the use of these lamps. However, the FDA cautions people with sensitivities to UV (from medical conditions or taking certain medications) to protect their hands or avoid the use of UV and LED nail lamps altogether.

Here are some easy ways to protect your hands from the effects of UV nail lamps:

If you're concerned about exposure to UV nail lights, you can try getting a nail service that doesn't involve gels. Some alternatives to UV dependent services include buff and shine (no color) natural manicures, regular polish manicures, and acrylic nail services.

Do LED Lamps Emit UV Rays?

Although some companies claim that their LED lamps don't emit ultraviolet radiation, all LED lights emit small amounts of UV

Are LED Light Lamps Better Than UV?

Many nail techs prefer to use LED over UV gel nail lamps. This is because most gels are now made for LED lamps, and they cure much faster (30 seconds versus 2 minutes or more). 

Although LED lamps do emit small amounts of UV light, many clients feel better about using them because they are exposed to UV rays in much smaller quantities.

Do Nail Salons Use LED or UV Lamps?

Depending on what nail products they use, nail salons can be using lamps with a UV or LED source, or a combination of both. Since LED compatible gels cure faster, these have become a popular nail lamp choice over recent years.

Are DIY Gel Manicure Kits Safe To Use?

Compared to professional nail dryers, at-home gel lamps are very much similar in terms of safety. Just be sure to use them as directed by the manufacturer. 

Which Are The Best LED and UV Nail Lamps For Gel Polish?

Here are our top picks for the best UV and LED nail lamps:

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LED Nail Lamp

Kiara Sky Beyond Pro Rechargeable LED Lamp Vol II (Pink)
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UV LED Hybrid Nail Lamp

SUNUV UV LED Nail Lamp
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Mini UV LED Hybrid Nail Lamp

Modelones Mini LED Nail Lamp
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Conclusion - Is It Safe To Get Gel Manicures?

Although researchers have found that UV nail dryers can damage DNA in human and mice cells, experts stress that more research needs to be done in order to make definitive conclusions about cancer risk. As confirmed by the FDA, unless you have medical reasons to limit or avoid UV exposure, there's a low risk when it comes to using LED or UV nail lamps to cure your gel manicures.

FAQs

What Are UV Gel Nails?

Can You Dry Gel Nail Polish Without A UV LED Nail Dryer?

Are UV LED Nail Lamps Only For Gel Manicures?

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About the Author Catherine

As a kid, I discovered the world of Japanese nail art through a magazine and since then, I haven't been able to stop thinking about anything related to nails! After following a more traditional educational path and earning my Bachelor's of Science in Food and Nutrition, I decided it was time to pursue my childhood passion. In 2015, I earned my diploma from Blanche Macdonald’s Nail Technology Program. After that, I got certified with YUMI Lashes and opened Sunday Beauty Boutique in 2017. These days, I'm focused on providing a 'no rush' experience to a select clientele, teaching as a nail instructor at Blanche Macdonald, as well as providing resources on beauty related topics to clients and estheticians on my blog.

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