by Chelsea Chew

Should I Use SPF on My Hands Before My Gel Manicure?

Image via @ish.haque

Who doesn’t love a fresh gel manicure? Gel nails look great, last ages and dry in what seems like seconds. But they do come with their own set of health risks—and it has to do with that drying process.

Technically called “curing,” it involves lamps that emit ultraviolet-A (UVA) rays, the very same rays we try to avoid from the sun and indoor tanning beds. Also the very same rays dermatologists are always warning us to avoid if we also want to avoid premature ageing and skin cancer.

UVA rays are the most mutagenic wavelength range of the UV spectrum, penetrating the skin more deeply than UVB rays and playing a role in skin cancer development and premature skin ageing, such as wrinkles and sunspots.

According to an official statement by the Skin Cancer Foundation, the use of LED and UV lamps are relatively safe to use as they emit negligible levels of UVA rays. However, if you’re still concerned, there is a way to stop your hands from running any kind of risk.

To protect your hands, simply apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher 5 to 20 minutes before exposure to the UV lamp. Remember not to put the sunscreen on your nails directly, as the product can contain materials that might affect the ability of the nail polish to stick.

Another great option is to wear fingertip-less gloves; you can recycle any old pair of gloves you find at home. Just cut the fingers out so your nails have plenty of room to stick through!

And if you decide to get a pedicure, you should consider taking the same precautions on your feet too.

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