Gel manicures have become a saving grace in the nail community. They’re long-lasting, require less follow-up, and, thanks to quick-dry UV lamps instead of standard fans, they guarantee no smudging once cured. But for all the great work UV lamps do for the nails, why doesn’t “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” star Kourtney Kardashian use them?
In a recent post on her website and app about her mani upkeep, the reality star wrote, “[A] concern is the UV light that’s used in curing (or sealing) a gel manicure, which can age the skin with brown spots and wrinkles.” She’s exactly right; UV (ultraviolet) light, which is known to cause sun damage, affects the collagen in the skin.
UVA, a type of wave in most UV gel manicure dryers, penetrates deep into the skin, irreparably damaging collagen. This causes the brown spots and wrinkles that Kardashian warns against. Along with her concerns about premature aging, there has also been a lot of controversy around whether these lamps can cause skin cancer.
Although many salons now use LED bulbs over UV because they’re faster (on average, it takes around 30 seconds to cure), Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, the senior vice president of the Skin Cancer Foundation, says all lamps, no matter LED or UV, produce some sort of UV radiation. She continues, “However, even the most intense of these devices presents only a moderate UV risk – a far lower risk than that presented by UV tanning devices.”
In an interview with The Atlantic, Paolo Boffetta, director of cancer prevention at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, claims that simply walking outside poses an even greater risk than gel nail curing. “Being outside on a very sunny day will make a much bigger difference, in terms of the amount of exposure people get compared to this sort of thing [gel nail curing],” Boffetta said.
Even though cancer might not be at the forefront of gel-curing concerns, Kardashian’s worries about aging skin is still important. So, instead of UV or LED lamps, her go-to is “a line of gel polishes by Bio Seaweed Gel that uses natural sunlight to cure my manicures, which means there’s zero dehydration or weakening of the natural nails that UV light rays can cause.” Now, sunlight still has UV rays, but this method isn’t as concentrated.
And if you’re still looking for a quick-dry by UV or LED, doctors recommend wearing gloves with the fingertips cut off or applying liberal amounts of sunscreen. Whether Kardashian’s way or the fingerless glove route, taking care of the skin around your nails is just as important as taking care of the nails themselves.