Getting a manicure is more than just having nice looking hands. For many, a trip to the nail salon is precious relaxation time, or a treat to help us to unwind. Getting a shellac (or gel) manicure however poses several health concerns, meaning this beauty treat is probably one best forgotten. Here are the reasons why:
1. Skin cancer risk
One of the advantages of shellac nail polish is that it dries fast, and lasts forever. Why? Because you hold your nails, and consequently your hands, under powerful UV-A nail curing lights (the same lights used in a tanning bed, which, some studies suggest, are actually 3 to 5 times stronger). While there are still studies being conducted about the exact danger of this, the exposure to UV light may promote the development of skin cancer, and can also age the skin on your hands, encouraging sun spots, sun damage and fine lines.
2. Acetone use
Removing shellac or gel requires the nails to be soaked in pure acetone – a harsh chemical – which softens the polish, enabling the nail technician to physically scrape it from the nails. The damaging action of scraping ruins natural nails, causing them to thin out. A number of studies performed by the American Academy of Dermatology have shown that the nail bed thins out considerably following gel manicures, which can take a long time, and plenty of TLC, to return to normal health.
Acetone can also absorb into the blood stream, which means this strong chemical has direct access into your body.
3. Masks other problems
With a permanent gel manicure, it is impossible to assess the actual health of the nail underneath to see what is going on. There is risk of infection or even tumour under the nail that is masked by the constant polish.
While gel and shellac manicures look fabulous, and are a long-lasting solution to a regular manicure, the risks far outweigh the benefits. While the best bet health-wise is to wear your nails sans nail polish, if you do opt for a manicure, go for the non-toxic varieties of polish, or if they're not available, use regular polish sparingly, and allow time for your natural nails to breath between polishes.
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