A two week manicure…but is it safe?

By Heather Woolery-Lloyd

I have recently learned about a new gel based manicure called Shellac.  Shellac uses a new technology that goes on like a polish but wears like a gel, resulting in high gloss and chip free nails for 2 weeks!!! This would be a dream come true because one of the main reasons I don’t get manicures is because I take gloves on and off all day and a manicure typically lasts 1-2 days tops with that kind of wear and tear.  The great news is that the Shellac manicure really does last 2 weeks (and probably even longer).  This is very exciting news for those of us whose nails always chip.  But the real question is “are these products safe?”.

Gel based manicures and Shellac both use a UV light to cure and set the nails.  Excessive UV light (like tanning beds) clearly increases the risk of skin cancer.  There are even 2 case reports in the literature of women who developed skin cancer on their hands that may have been related to repeated UV light exposure from manicures. There is a solution to this dilemma which would be to apply sunscreen prior to the manicure.  That being said, I don’t think I would want to expose my hands to UV light every two weeks for the rest of my life just to have perfectly manicured hands-that would add up to a lot of unnecessary UV exposure.  But I do think that if this treatment is done occasionally and sunblock is applied prior to the manicure, the risk of exposure is much less significant.  The great thing about Shellac is that, unlike traditional gel manicures, it does not require extended soaking in acetone or chipping/drilling for removal.  The nails are just wrapped in an acetone soaked gauze for 10 minutes and the product is removed.  So the verdict is “Shellac” is a great new option for people who seek long lasting manicures.  In moderation, and with sunscreen, this technology could really make chipped nails a thing of the past!

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