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Nail Polish Safety Not Cut and Dried

Researchers report that exposure to UV-light emitted by nail polish dryers killed significant numbers of cells in tests, and resulted in cancer-causing mutations. Photo credit: Sun & Skin News

To help speed curing of manicure gels, nail polish salons often feature drying devices that use ultraviolet light. Though the spectrum of light is different than that used in tanning beds, new research suggests the drying devices result in cell death and cancer-causing mutations.

“If you look at the way these devices are presented, they are marketed as safe, with nothing to be concerned about,” said Ludmil Alexandrov, PhD, a professor of bioengineering and cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego, and corresponding author of a new study published January 17 in Nature Communications

“But to the best of our knowledge, no one has actually studied these devices and how they affect human cells at the molecular and cellular levels until now.”

Alexandrov and colleagues did just that, exposing different cell lines, human and mouse, to a single 20-minute exposure, which resulted in 20 to 30 percent cell death. When they did three consecutive 20-minute exposures, the cell death rate went up to 65-70 percent.

The researchers caution that, while the results show the harmful effects of the repeated use of these devices on human cells, a long-term epidemiological study would be required before stating conclusively that using these machines leads to an increased risk of skin cancers. However, the results of the study were clear: the chronic use of these nail polish drying machines is damaging to human cells.

You can read more here.

— Katherine Connor