Appreciated for their resistance and glossy finish, gel manicures have established themselves for several years in the beauty habits of women and men around the world. But an American study questions its safety, and more particularly that of the UV lamps required for this technique, which could eventually damage DNA and cause mutations that could increase the risk of skin cancer.
The application of a gel, or semi-permanent, varnish requires the use of UV lamps that allow the material to harden and dry quickly, while giving it a shiny appearance that is not found in classic nail polishes. Strengths that have propelled these two techniques to the rank of essential beauty products. It remains that the UV lamps used for these services, similar to tiny tanning beds, have not been the subject of scientific studies to date that demonstrate the safe and innocuous nature attributed to them. Unlike tanning booths, which produce – like nail lamps, although with greater intensity and with a different spectrum – mainly UVA rays, and whose increased risk of developing skin cancer is now proven.
After discovering cases of skin cancer on the hands in two healthy women who regularly used this type of manicure, a team of American researchers from the Universities of California in San Diego and Pittsburgh decided to take an interest in the impact of these UV lamps on human cells. at the molecular and cellular level. Their research, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggests that frequent and prolonged exposure to these lamps could damage DNA, leading to cell mutations similar to those seen in skin cancer patients.
20 to 30% of cells destroyed in 20 minutes
To reach these conclusions, the researchers exposed human and animal cells (mouse embryonic fibroblasts, human foreskin fibroblasts, and adult human keratinocytes) to these UV lamps under various conditions. “Each primary cell line was irradiated one, two, or three times, with each exposure duration ranging from 0 to 20 minutes. Cell viability was measured 48 hours after the last irradiation, and each condition was repeated at least three times. “, He says. the authors of the study.
At the end of their work, the researchers observed cytotoxicity induced by UV radiation emitted by nail lamps. They note that a single 20-minute irradiation caused 20-30% cell death, while three consecutive 20-minute exposures resulted in 65-70% cell destruction. The scientists also concluded that frequent and prolonged exposure could lead to mutations similar to those seen in skin cancer patients.
Results that now require a deeper epidemiological study before raising the alarm about these devices, which, it should be noted, are not used in the same way in each region of the world. “Such studies are likely to take at least a decade to complete and then report to the general public,” say the US researchers.
Less than 10 minutes in institute
If this study is not insignificant, it is important to point out that the work does not necessarily reflect the actual conditions of a gel manicure, whether it is done at home or in an institute. For such a service, the drying time after each layer of material -a base, two coats of varnish, a final coat- varies on average between 30 seconds and 120 seconds depending on the type of lamps used, and may even be less in some cases. institutes. Which means that at most your hands are supposed to spend 8 minutes under the lamp. A time much shorter than that experienced by the researchers. This does not mean that the risk is not real, far from it, but it does mean that studies should come to support this initial investigation.
Referring to a study carried out in 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US health agency, evokes “a low risk when [ces lampes] they are used according to label instructions.” Concluding: “To date, the FDA has not received any reports of burns or skin cancers attributed to these lamps”; however, the report dates from 2017.
Just 10 years ago, the Skin Cancer Foundation also alerted the public to the potential danger of these lamps. “Although studies have shown that the risk of skin cancer associated with UV-emitting nail lamps for gel manicures is very low, it is not negligible,” dermatologist Elizabeth K. Hale, an affiliate of the organization, said at the time. of prevention. Which she recommends from applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to the hands about twenty minutes before exposing them to these UV lamps, or specific gloves leaving only the nails exposed. However, she specifies: “If you are going to get a manicure, the safest thing to do is to let your nails air dry.”
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