No-chip manicures involve a gel-based nail polish that includes a base coat, two coats of polish and a sealer which is applied and then cured to the nail under ultraviolet (UV) lights. When it’s time to remove the polish, the manicurist wraps acetone-soaked pads around the nail for 10 to 40 minutes, depending on the brand and number of coats applied.
In the past decade, the popularity of no-chip manicures has increased. No-chip manicures are applied in nearly the same amount of time as a traditional manicure and provide many more benefits such as durability, high-shine, and the longevity and sturdiness of artificial nails without as much upkeep or time commitment. It also improves the appearance of the nails, especially for those with nail disorders that traditional nail polishes cannot cover.
Despite the benefits, no-chip manicures have negative health implications. The UV lamp that is required to dry the polish and bind it to the nail, emits ultraviolet A (UVA) rays. Although these rays don’t burn the skin like ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, they penetrate the skin and damage DNA and collagen which can lead to premature aging and increase the risk for skin cancer. Some salons use LED lamps which they claim are a safer option, but this is a misconception. These lamps still emit UVA light and even though the lamps are used for just a short period of time, research indicates that the UV rays emitted are four times stronger than the sun’s UV rays. Moreover, the repeated UV exposure of frequent manicures has a cumulative effect. Other risks include the physical damage to the nail or separation of the nail plate from the nail bed.
Although some salons offer gloves to wear during a no-chip manicure, not all salons provide a safe solution to protect your hands and fingers from UV rays. Until that solution exists across all salons, all customers should protect themselves by using fingerless gloves or sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Remember, most sunscreens need to be applied at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure for full protection unless using a zinc-based product. There is no need to apply sunscreen to the nails as they have their own natural UV protection and it could interfere with the gel polish.
A no-chip manicure can give your nails a great, long-lasting look. If performed properly with UV protection, you can enjoy the benefits without experiencing the negative side effects. If you do get no-chip manicures regularly, be sure to ask your dermatologist to check your hands thoroughly during your annual skin check.