Dangers of a No-Chip Manicure

Car­ing for the del­i­cate skin on your fin­gers and hands dur­ing a gel manicure

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.

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