February 27, 2023

By, Doug Schoon

For over 20 years, millions of people have regularly and safely used UV gel nail products. Along with this long history of safe use, all scientific evidence demonstrates that UV nail lamps are safe, when used according to well-established safe practices. 

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), UV nail lamps are safe as used in nail salons. A statement on the FDA website concludes that “…the FDA views nail curing lamps as low risk when used as directed by the label… To date, the FDA has not received any reports of burns or skin cancer attributed to these lamps.” 

RadTech, a nonprofit dedicated to the safe use of ultraviolet and electron beam technologies, supports the FDA and also The Professional Beauty Association’s (PBA) Nail Manufacturers Council on Safety (NMC) statements that point to studies by scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University showing that “typical nail salon exposures are well within the limits of permissible daily UV exposure.” The researchers also found that the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer was many times lower than the risks associated with being exposed to noonday natural sunlight–and that one would need 250 years of weekly nail sessions to equal the theoretical (and low) risk of a single UV light treatment for certain skin conditions such as psoriasis–concluding that “it is highly improbable that any salon customer, no matter the level of nail lamp use, will exceed safe levels of UV exposure.” 

“In reality, the UV exposure created by nail lamps is very minimal,” says Doug Schoon, NMC Safety co-chair and an internationally-recognized scientist, author and educator with over 30 years’ experience in the cosmetic, beauty and personal care industry. “The Journal of Investigative Dermatology concludes that UV nail lamps are safe and do not cause, or increase the risk of, cancer. In fact, there are no peer-reviewed studies that show an association between human skin cancer and gel nail lamps.” 

Studies do mention precautions for safe UV nail lamp use, including by those who may be taking medication that requires them to avoid natural sunlight or for those who may have a condition that makes them extra sensitive to UV radiation. As with all nail care products, the condition of the nail plate should always be checked prior to application (or removal) of UV gels. And for individuals that may have a concern about UV safety, an opaque glove with the fingertips cut off or a cloth over the hand may be used when the nails are being dried.