Are Gel Manicures Worth the Risk?

Before jumping on gel manicure bandwagon, Lindsay Leff wondered, is all that UV light exposure safe for hands?

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There's nothing I hate more than getting a fresh manicure, and within a couple of days (or hours, in my case), having my once perfect polish-job fall victim to tons of ugly chips and smudges. So, I excitedly made an appointment for my first gel mani just in time for my big trip to Miami. However, I had my concerns.

Gel manicures seal with the help of a UV light. Each coat dries under the light for two minutes, which means each hand is super-close to the rays four times. I wondered if the repeated exposure to UV lights could be safe, especially to hands, the first part of the body to show signs of aging.

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The solution? Carry a tube of SPF30 or higher to apply to hands right before each burst of light. Broad-spectrum sunscreens work best as they protect from both UVA and UVB rays.

With this new piece of safety information, I was ready for my appointment. I sat down at the manicure booth and began what was a fairly speedy process. First, my nails were cleaned, filed, buffed and polished with UV Base Coat. Then, the manicurist applied the neon orange and silver glitter colors I chose, followed by a UV topcoat to seal the deal.

I was hesitant to dig around my handbag for my wallet immediately afterward, but to my surprise, my nails were bone-dry. For the first time ever, my impatience and quick moves weren't going to ruin things.

It's been a full week since my gel mani and as you can see from the photos above, the polish is perfectly intact and as shiny as ever! While this is a major manicure game changer, I'm keeping gel manicures a special-occasion-only habit to limit the amount of unnecessary UV exposure. Besides, giving myself manicures is a hobby I could never really give up.

Lindsay Leff is a beauty industry veteran who created Kiss and Wear to showcase her favorite products, dissect celebrity beauty looks, and teach others how to live with style.

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