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Is Gel Nail Polish Safe

Pacifica Plant Magic Polish In Golden Hour


Easiest application

This blushing shade is a versatile pick that you can dress up or tone down depending on your mood. Its vegan, 100 percent cruelty-free, and free of 16 toxins. The extra-wide brush makes polishing your nails easier. Pacifica is a well-established brand in the clean beauty world, which matters. As a study in Environmental Science & Technology explains, phrases like 3-free and 16-free on nail polish labels vary by brand and arent validated by a third party. Youre taking the company at its word, so make sure you trust it. Finish off your home manicure with a moisturizing cuticle oil.

Karma Organic Nail Polish In Francis

Best organic

Neon nail polish is so on-trend, and this pop of orange adds excitement. We love the fact that this is 100 percent organic and safe for people with allergieseven the kiddos. Not ready to go full orange? Use this as an accent color when creating nail art designs. Another great reason to use non-toxic nail polish: Its easier to remove even bright colors and is less likely to irritate your skin. According to Harvard Medical School, non-toxic nail polish cuts down on the number of chemicals that can cause contact dermatitis , making it a potentially better option for people with sensitive skin.

The Duration And Frequency Of Light Exposure Is Brief

“The negativity surrounding gel manicures is due to the thought of how damaging the UV light is to the nails,” Shields said. “LED lights have very minimal amounts of UV rays emitted.” Still, people like me worry about the UV exposure, given its rep. The general consensus is that UV rays are extremely bad for your skin but Shields pointed out that the UV damage “depends on the duration and frequency of exposure.” So as long as you aren’t getting a gel manicure more than once a month, you should be in the clear.

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Is My Skin Safe With Getting Gel Manicures

Yes. The cure lamps used to dry each coat will expose your skin to additional stress, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself.

If you have the choice, LED curing will be better for your skin than UV.

Whichever curing option you choose, find a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen to protect your skin before applying gel polish. There are also special gel manicure gloves you can buy for this exact purpose, and if you’re particularly worried, using both SPF and manicure gloves can’t hurt.

If you have unhealthy nail beds, weak cuticles or other concerns, consult your manicurist. They will advise you if gel nails are right for you and what to do best to protect or strengthen your skin and nails.

Safe Nail Polish Guide

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Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will result in a small commission for me , but all opinions are my own. You can find our full affiliate disclaimer here.;

After dozens of tests, were reviewing 15 non-toxic nail polish brands that actually perform, and sharing why you may want to avoid conventional polish.

In this guide, we are sharing why you should consider making the switch to non-toxic nail polish, and giving you all of our favorite non-toxic nail polish brands, including nail polish removers and safer nail polish options for kids!

This article has been a LONG time coming! I really started my research on safer nail polish years ago, when we were first considering starting a family. From there, I’ve learned a lot about what matters, what doesn’t matter, what to prioritize, and some of the pro’s and con’s of the safer polish brand options out there. We utilized the EWG, our own extensive use of the polishes , and the websites of each individual brand to help formulate our guide!

For those of you curious about more of the geeky skincare science AND for those of you curious about how to navigate salon options , we have those articles coming next!

Let’s dig in

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The Down Low On Gel Nails Polish

Rather than drying by airing, gel nail polish dries through a UV dryer used to cure the gel nail polish. Gel nails;are also great for those people who suffer from weak or peeling nails.They provide a protective layer leading to a stronger and healthier nail that is protected;from the elements. Unlike acrylic nails, they look much more realistic and natural. They have a glossy finish to them and are much thinner than acrylic nails which means that they feel more natural to wear. For busy women gel manicure;are a heaven-sent as they last longer and only need filling every two four weeks. This depends on a lot of factors though, one being how fast your nails grow or what kind of environment your hand work under, such gardening or tool use. To recap the pros:

  • They are odorless and non-toxic.

  • They feel and look more natural and realistic, few people will realize they are fake nails.

  • Have glossy finish which makes them very aesthetic as well-being very slim.

  • They last longer and require less fillings.

  • Are more flexible making them less prone to damage or lifting.

  • Tend to shatter.

Real Concern: Some Gel Polishes Contain Methylacrylate

Despite the fact much of the media has lead us to believe any chemical with a name longer than two syllables will give us cancer, methylacrylate is not associated with cancer. On the other hand, methylacrylate;is;associated with an increased risk of contact dermatitis . According to Dr. Susan Taylor, M.D., author of;Rx for Brown Skin, Wherever comes into contact with the skin, a rash may develop. Because we inadvertently touch our eyes throughout the day, the rash can also involve our eyelids. The rash from methylacrylate is usually red, itchy, bumpy and uncomfortable. It may last a week or two. Removing the polish and treating the skin with a cortisone cream will clear the rash.

Rumors on the internet say that methacrylate will cause shortness of breath as well, but again, you have to ingest not apply ;a lot;of methacrylate. . So dont be too concerned about methacrylate and shortness of breath. Be concerned about contact dermatitis!;

Bottom line: Avoid polishes with methylacrylate. I like , which is methacrylate-free.

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Theres A Big Difference Between Gels And Regular Polish

Okay, so at least were not completely off-base. Gel technology is unique because although it applies like a traditional nail lacquer, the gel has a chemical composition that enables it to harden or cure to a glossy finish with a UV light, which prevents the need to sit and wait for it to dry, says Dr. Stern.

Does Gel Nail Polish Ruin Your Nails

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No. Because gel polish applies to your natural nail, unlike fake nails, which are glued on top of your nail, it will not cause any permanent damage. While you will want to be careful to properly remove your gel nails, with proper maintenance, your natural nails will not sustain any lasting harm.

The best way to remove gel nails is to go to a salon and have the process done by a professional.

That said, you can also do it at home fairly easily if you are familiar with the steps. Simply;soak the nails;in 100% acetone for at least 10 minutes. Then, the edges should start to lift, and with gentle nudging from a cuticle pusher, the polish should come right off.;

Another important part when using gel nail polish is to let your nails rest between applications. A common misconception is that this step is necessary because the nails need to breathe. While this isn’t the case nails are made of keratin just like hair, and therefore don’t need to breathe the way skin does it’s true that your nails will need a gel break from time to time.

With proper time allotted between manicures to restore your nail beds, using gel polish will have no harmful effects on your natural nails.

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Are Gel Nail Extensions Safe

If applied and removed properly, gel extensions are very safe. “They’re considered a healthier version of acrylics especially because they don’t have the powder or harsh chemicals like methyl methacrylate and toluene,” says Seney. You just need to be sure to find a professional you trust and one who has good reviews.;

Youre Leaving Gel Polish On Too Long

Since gel nail polish can be worn for weeks on end without even the tiniest chip, stretching the life of your manicure is tempting. However, Hadley suggests removing a gel manicure after two to three weeks maximum to avoid damaging nail beds and cuticles. Harpring agrees, adding that overextending gel manicures can not only lead to weakened nails, but also introduce potentially harmful bacteria. It is important to remember that once the gel begins to lift, it does allow for moisture to get under the gel and possibly lead to bacterial growth, explains Harpring.

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Try To Limit Your Exposure To The Uv Lamp

A recent study from the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that gel manicures may not be a safe option for people who are highly sensitive to UV light. The UV dose that you receive during a gel manicure is brief, but its intense, Dr. Adigun said in the study. Over time, this intense exposure can add up to cause skin damage.

“An additional concern is the rise in popularity of LED nail lamps,” Dr. Adigun notes of her own research on the safety of gel manicures. LED lamps have become popular as much for their faster curing times as the belief that they’re safer than UV lamps, but Dr. Adigun insists this is not the case. “Although many people mistakenly believe these lamps do not use UVA to cure, they in fact use higher intensities of UVA wavelengths in order to achieve the shorter curing times. This higher intensity of UVA irradiance means that it requires less time for these lamps to potentially harm the skin,” she explains.

Instead, Dr. Adigun recommends bringing along your own pair of YouVeeShield gloves to protect your hands against UVA radiation . “It is the most protective material protects the entire digits and wrist,” Dr. Adigun says.

How You Can Avoid The Dangers Of Gel Nail Polish

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Last updated 18th of September 2016Are you tired of acrylic nails? Do you want to try something new that doesnt suffocate you with its odorous fumes or can potentially harm your unborn child? Well youre in;luck because science and fashion have both teamed up to create gel nail polish. The latest in nail enhancements that doesnt come with that horrible odor or toxic chemicals that can harm your unborn child, this means that pregnant women dont have to be sidelined from yet another thing. Everyday gel nail polish is rising in popularity but despite this a lot of people still dont know much about it or how it differs from acrylic nails. Check out our guide on just that, gel nails vs acrylic nails.

MUST READ: Gel nails vs Acrylic Nails, who wins?

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How To Protect Yourself:

Adigun emphasized shes not anti-gel, and that you can still get gel manicures as long as you protect your skin.

The best way is to cover your hands and fingers with a garment that has a UPF rating, whether its a glove with the tips cut off, a shirt or a scarf, she said. TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas demonstrated gloves especially designed for this purpose that you can buy.

The American Academy of Dermatology also recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your hands before getting a gel manicure. Adigun still preferred a physical cover rather than sunscreen because its not clear how effective sunscreen is in blocking the intense UVA rays emitted by some of the lamps.

Be aware there are many medications that can increase your sensitivity to UV light, such as doxycycline, an oral antibiotic. People taking these drugs must be extra careful to protect their skin during a gel manicure to avoid blistering or burns on their hands.

Know Your Lamp Differences

The main difference between the LED and straight UV Lamps is efficiency. Shields said, “LED lights are a more efficient way to generate light. Just the like the LED lightbulbs used in ordinary house lighting, they last a very long time and generate adequate amounts of light. And thatâs why we formulated our system using a LED light instead of a UV light.” Again, the LED allows for safer and quicker curing of the gel polish with less UV rays.

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Are There Other Risks

Although gel manicures are unlikely to increase the risk of developing skin cancer, they arent risk-free. The amount of UV light necessary to set the polish can lead to photo-agingthe skin changes including pigmentation and DNA damage that result from chronic UV exposure.

And while much of the attention paid to UV light has focused on its potential to damage the skin, the rays can negatively impact your eyes as well. UV exposure is a main cause of cataracts, and may even contribute to macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people. Manicurists may be at a higher risk for developing these UV-induced eye problems because theyre exposed to the light for frequent, prolonged periods of time.

Finally, the application and removal of the polish itself can pose risks to nail health as well. The thick gel blocks oxygen transfer through the nail, and can make nails thin and discolored. It can even cause separation from the nail bed or hide an infection. Removing the gel is no easy featnails must be soaked in pure acetone in order to scrape polish offand both the chemical and manual scraping can dehydrate and damage the nails.

Still All Gel Manicures Can Mess Up Your Nails


Yup, sorryits true. Theyre not great for your nails. A study out of Miami School of Medicine used ultrasound to demonstrate that that gel manicures do cause nail thinning, says Dr. Stern, noting that the exact reason for the thinning was unclear to the authors, though its likely due to either the acetone soak thats required to remove the gel, or the actual chemical composition of the gel polish.

Another cause may be if the gels are incorrectly removed, she says. Which, if youve ever scrubbed at your regular polish with some acetone, you already know how drying it after just a few minutes. My personal opinionand what I have observed in my practiceis that most of the damage is from the removal process, especially if manufacturers instructions are not followed, or two different brands are mixed and used.

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How Can I Protect Myself

Despite the possible risks, theres no need to completely forego gel manicures. But there are a number of ways you can effectively protect your skin, eyes, and nails before and during your trip to the salon:

  • Wear sunscreen during gel manicures or consider wearing photoprotective gloves with the fingertips cut off.
  • Consider wearing sunglasses to provide UV protection.
  • Take a break between gel manicures to improve the health of your nails.
  • Nourish nails with cuticle oil once the polish comes off.
  • Ask your manicurist what kind of lamp he or she usesLED lamps generate light more efficiently and can limit UV exposure.

Is Your Nail Polish Toxic

Researchers Find Toxins in Nail Polish Labeled ‘Toxin-Free’; Industry Says Report Lacks Perspective

Some nail polishes and other products used at salons and labeled toxin-free may have high levels of toxic chemicals, according to a new California report.

“The labeling does not always reflect the ingredients,” says scientist Valetti Lang, acting manager of the Pollution Prevention Branch of the Department of Toxic Substances Control for the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Her team bought 25 nail products from distributors in May 2011. They sent the samples to an independent lab.

The lab tested the products for three chemicals — dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde — commonly called the ”toxic trio.”

The chemicals have been of concern for their potential health risks, especially to nail salon workers.

In recent years, some nail product makers have removed these chemicals from their products, then labeled them as non-toxic.

“What we found out is that in many of the cases the label was inaccurate,” Lang tells WebMD. “And that’s really what our message is. We don’t know if our samples are representative of the industry.”

Some products that did not carry a toxic-free label actually had none of the chemicals in them, the researchers also found.

Some of the products tested are also for sale to consumers in beauty supply stores or via the Internet.

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Accept That Gel Manicures Might Not Be For You

Using a long-lasting nail polish formula can be a great alternative to gels with less hassle around removal. Because these polishes have a base coat in them, you can get away with fewer layers of polish, minimizing potential chipping. “Gels are super long-lasting, but some polish formulas are, too. This is exactly why we made a longer-lasting polish at Olive & Junewe had clients wanting the wearability of gel, in an easy-to-remove polish formula,” explains Tuttle.

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With normal manicures, the nail technician applies a base coat, a double coat of polish and finishes off your fingers with a clear top coat designed to protect the color. Unfortunately, normal polishes dont last too long because the polish starts wearing off. Combine the natural wear and tear of polish with how often our;nails are exposed to activities that beg for polish to come off think washing dishes, opening things and oh, just about everything and youre lucky if you get a few days out of that salon appointment.

Gel manicures work differently. First, a nail tech applies a dehydrator on the nail followed by a coat of primer gel and about three coats of colored gel, the polish youve chosen. Each coat of gel is set with a stint of one to three minutes under a UV lamp. Shellac, a type of gel manicure, works similarly, but there are more coating steps, about six to seven total.

The time spent under the UV light is what makes the gel manicure so durable. It sets the polish, letting it harden to keep it looking good. Unfortunately, it can come at a price literally and figuratively, since gel manicures can be double or even triple the price of a normal salon manicure .

While the lamps that are used in a gel manicure session arent as strong as those in, say, a tanning bed, they arent harmless. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, nail salon lamps produce mostly UVA rays, which have been linked to skin cancer and premature aging.

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