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Is a no-chip manicure bad for your health?

Barrington, IL - No-chip manicures have swiftly risen to fame, offering women that long-lasting polish they’ve always wanted. A manicure that dries quickly and can last at least two to three weeks? What’s not to love? However, as more women line up for this convenient and lasting service, doctors are worried about the health implications.

No-chip manicures involve a gel-based nail polish. The process 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 or more, depending on the brand and number of coats of polish applied.

The use of UV light is the first concern because it is the same type of light used in tanning beds, which has proven to increase the risk of skin cancer. Although the exposure is short, frequent no-chip manicures may increase the danger for common types of skin cancer or melanoma of the nail bed, which can be more difficult to treat.

Another concern is the process to remove the nail polish. Acetone, the chemical soaked on the nail for removal, is very drying, and can leave the nail thinner, causing it to become brittle making the nail bed more susceptible to infections and fungus. A manicurist could also leave the acetone on for too little time, and then try to scrape off the rest of the polish. This can seriously damage the nail, and in severe cases can cause the nail to fall off.

“The key is moderation. Instead of having a no-chip manicure every two weeks, get them less frequently to allow your nails to rehydrate,” says Dr. Melinda Einfalt, an internist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital.

Dr. Einfalt suggests that if you choose no-chip manicures, be sure to take some precautions including:

  • Apply sunscreen on your hands before the appointment.
  • Use a pair of gloves with the fingertips cut off to limit UV exposure.
  • Massage a moisturizer-like petroleum jelly on to the nail combat dryness.

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