Don’t get ripped off by your nail salon

Jennifer’s Jittery: My nail salon uses a UV nail polish dryer. Should I be worried about age spots on the top of my hands and feet from the UV light?

The Beauty Brains respond:

fingerWe looked into UV dryers and found that the wavelength of the light they produce IS the same type that causes photo-aging and skin cancer. (That’s the UVA range from about 320 nm to 400 nm for those of you keeping score at home.)

Nail dryers won’t cause sunburn

Fortunately, the danger seems pretty slight because drying lamps have a very low power output, only around 10 watts. Compare that to the power of a full sized tanning bed that can put out up to 2400 watts! So your fingers probably aren’t in much danger. Still, if you’re concerned you could apply some sunblock before using the lamp.

(Are any of you nail salon owners out there listening? That would be a great way to plus up your service for your customers. Offer them a little sunscreen to moisturize and protect the skin of their fingers while the nail lamp is doing its drying duty.)

But they can still be dangerous

So is there ANY danger associated with using UV drying lamps? Yes, in fact, you might be in danger of getting ripped off!

That’s because UV light only works on special, more expensive, topcoats that contain a certain type of acrylic polymer that is cross linked by the light. Some salons try to save money by using a regular top coat before using the drying lamp. The UV light won’t do anything to make that kind of polish dry faster. So whether you use OPI, Sally Hansen, or any other brand, it makes sense to ask what top coat the nail technician is using so you can make sure you’re getting what you pay for!