Gel polish uses UV light to promise shiny, chip free manicure

Doctor recommends sun block, moisturizer before heading to salon

LAKE MARY, Fla. - It goes by the name Shellac or gel polish. It's promises to shiny and slick and lasts for weeks.

The process and time it takes is virtually the same as a regular manicure; the shaping and the cuticle cleaning.

The polish is where the differences come in. In order to set the color the client must place her hands under a UV light.

"Once it goes in the light, it's the light that makes it cure and then we'll clean it off with alcohol which gets rid of all the stickiness," explained Ligia Marin a manicurist at Sheer Bliss in Lake Mary, Fla.

Taking the polish off requires nails being soaked in acetone for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Once that's done, the polish flakes right off.

If soaking your nails in acetone or the exposure to UV light concerns you, Dr. Michael Gutierrez of Mid-Florida Dermatology said he believes the gel polish is actually safer than the acrylic tips we've used for years.

"They're nonporous and they don't leave that gap so it's less likely you're going to get a bacterial or fungal infection so right there it's a step up," said Gutierrez.

As for the UV risk he said, "You could sit on the beach for 10 minutes twice a week and get more sun exposure than you will under a lamp."

Gutierrez recommends using sun block or zinc oxide on your hands before your manicure.

"It will protect your skin and prevent the acetone from drying out your nail bed," said Gutierrez.

The Professional Beauty Association said gel manicures are safe.

"Gels have been used safely for decades.  The latest generation of gels is safer and better than ever, however consumers should understand they are different than traditional nail polish.  Furthermore, independent studies have shown that UV lamps are safe and the equivalent of only a couple of minutes exposure to sunlight.  As always, nail professionals should follow manufacturers' instructions on use.  For more information, visit"  

The cost of the gel manicures runs between $30 to $50. At-home kits are also available at some cosmetic and drug stores. The price for the kits range from $30 to $130.

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