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This post won’t go into either side of the argument on whether UV gel lamps are causing long term damage to our skin – harmful or not harmful for regular long term use – but instead accepts that each has valid points: With normal usage a client may not get too much additional UV-A exposure, but may be concerned about the exposure due genetic factors, medications, or other personal reasons; Nail techs oftentimes use UV-cured products to do their own nails, test UV-cured products on themselves, and are incidentally exposed to UV-A rays while doing clients’ nails. Here we’ll discuss several ways to mediate these concerns with some inexpensive and easy solutions.
First, for clients who are interested in protecting their skin for cosmetic reasons, the easiest solution may be a hand lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF), preferably of at least 30, to be applied about 15 minutes before their hands will go in the lamp. While this should not create too much additional work for the nail tech, it may require a shift in the sequence of product application so that the lotion is applied earlier in the service. This will allow ample time for it to soak into the skin. A word of caution: the nail tech should take extra care to be sure the nail plate is properly cleansed and dehydrated before starting the application of product, to prevent service breakdown.
Aside from the UV protection, which may or may not be necessary, I’m moisturizing my skin with the lotion! This is the solution I’ve chosen for myself because it’s the easiest.
For now I’m starting with a sunscreen lotion developed by Neutrogena for use on the face. It seems to be less greasy than other sunscreens I’ve tried, which is a benefit during a nail service.
Second, and possibly an easier solution, is to wear UV protective gloves during the application and curing of the product. There are reusable and disposable versions of these gloves available. (Alternatively, you could simply place a washable towel over the hand during the curing part of the service, but this seems more cumbersome and time-consuming than using anti-UV gloves.)
A combination of the first two solutions may be ideal for a client that is sensitive to UV rays due to a medical condition or a medication they are taking.
The final solution is for fellow nail techs testing products. Rather than test products on yourself, why not use a practice hand or nail more often? While wear testing has to be done personally, simple application practice can be done on nailtrainer® practice hand, plastic practice fingers, and swatch sticks (I buy mine in large quantities from eBay and they’ve been great so far!).
This question has been raised to me by only one client in the last year, but I feel like I need to be ready to accommodate if a client comes into the salon with this concern. And, perhaps more urgently, I need to protect my own skin, as it is perhaps exposed to chemicals and UV rays at a higher rate than the average user. And, if the additional UV ray exposure is not in fact not harmful, then we have been overly cautious with easy solutions – no harm done!
Are you a nail tech with other solutions for this issue? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!