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Could UV Dryers Be as Bad for Skin Cells as Tanning Beds?

— March 9, 2023

UV dryers have been shown to lead to rapid skin cell death.

The average person is exposed to many chemicals in their daily lives, especially due to consumer products, highly processed foods, and lifestyle choices like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. One of these chemicals is ultraviolet light. It’s a type of electromagnetic radiation and is often used at nail salons and in tanning beds. UV light has become so commonplace, many don’t think it poses any risk.

In fact, while there has been research involving tanning beds, until recently, not much was known about the effects of being exposed to UV nail dyers used in salons. However, new study has shown the more time the skin is exposed to UV dryers, the more skin cells die. A twenty-minute exposure leads to 20 to 30 percent of the cells dying, while a sixty-minute exposure leads to 65 to 70 percent of them dying! This means nail dryers are associated with rapid cell death.

The study luckily didn’t find evidence of cancer cells, but it’s concerning how the skin cells are being damaged so quickly by a relatively small device that everyone seems to assume is safe. All it takes is twenty minutes and one-fourth of one’s cells are dead! For those who regularly get their nails professionally done or who have opted to purchase an at-home UV dryer, the risk of developing cancer could be substantial.

Could UV Dryers Be as Bad for Skin Cells as Tanning Beds?
Photo by THIS IS ZUN from Pexels

Skin cancer is quite common and is considered to be a highly curable form of the disease. Risks for developing this type of cancer include having fair skin, moles, and a family history of skin cancer, as well as excessive UV light exposure. Most commonly, ultraviolet light is used in tanning beds and, thus, there has been a wealth of research on cancer risk from salon tanning.

There are three common types of skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, which is a slow-growing cancer that generally develops on skin frequently exposed to the sun like the head, shoulders, or face. A patient with SCC has a high chance of surviving provided it is caught early. Basal cell carcinoma is another slow-growing cancer, but this one is thought to be caused to long-term exposure to UV light. As long as it is caught early, chances of surviving are also high.

The more deadly and fastest-growing skin cancer is melanoma. It’s not the most common and is evident in changes to an existing mole or a new pigmented spot on the skin. Anyone who regularly visits, or who used to visit, tanning beds should have a yearly exam by a dermatologist to determine whether there have been any concerning changes to the skin, particularly if they are fair-complected (which many salon tanners are).

Experts are currently insisting that UV dryers are safe to use. However, only time will tell whether research will prove otherwise. Again, the rapid rate of cell death is certainly concerning.

The best way to protect against the risks associated with UV light is to apply a UVA/UVB sunscreen before being exposed. Those who get regular gel manicures can apply this to the skin and allow it to absorb before heading into their appointment. For those who swear by tanning beds, opting instead for temporary tanning creams or spray tanning will reduce this risk.


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