In November, 2008, athat claimed that UV Nail Lamps caused cancer. In this study two healthy women with no family history of skin cancer developed melanoma after repeated use of nail salon UV lamps. Of course, the internet grabbed on to this story and ran with it. The problem is, the study was faulty. First of all, the sample size was 2 people. Two. Both who live in Texas - which, if you don’t know, is a very sunny southern state in the US. The study also made faulty conclusions based on the UV output of tanning beds, which are significantly stronger than the UV output of nail lamps and they assumed the UV-A energy exposure from nail lamps would fall within the estimated range determined to be potentially carcinogenic.
Since then, at least three additional studies have been completed, all coming to the conclusion that UV Nail lamps are indeed safe.
The Lighting Sciences study in 2010 concluded that “UV-B output is less than what occurs in natural sunlight and is equal to what a person could expect from spending an extra 17 to 26 seconds in sunlight each day during the two weeks between nail salon appointments” and “UV-A exposure is equivalent to spending an extra 1.5 to 2.7 minutes in sunlight each day between salon visits, depending on the type of UV nail lamp used.”
In December, 2012, The Massachusetts General Hospital /Alpert Medical School at Brown University study concluded that "Nail lamps are safe for over 250 years of weekly manicures, and even then there would be a low risk of skin cancer”. They also concluded that “Although some sources of UVA and UVB contribute to the development of KCs [keratinocyte carcinoma], UV nail lamps do not appear to significantly increase the lifetime risk of KC. Dermatologists and primary-care physicians may reassure patients regarding the safety of these devices.”
Testing by Sayre and Dowdy in July 2013 found that found that UV nail lights were even safer than expected. “All of the various UV nail lamps submitted for evaluation were found to be significantly less hazardous than might have been anticipated based on the initial concerns raised…” They also confirmed that UV nail lamps are NOT equivalent to tanning beds or indoor tanning lamps, largely because nail lamps use vastly different types of UV bulbs which produce different ranges of wavelengths with significantly lower intensities.
In addition, “The study demonstrates that UV exposure is so low that a worker could put their hand under a UV nail lamp from this study for 25 minutes each day without exceeding established internationally accepted safe limits or ‘permissible daily exposures’.”
In numerous interviews and research, Dr. Sayre has stated that the use of UV nail lamps does not contribute to the risk of getting skin cancer and that the emissions from UV nail lamps are safer than that of natural sunlight.
In 2013, The Skin Cancer Foundation put out an official statement that “even the most intense of these devices presents only a moderate UV risk – a far lower risk than that presented by UV tanning devices”. Of course, to play it safe, they still recommend sunscreen, as they do with any UV exposure.
So, in conclusion, UV lamps are completely safe. There is no evidence that these lamps cause cancer and there has never been a cancer case proven to have come from these lamps in the 30+ years they have been in use. You may wish to mitigate risk by wearing sunscreen if desired.