What makes them so long lasting is the polish that contains polymers that harden when exposed to ultraviolet light. The same UV light that's used in the tanning beds that have been linked to skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. Which raises the question of whether the nail lights might also pose a skin cancer risk.
Dermatologist Dr. Chris Adigun said, "In a study that was analyzing the strength of these lamps and comparing them with tanning beds, the conclusion was the actual risk of inducing skin cancer by using these lamps is actually quite low. It's not zero, but it's quite low."
While there have been rare reports of skin cancer in women who got gel manicures, it's impossible to say the UV lights caused it. The actual risk depends on how often someone gets a gel manicure but even frequent users are likely at very low risk.
What the UV light is more likely to do is cause premature aging, wrinkling and spotting of your hands.
According to Dr. Adigun, the bigger problem with gel manicuresis the chemicals that are in the polish and what it takes to remove the long lasting polish.
"Which can induce certain types of contact dermatitis or allergy, allergic contact dermatitis in people, as well as the dryness that can happen from the removal process and exposure to the acetone. That can be very problematic," said Dr. Adigun.
So what do you do if you want to be really safe? Doctors say get a pair of UV blocking gloves and cut off the fingertips, or lay a towel over your hands. You can also apply sunscreen to your hands before going under the UV lights.