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Am I going to get skin cancer from my manicure ?

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The question

All of my friends are getting their nails shellacked and the results are fantastic: They have beautiful nails that don't chip. But I'm wondering how safe it is, since UV lights are used during the drying. Should I steer clear of shellacking or is there any way I can do it safely?

The answer

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There has been a lot of controversy over UV-lamp-cured manicures because of the fear of skin damage and cancer. But let me tell you, the lamps used for this are not the same ones you find in tanning beds, which blast you with tons of UVA and UVB light that does damage over time. Nail salon lamps emit considerably fewer of these rays, so it would take a lot of manis to pose any real risk.

Wearing sunscreen to shield yourself from the UV lamp is a great idea, though; you should be wearing sunscreen every day to protect yourself anyway (being outside for five to 10 minutes unprotected will end up doing more damage than the usual three to five minutes your hands are under a UV lamp for a mani). If you're still nervous, try an LED-lamp mani instead. There is less curing time and you get the same beautifully polished nails that last two weeks or longer. There is an at-home system, SensatioNail, that pays for itself after two or three uses. Bonus: If you do chip a nail, there's no need to run to the salon for a fix.

Bahar Niramwalla is a celebrity makeup artist and beauty expert who has appeared on The Marilyn Denis Show on CTV. Have a beauty question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com.

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