Caring for Your Nails

Manicures and pedicures are a great way to stay looking good, but it’s important that the nail polishes and removers that you use are safe, which means using products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Electronic, radiation emitting, products used to dry gel nail polish and artificial nails need to be regulated by the FDA.

The best way to stay safe, and still look good, is to make sure that you read the labels of these products and heed any warnings that may be listed there.

The Ingredients and Warnings on Cosmetic Nail Care Products

The FDA approves a lot of things before they go to market, but nail products and cosmetic ingredients (except for the majority of color additives) do not require approval.

While they do not require approval, they do still need to be safe to use as directed. Please note that nail products used for medical issues do require FDA approval, as they are classified as drugs.

Cosmetic nail products are usually labeled with instructions and warnings that inform consumers how the product should be used correctly. These include some or all of the following:

  • Some nail products are flammable, and should therefore not be exposed to open flames (cigarette lighter) or other sources of heat (curling iron)
  • Some products can injure the eyes, and should therefore be kept clear of the eyes
  • Some products should only be used in areas that are well ventilated
  • Some products are made from ingredients that are harmful if ingested. As such, they should not be consumed by humans or pets

When you order cosmetics online or at a retail store, be aware that the ingredients need to be listed in the order of decreasing amounts. This is worth knowing if you are allergic to certain ingredients, as you can avoid products that contain those items.

An example of such an issue can be found with nail polishes, some of which contain formaldehyde, which can cause an allergic reaction in some users. Allergic reactions are also common when using some types of artificial nails. The FDA website has more information about all the ingredients used in cosmetics.

The simple rule here is that you should always read the labels on cosmetic products and follow all directions. Nails salons should be well ventilated, so look for that when you go for a manicure.

Information About Nail Drying, Curing Lamps, and UV Exposure

UV (ultraviolet) curing lamps are devices used to dry gel nail polish and acrylic gel nails. You can buy your own online and will find them in most nail salons. The lamps use LED lights that emit UV radiation. While you might think that this is the same process used in tanning beds, the two are actually quite different. Tanning beds use sunlamps, and you can find more about their potential risks on the FDA website.

Skin damage can occur when it is exposed to UV radiation, especially if the skin is repeatedly exposed over time. Age spots, wrinkles, and potentially skin cancer can occur.

The FDA believes that nail curing lamps are low risk as long as they are used as directed. A study published back in 2013 showed that 36 minutes of daily exposure, even when using the worst lamp available, fell below the occupational limits for UV radiation. It should be noted that the results are in regard to healthy individuals and not those who have a sensitivity to UV radiation.