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Are UV Nail Lamps Safe?

Posted: September 2, 2010

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To investigate the Internet and media stories and the MacFarlane-Alonso report, the NMC asked Lighting Sciences to test the UV output of two UV nail lamps, one with four 9-watt UV bulbs, and the other with two 9-watt UV bulbs. These two UV nail lamps were selected based on a common spectrum of UV exposure and popularity in nail salons across the country. UV detectors were placed where the customer would place her hands in the lamp. The detectors measured the UV-A and UV-B light emitted from each nail lamp. The same UV detectors were also used to measure the UV-A and UV-B rays found in natural sunlight. The analysis also took into account that a typical client visits a salon twice a month for nail maintenance, resulting in a maximum of 6-10 minutes of UV exposure per visit.

Based on these measurements, the Lighting Sciences data directly challenge the internet and media stories and the suggestions of MacFarlane-Alonso. Schoon explained, "Lighting Sciences found the UV-B output was less than amounts found in natural sunlight. UV nail lamps have internal filters that remove most of the UV-B rays. This minimal UV-B exposure is equal to only 26 seconds of sunlight exposure each day between nail appointments."

Schoon added, "The Lighting Sciences results also showed that the UV-A rays found in nail lamps were low and equal to spending approximately two (2) minutes in the sun each day between appointments. These findings make clear that nail salon clients are more likely to be exposed to UV in day-to-day activities, such as taking a walk or driving a car, than by artificial nail services."

Although not necessary, if nail clients are concerned with UV exposure, a small white cloth can be placed over the hands while using the nail lamp or sunscreen can be applied to the skin (not the nails).

For a complete copy "Do UV Nail Lamps Emit Unsafe Levels of Ultraviolet Light?" by Doug Schoon, Paul Bryson, Ph.D., and Jim McConnell.