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Study finds low UV risk from home nail drying

31 March 2021

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have tested eight ultraviolet (UV) radiation nail polish drying devices to assess their ability to cause skin damage.

The eight devices use artificial UV radiation to dry, harden and cure finger and toenail polish.

All the devices emitted UV with widely varying intensity, however the study found that all eight devices posed a low risk to users when they used the device for the required drying times.

‘We calculated the safe exposure time for each device and found the one with the highest UV radiation was hazardous only after 38 minutes, which would be much longer than needed to adequately dry nail polish as drying times ranged from six seconds to 150 seconds,’ said Dr Elke Hacker, Research Fellow at QUT.

However, the risk may be greater to those who are particularly sensitive to UV. Those with any health concerns may wish to seek further advice. 

‘While the study shows that the risk of skin damage is low, users can opt to wear fingerless gloves and/or sunscreen to protect their hands during the nail polish drying process,’ said Dr Rick Tinker, Director of Assessment and Advice at ARPANSA.

Clear labelling of safe operating conditions and potential hazards of using a UV-emitting nail curing device would be beneficial to consumers.

The study’s UV measurements were conducted by ARPANSA and the findings were published in a Letter to the Editor, Quantifying the ultraviolet radiation emitted by nail curing devices: a descriptive study”, in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology.