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Earlier this year, a story came out about how Karolina Jasko, Miss Illinois USA, found a black line on her nail, which turned out to be a sign of melanoma due to both heredity and frequent exposure to UVA light from regular gel manicures. Since then, the term “gel manicure” has been synonymous with the words “cancer risk”—swaying many gel aficionados away from the salon. Though the jury is still out on how much gel manicures will increase your risk of skin cancer, read on to get the low-down on everything we know so far and discover tips on how you can protect yourself no matter how great or small the risk may be.

Fact #1: Though there is a small risk of melanoma over prolonged exposure to UVA light, you face a similar risk on a daily basis when exposing your hands to the sun

Yes, UVA lights are considered a small version of a tanning bed, but, unlike indoor tanning, which requires you to “bake” in the bed for about 30 minutes, your nails are not sitting under the light for longer than 30-60 seconds at a time. Your hands face more cancer risk when driving in a car without sunscreen and/or driving gloves.

Fact #2: There are ways to protect yourself

If you aren’t applying sunscreen to your hands multiple times a day, then you are already increasing your risk for melanoma and other types of skin cancers. To minimize the harmful effects of UVA lights during a gel manicure, always apply an SPF before heading to the salon, and, if you’re really concerned, invest in a pair of UV-protectant fingerless gloves.

Try: YouVeeShield Gloves

Fact #3: Take a break every once in a while

While you don’t have to give up gel manicures forever, it’s always a good idea to give your nails a chance to “breathe.” Try getting a gel manicure every other month, then use a gel-like top coat during the rest of the year to give your polish brilliant shine and lasting durability.

Stay tuned for even more nail inspiration and take a peek at these nail trends!