I often reminisce of the many rich lessons my grandmother taught me growing up and reflecting them in my writings. Even on her deathbed those in her midst could not help but join in the laughter and lighthearted conversations she was known for. The conversations I remember most during this time were the jovial laughs and references to her well-manicured hands and feet. See, the day before she died she had had her weekly manicure and pedicure but, this time she had added a rhinestone to the already bright and shiny ruby red fingernail polish. Her toes sparkled almost as bright as her personality with laughter and wit at every turn. With gel polish all the rage, I have to wonder what humor my grandmother would find today about nail polish lasting two to three weeks.
The two-week manicure seems all the rage among women I know—and why not, celebrities like Penelope Cruz and Jessica Alba are lining up for their appointments. Whether you like neon yellow, hot pink, metallic silver, or classic red, everyone seems to love the lasting power of the gel manicure. The benefits of this chip resistant polish are it is quick drying, long lasting and obviously a time saver. However, these benefits may come with a higher price to pay besides the increased dollars to upgrade the polish.
The lights used to cure the polish are just as damaging as the UV light we are trying to avoid. These lights are like tiny tanning beds that can cause discoloration, spots, wrinkles, thin skin, and skin cancer. Studies are already showing a correlation between an increase in skin cancer and the increase in popularity of these types of manicures. These UV lights may accelerate the drying time of your nails, but they also speed up the signs of aging on your hands.
I am not advocating avoiding gel polishes or not indulging yourself in a good manicure. I am advocating going prepared to your next salon appointment with the tools and knowledge to protect your health and keeping your hands as youthful looking as possible. I recommend slathering on a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher before your hands go under the UV lights. Using a sunscreen that incorporates anti-aging benefits will not only protect your skin, but will also improve their appearance. Your nails need a breather from polish to stay healthy and strong so give them a break now and again.
So before you get your nails all lacquered up, remember there is more to beautiful hands than just the nails. Do yourself a favor and treat your hands to a truly luxurious spa treatment by applying sunscreen with anti-aging properties. Not only will your hands be healthier and younger looking longer—you will also be reducing your risk of skin cancer. Indulge yourself with beautiful nails—so doll them up bright and enjoy your life!
Howard Baker, RN BSN
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