'It is not safe' - skin cancer surgeon wants gel and UV lamp manicures banned

A New Zealand skin cancer surgeon says gel and UV light nail manicures should be banned and studies need to be done in Australasia to show people that they're unsafe.

A nail stylist, however, says the UV light used is perfectly fine to use. Source: Seven Sharp

Dr Maria Reeves was speaking on Seven Sharp, which reported using UV lamps for gel manicures became a multi-billion dollar industry within a couple of years, but the safety of the treatments is in contention.

Dr Reeves said she would advise people against the gell, or shellac manicure, "because nobody has proved to me yet that it's safe".

"The evidence now is showing me the opposite - it is not safe." 

There's currently no proven link between the nail lamps and skin cancer in New Zealand.

They've been available here less than a decade, and Dr Reeves' concern is that we will see the damage turning into cancers down the track.

She said there's evidence outside New Zealand of "a type of skin cancer coming out because of shellac". 

Reports relied on by the nail industry claim the UVA light lamps are safer than the sun , while other research states the UV nail lamps can cause DNA damage.

If I genuinely believed that this posed a risk to my clients, I wouldn't offer it as a service - Serenity Fox, nail technician

"We need to do studies in New Zealand and Australia to show the people, our people, that this actually causes problems," Dr Reeves said.

Nail technician Serenity Fox says she would never put her clients at risk.

"UVA light is perfectly safe. I don't want to say perfectly safe but you'd have to be sitting under a lamp for about six hours in order to get the equivalent of 10 minutes in the sun," Ms Fox said.

"If I genuinely believed that this posed a risk to my clients, I wouldn't offer it as a service," she said, adding that there's enough research to give her confidence to provide the service.

Ms Fox said if the treatment led to skin cancers ,"I would have expected to have some sort of throw back consequences myself from being exposed to all these products and lights".

The industry's advice states that if a client expresses anxiety a technician could cover the hands or offer broad-spectrum sunscreen. 

The Skin Cancer Foundation's advice is that the client apply their own broad spectrum sunscreen half an hour before the treatment so it has time to soak in.