If you’re enthusiastic about nail art, or perhaps you’re very interested in your beauty regime, you’re probably familiar with the UV nail lamp, even if it’s not something you use very often.
These lamps are used to cure gel and acrylic nails, but can they also give you a tan, too?
How does our skin tan?
Before we start to find out about whether or not we can get a tan from just a simple nail lamp, it’s useful for us to first know and understand exactly how our skin tans.
This will allow us to understand why a nail lamp may or may not tan the skin, and it’s some interesting information to know for the next time you’re tanning in the Sun!
In regular circumstances, such as when you’re sunbathing, your body is exposed to the rays emitted by the Sun, namely UVA and UVB rays, which both penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere and reach our skin.
The two types of UV rays interact differently with the skin, but the UVA rays are the ones responsible for suntanning.
When the UVA rays reach the surface of the skin, they penetrate the lower layers of the epidermis (the upper layer of the skin as a whole), and this triggers melanocytes, which are found beneath the epidermis to produce melanin.
Melanocytes are small structures in the skin and the melanin they produce is a natural pigment found in our bodies that is responsible for the color of our skin and hair.
When the melanin production is triggered, it gradually causes the skin to turn darker as more melanin is created, and we are left with a suntan.
Naturally, this response from the melanocytes in the skin is one of our body’s defenses against UV rays, and it’s there to reduce the risk of sunburn, which protects the skin from sun damage a little more.
Can you get a tan from a UV nail lamp?
If you’ve ever been to a nail salon to have gel or acrylic nails applied, or even done so yourself, at home, you would have most likely used either a UV lamp or LED lamp to cure the polish to make it strong and solid, as gel and acrylic nails don’t dry naturally like regular polish.
Some of these nail lamps, as we just said, emit LED light to cure the nails, while others emit UV rays instead, as it’s a faster and more efficient method than LED.
As you can probably guess, the UV lamp does emit UVA rays, which are the ones responsible for tanning, and these rays are also emitted by an LED lamp, too.
In theory, these UVA rays would be responsible for tanning your skin, as that’s exactly how they function but they generally won’t cause a suntan, as the exposure to them isn’t for long enough.
If you’re suntanning on the beach for the day, you’ll probably notice that your skin tone won’t change by three foundation shades all at once, and it takes lots of time to gradually build up a tan.
The same concept applies in this situation, and your skin just doesn’t spend enough time underneath the UV lamp for your to trigger any significant melanin production and notice a change in your skin color.
At the most, you may spend around 4 minutes with your hands beneath the lamp, and that’s almost nothing, and certainly won’t make any difference.
Even if you go to a salon regularly, and have your nails topped up or infilled every three weeks, you still won’t notice a difference as the space in time between each session underneath the nail lamp is too long, and your skin cells will have almost fully renewed by this stage, as the skin cells usually take around a month to completely replace themselves.
As you can see, your hands won’t develop a suntan just by being exposed to the UV light that comes from a nail lamp.
While, in theory, this would be possible, they don’t spend enough time there, and so your skin won’t react to the UVA rays.
If you want to get a natural suntan, just spend some time outside whilst staying well-protected and using plenty of SPF all over!