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I've read that nail-salon workers are at risk of serious health problems. Are weekly customers in danger, too?

September 04, 2015

I've read that nail-salon workers are at risk of serious health problems. Are weekly customers in danger, too?

More and more research, as well as anecdotal evidence, suggests that cosmetologists—salon workers ranging from manicurists to hairdressers—are in fact more prone to developing respiratory issues and skin ailments than the general population. They also have higher rates of certain cancers. These health effects are partially due to the chemicals that various products may contain.

Scary, right? That said, the danger posed to a nail-salon worker breathing in fumes every day is much greater than the risk to a weekly customer. But it never hurts to take precautions. For instance, you can bring your own polishes. Get ones labeled "three-free" or "five-free," which means they're made without three or five of the potentially harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde and toluene. Three good brands to try: Zoya, Tenoverten, and RGB.

Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is Health's medical editor, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and co-founder of Tula Skincare.

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