Does Shellac -- the two-week nail polish -- live up to the hype and is it a health risk?

CLEVELAND - Magazine inserts, store fronts, and daily deal sites are advertising the latest beauty trend -- Shellac. It promises to stay chip-free for two weeks, but the process is under scrutiny from dermatologists.

"How much is vanity worth? Is it worth getting skin cancer?" MetroHealth Dermatologist Johnathan Bass, M.D. asked.

Shellac is a polish by Creative Nail Design , or CND. It's painted on like regular nail polish, except that it's hardened under a UV light.

At Luv's Salon in Westlake, the total hardening time for all the layers of polish is seven minutes.

"I'm really not that concerned about it," client Jean Sweeney said.

She's a nurse practitioner and is excited to try a polish that is supposed to last 14 days.

That was also the consensus of the 10 women who tested the product for our NewsChannel5 investigation.

"I think you just don't think about it. When you think about the sun you think about your face. You think about your body. You don't think about your hands," tester Shari Snyder said.

EXTRA: Watch what our testers had to say about Shellac at 3 p.m. on newsnet5.com and on your mobile device

Dermatologists raise concerns
Shellac is not the only type of polish or nail product that requires drying time under a UV light. However, with Shellac's rise in popularity, there is discussion in the medical community about the cancer concerns associated with UV lights. It's a concern that's being dismissed by Creative Nail Design, the company that makes Shellac.

In the medical journal, " Archives of Dermatology," doctors wrote about two women who got skin cancer on their hand, even though they had no family history of the disease. The article stated that the women visited nail salons and received UV nail light exposure to dry the nail polish.

According to the article, one woman had a 15-year history of twice monthly UV nail light exposure while the other woman had exposure eight times in one year before developing skin cancer.

"It's a mini sun tan power to your fingers," Bass said.

CND said UV nail lamps are safe
Creative Nail Design disagreed and said an independent study showed UV nail lamps are safe. In a news release the company said, "Recent reports fail to properly measure UV light rays, overestimate exposure from UV nail lamps and incorrectly attribute skin cancer."

CND said the study showed the amount of UV-B light in 10 minutes of exposure to a nail lamp is the same as spending an 30 extra seconds in the sun every day for the two weeks between salon appointments.

The company also said Rapid Precision Testing Laboratories believes the CND UV Nail Lamp is safe.

According to CND, Robert M. Sayre, Ph.D. said, "Our conclusion is that this UV source properly belongs in the least risky of all categories."

The company said your hands get more UV light from driving your car than you do from Shellac.

Dermatologist agrees more studies are needed
Bass questioned the studies.

"They're interests are not necessarily objective. I would say those who have published on this are not physicians. They're not dermatologists," he said.

Bass agreed more research is needed adding that skin cancer takes years to surface.

"The nail salon UV light is sort of a newer factor that's thrown into the mix. We don't have a of lot of time right now to understand the impact that this will be. This is a relatively new phenomenon and if you're adding that component into normal ambient sun exposure over one's lifetime I have little question you are increasing the risk," Bass said.

Some women we spoke with said they're adding sunscreen to their hands before getting their nails done just to add another layer of protection. Doctors said make sure it's added an hour before your appointment, and that you add a generous layer to your hand and nails.

Shellac put to the test
Despite the cancer claims by both sides, many women still want Shellac.

"Shellac will be here for awhile. A long while," Licensed Cosmetology Instructor Barbara Brussee said. "I look for this to grow even bigger."

Brussee has been an instructor for 36 years and currently teaches at InterState Beauty School. She said there are big profits to be made with Shellac. The materials to do Shellac are expensive with the small bottles of polish costing $16.

"It is very lucrative for the nail tech," Brussee said.

For consumers, Shellac costs around $30. The price is more than a manicure, but consumers said it's worth it if it lasts two weeks as promised.

"Application is paramount to get the polish to stay on," Brussee said.

In our test, we had 10 women visit five salons. We had the women test French Manicures and colored Shellac. The testers reported different application methods, and our results varied.

Plus, our hidden camera investigation shows some salons advertised Shellac but use a different product. Even though all our testers asked for Shellac, they didn't always get the service they paid for.

How can you make sure you get what you paid for? Watch NewsChannel5 at

11 p.m. to see how to get the most bang for your buck.

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Join the discussion about this story on Twitter by using the hashtag #WEWSnails . Connect with Jenn Strathman on Twitter ( @JennStrathman ) & Facebook ( facebook.com/JennStrathman ).

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