Nail cosmetics: a dermatological perspective

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2019 Aug;44(6):599-605. doi: 10.1111/ced.13929. Epub 2019 Feb 21.


Nail cosmetics are used by millions worldwide and the variety of products available is expanding. They are relatively safe, but complications can occur, and patients experiencing complications may present to dermatologists. The physical processes can cause nail thinning and onycholysis, poor technique can promote infection, and consumers may develop allergic contact dermatitis. Ultraviolet nail lamps are widely used for curing gel nails, but their use is unregulated and they are readily accessible in salons or for home use. There is concern about potential carcinogenesis; however, the risk is negligible and can be further reduced with the use of sunscreen. Despite the potential complications, nail cosmetics may be a useful adjunct in treating nail disorders. Familiarity with the procedures will enable the dermatologist to recognize problems and advise on safe use.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acrylates / adverse effects
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Methacrylates / adverse effects
  • Nail Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Nail Diseases / pathology
  • Nails / pathology*
  • Onycholysis / etiology
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Acrylates
  • Cosmetics
  • Methacrylates