23.04.2014
When Antonia Mariconda studies old photos of herself, she finds her eyes drawn to her elegantly manicured hands and nails.'I used to get so many comments about my nails,' says the 36-year-old author and TV presenter.
But the attractive brunette, who lives in the West Midlands with her doctor husband and two young children, is now paying the price for her favourite beauty treat. But there are plenty of women out there - such as Karen Berman, 61A  - who have gel manicures far more regularly.
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This is a private listing and your identity will not be disclosed to anyone except the seller. For Antonia regularly had acrylic nails applied - false nails which come with a white painted tip and are held on to the natural nails by painting acrylic glue on top.
When I was playing with my son the other day, I bashed them by mistake and it hurt soA  much, I wept.
Last year, one in six new beauty start-up companies in the UK were nail salons and, with the average regular manicure costing around A?20, it's big business. Gel manicures - which involve a coloured gel being applied to the nails, hardened under a UV light and then removed with acetone weeks later - are also hugely popular, but could be posing a serious risk to women's health.


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Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. Years of this treatment have caused lasting damage to her nails, which are now jagged, wafer thin, ingrown at the edges and prone to breaking whenever she performs the smallest of household chores.
But more aggressive styles of nail treatment - a long way from the old-fashioned, straightforward file and polish - are leaving women vulnerable to infections, rashes and even skin cancer.
Even the tips, which usually take a bashing because I use the computer a lot, weren't chipped.'But when Antonia returned to the salon to have them replaced, it was a different story. While the trade in gel manicures is booming - because they last up to two weeks without chipping they are beloved of harried mothers andA  busy professionals alike - dermatologists are worried that the use of UV light could be raising the risk of skin cancer. If you reside in an EU member state besides UK, import VAT on this purchase is not recoverable.
I constantly apologise for the way they look and try to keep them hidden.'Antonia has been told it will take at least a year for her weakened nails to recover and they may never be as strong as they once were.
A study in 2009 found two middle-aged women with no family history of skin cancer, and only moderate exposure to sunlight, developed tumours on their hands following exposure to UV nail lights. The separated mother of two, who lives with her daughters in Blackburn, watched in horror as her nails were filed right down to the nail bed.'By the time I realised what was going on, the damage had been done. It's all down to the newer breed ofA  high-tech manicures, which have fuelled a boom in the numbers of nail bars across the country.


Currently, there is no legal requirement to be licensed as a manicurist and no qualifications are needed. As she quickly discovered, it could only be removed by sanding it off her nails.'They said they needed to file the surface of my nails down so the new acrylics would go on better. Anyone at all can pick up a nail file and start advertising for clients.It's a worryingly lax state of affairs - particularly if Antonia's experience is anything to go by.
She first started going to a nail bar near her home a few years ago, popping in every couple of weeks.
Her problems began when she was persuaded by her manicurist that her nails wouldA  look better for longer if she tried acrylic tips. Eventually, unable to take the agony of the filing any more, Antonia decided to go au naturel. But when they were removed for good, she discovered that the nails left under the acrylic coating were paper thin, painful and sensitive.



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