With the rapid growth of gels in the market, many nail techs have found themselves bombarded with questions regarding gel lamp technology. Traditional standard UV lamps are no longer the only - or best - choice for busy nail techs. Couple that with many scare tactics about the safety of standard UV lamps, and it's your job as a nail tech to make sure you and your clients are educated and confident about the services you provide.
So let's start at the beginning.
BY IRENE CHAO
WHAT IS UV LIGHT? All light is categorized by its different band of wavelengths. Visible light for humans occurs between 400 and 780 nanometers (nm) on the Electromagnetic Spectrum. UV (ultraviolet) light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light - it occurs between 100 and 400 nm. UV operates on a broader spectrum, while LED (light-emitting diodes) operates on a narrower band of 400-410 nm.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Photo-initiators (used to cure gel nail products) are most effective at a specific bandwidth. Because of the different band of wavelengths, the same chemistry that photo-cures in UV may not work with LED. This is why it's extremely important to use the recommended lamp for your chosen gel product. Different photo-initiators may be needed in a specific gel to cure in a UV lamp versus an LED lamp.
WHY CHOOSE LED OVER UV? LED lamps cure gels faster. This is great for several reasons. First, your clients' hands aren't subjected to minutes-long exposure under the UV lights, reassuring them about what they "think" is potentially harmful. (It's important to remember that it's been reported by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology that UV lamps do not appear to significantly increase the lifetime risk of skin cancer.) Second, the faster the cure time is, the faster the service is, which is ultimately better for business.
LED lamps typically use less power than standard UV lamps, they're lighter in weight, and one of the coolest selling points - the bulbs last up to 50,000 hours, so you'll never have to replace a bulb again. (Remember with standard UV lamps, you get far fewer hours of functional use out of the bulbs, which normally need to be replaced every two to four months depending on the amount of use.)