Gel Lamps, do you know yours?
With so many suppliers out there the nail industry can be a daunting world. With products evolving and new nail systems being released almost daily, it is very tempting to buy into these shiny new brands.
If you are looking into a new brand the chances are the brand will retail their own LED/UV lamp too.
When buying into a new system the lamp can be costly, this stops a lot of professionals from purchasing that brands lamp. Instead they will use their new gel products with the lamp they already have from a previous brand.
Although using another brands lamp is done openly within our industry and they appear to work fine, there are a few facts and risks that must be considered first.
Understanding the process of gel products during application will show why having the correct equipment is so important
When we apply gel products they are in a semi-solid form, this is made up of monomers and oligomers. Once the monomers and oligomers are exposed to UV-A light they become a solid form, known as polymers.
This process has many names, but most commonly known as curing, but the technical term is polymerization.
As the UV-A light is absorbed by the top layers of the gel products, the monomers and oligomers move around and ‘link’ together. This connection is what makes the gel products harden into a solid form, the gels have now polymerised. This is what are clients will see as ‘dry’ nails.
Each system has its own, unique requirements to make this process happen, correctly and safely!
If you are using a different brand lamp to the brand of your gels, you should check the guidelines for the product’s ideal wavelength range. If the lamp emits wavelengths that are either to high or too low for your gel products, then you are likely to experience side effects.
The wavelength of the UV-A light emitted from our lamps is measured in Nano Meters (NM), this is a measurement of the lamp’s strength. It is incorrectly believed that a lamps wattage is the curing strength, it is in fact the electrical output, the amount of electric that is pulled from the power point to power the bulbs.
For the lamps to work the light must be absorbed by the gels photoinitiators, this is what allows for chemical reaction that is polymerization. The lamp will need to emit the correct spectrum of light to activate the photoinitiators within the products.
If the lamp you are using is wrong, then your nail enhancements will either over cure or under cure. The gels may appear to be cured, yourself and your client may not notice but it could in fact just be the top layers that received enough UV-A. Resulting in ‘raw’ product underneath.
In this case your client will be exposed to uncured product, which over time, can result in over exposure and an allergy to the products. The gels may also lift or wrinkle.
Should the gel over cure, or if the wavelengths are too strong for the products, then the polymerization process will happen too quickly. This will be when our clients may experience a heat spike, this is caused by the movement of the chemicals during the polymerisation, also known as an exothermic reaction. This will be uncomfortable for the clients, should the client have damaged or thin nail plates their nerve endings will be closer to the products resulting in a higher sensitivity, a heat spike can also be very painful for these clients.
If the lamp is too powerful for the gel products and they are cured too quickly then they can become brittle and run the risk of chipping. The products would have hardened too quickly and too much, resulting in no flexibility within the products.
What are the correct requirements?!
Gel polishes curing requirements range any where from 340NM – 405NM but after a lot of research, the majority of brands require 365NM for their products to cure correctly. You will need to check with the brands you use if you wish to know where on the scale your products will sit.
Other deciding factors
The wavelength of the lamp is the biggest element when offering a successful nail treatment but there are still other important factors to take into consideration.
Let’s say you have found out that the lamp you already have emits UV-A at 365 Nano Metres, just as your gel products require, that is great. But……..what about the distance in which the products need to be from the light source?
This may seem like a minor factor but if the distance from the nails and the bulbs is doubled then the energy is lessened by a massive 75%, This would be catastrophic to your nail services.
Another factor to consider is the timings. It is standard procedure to know the curing time for your products, for example, each coat requires 30 seconds within an LED lamp. If you use a lamp that is too strong for the gels the curing time will be less, if the lamp is too weak then the time will need to be increased.
When a company produces their own products and a lamp to match, the lamp has been tested and manufactured to:
- Emit the correct wavelengths
- Have the bulbs positioned in the correct distance from the nails
- Have timers to match the products requirements
This will ensure correct curing of the products, safely and effectively.
With all of these factors it is clear to see there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to nail lamps. Although there are ways and means to ensure your lamp works best with your products. You should always factor in all these elements, something may seem minor, but it could have a massive impact on the services that you provide.
I hope this article has outlined the importance of meeting the unique requirements of your products. If you are ever unsure of these requirements, then contact the manufacture who will be able to give you all the information you need.
This article was originally written for The Pro Beauty Loft Magazine, I did a lot of research in preparation and it was alarming to find that most of the brands could not tell me the answers for their products requirements. This is definitely an issue that has been over looked through out the industry.
You can find other articles here
Please note all images are subject to copyright