UV lamps explained - (why any old lamp just won’t do!). UPDATED September 2019

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Haircutz

Super Moderator
Staff member
#1
Copied from a previous post written by @BobSweden
An excellent, clear and comprehensive explanation.


UV LAMPS EXPLAINED
Chemists recommend that you use the UV lamp supplied by the gel manufacturer. If you don't, there is a risk of heat spikes or there is also a greater risk that you can develop an allergy.

Light has two components - wavelength which gives us different colours and brightness.

With UV lamps, there are two main wavelengths - 365 nanometers which cures older gels, and 405 nanometers which cures gel polishes and newer LED-UV gels.

Each UV lamp produces a different level of brightness - what has the scientific name of "UV Illuminance". That's because there is no industry standard, and because the brightness is affected by the type of light generation device used, how far this device is to the nails (brightness decreases with distance light using a torch outside), and also the quality of the reflectors.

The Wattage i.e. 36W, has no real meaning of brightness. Watts indicate the amount of electricity used.

So if you test the brightness of 10 different 36W UV or LED-UV lamps, the brightness of all will be different. In the same way that 10 different 1000cc car engines produce different amounts of power and use different amounts of petrol.

GEL CHEMISTRY IS COMPLICATED
If that is not complicated enough, different gels use different types and amounts of photoinitiator chemical. This is the chemical in the gel or gel polish that makes the product hard (polymerised) with UV light.

An analogy would be trying to bake bread with an unknown amount of yeast, in an oven whose temperature you can't control.

So when a chemist develops a new gel, they make this compatible with the UV lamp that the company sells. They test that the gel cures correctly and they will also measure the amount of exothermic heat produced during curing. If necessary they can reduce the amount of photoinitiator to make the gel curing cooler - but this will affect other features of the gel too.

If the company later wants to introduce a new UV lamp, it must have the same wavelength(s) and brightness as the original UV lamp, or all of the gels and gel polishes will have to be reformulated.

The cost and time to test all gels and gel polishes, is why serious brands only offer one type of UV lamp.

RISK OF ALLERGIES
Now if you use a UV lamp that doesn't cure the gel correctly and the gel is under cured, that will produce under-cured gel dust when you file. This is now thought to be the #1 cause of nail product allergies - by experts such as the British Association of Dermatologists and other scientists.

This, and people using different brands of gels and gel polishes in unmatched UV lamps, are though to also be the reason why the number of reported allergies has increased dramatically the past years.

If someone gets a nail product allergy, it is for life. In addition, because similar acrylates are used in dentistry and some bone surgery, this can make some health treatments very difficult.



(Image courtesy of NAILS magazine)

Edited to add additional source of information:

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45129280
 
Last edited:

NailtechJoe

IN:@thenailmaestro
#2
Now if you use a UV lamp that doesn't cure the gel correctly and the gel is under cured, that will produce under-cured gel dust when you file. This is now thought to be the #1 cause of nail product allergies - by experts such as the British Association of Dermatologists and other scientists.
I would also add the issue when soaking off uncured gel with acetone.

Uncured gel soaked off in acetone will also cause sensitivity issues and many people believe it is the acetone when acetone is safe to use.

There is a podcast in the BBC about DIY gel home kits here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08j99fm#playt=0h00m54s
 

NailLAB85

New Member
#3
What a fantastic post! Thankyou for sharing!
 

House Beauty

Well-Known Member
#4
Thank you for sharing, this is fascinating. Good to have a proper explanation for all those clients that like the old bluesky off eBay at home!
 

Annemarie

CND Grand Master tech
#5
What about the companies that don’t sell lamps with their gel polish brand, but advise on what lamp to buy?
 

BobSweden

Managing Director
#6
To ensure that a specific UV lamp correctly cures a gel or gel polish, requires testing by a chemist in a laboratory. There are three different tests that can be done - it is the chemists personal preference which they use. But all require specialist equipment.

A company that can afford to hire a chemist and develop unique products, probably has the resources to make such a test. They can also afford to supply a UV lamp.

A company that private labels its products from a factory, has no access to a chemist or laboratory, probably doesn't do this.

There is an old myth in the industry that many brands, educators and NT still believe. That if you put a blob of gel on a form and cure it, remove it from the form and the underside is not sticky - then the UV lamp has correctly cured the gel.

This is false. Gels are hard enough to file when only 50% to 55% cured. The ONLY way to know if a UV lamp correctly cured the gel, is in a lab.

Hence one of the potential reasons for the big increase in allergies - many UV lamps sold are not fully curing the gels and gel polishes.
 

#7
Copied from a previous post written by @BobSweden
An excellent, clear and comprehensive explanation.


UV LAMPS EXPLAINED
Chemists recommend that you use the UV lamp supplied by the gel manufacturer. If you don't, there is a risk of heat spikes or there is also a greater risk that you can develop an allergy.

Light has two components - wavelength which gives us different colours and brightness.

With UV lamps, there are two main wavelengths - 365 nanometers which cures older gels, and 405 nanometers which cures gel polishes and newer LED-UV gels.

Each UV lamp produces a different level of brightness - what has the scientific name of "UV Illuminance". That's because there is no industry standard, and because the brightness is affected by the type of light generation device used, how far this device is to the nails (brightness decreases with distance light using a torch outside), and also the quality of the reflectors.

The Wattage i.e. 36W, has no real meaning of brightness. Watts indicate the amount of electricity used.

So if you test the brightness of 10 different 36W UV or LED-UV lamps, the brightness of all will be different. In the same way that 10 different 1000cc car engines produce different amounts of power and use different amounts of petrol.

GEL CHEMISTRY IS COMPLICATED
If that is not complicated enough, different gels use different types and amounts of photoinitiator chemical. This is the chemical in the gel or gel polish that makes the product hard (polymerised) with UV light.

An analogy would be trying to bake bread with an unknown amount of yeast, in an oven whose temperature you can't control.

So when a chemist develops a new gel, they make this compatible with the UV lamp that the company sells. They test that the gel cures correctly and they will also measure the amount of exothermic heat produced during curing. If necessary they can reduce the amount of photoinitiator to make the gel curing cooler - but this will affect other features of the gel too.

If the company later wants to introduce a new UV lamp, it must have the same wavelength(s) and brightness as the original UV lamp, or all of the gels and gel polishes will have to be reformulated.

The cost and time to test all gels and gel polishes, is why serious brands only offer one type of UV lamp.

RISK OF ALLERGIES
Now if you use a UV lamp that doesn't cure the gel correctly and the gel is under cured, that will produce under-cured gel dust when you file. This is now thought to be the #1 cause of nail product allergies - by experts such as the British Association of Dermatologists and other scientists.

This, and people using different brands of gels and gel polishes in unmatched UV lamps, are though to also be the reason why the number of reported allergies has increased dramatically the past years.

If someone gets a nail product allergy, it is for life. In addition, because similar acrylates are used in dentistry and some bone surgery, this can make some health treatments very difficult.



(Image courtesy of NAILS magazine)
I have been doing some research into lamps as am currently looking to expand my range of gel polishes to include more brands. As a result I have had to contact many gel polish brands directly to seek clarification on the lamp issue. The gel bottle have confirmed on their website that any lamp that is 48w or higher will cure their polish. Entity beaity confirmed by email that any UV lamp 36w or Led lamp 42w or higher will cure their gel polishes and
Ibd have confirmed that off any decent led lamp can be used to cure their polishes. As these brands dont currently actively market any lamp of their own, using another brand of lamp is more people's only option.
 

#8
Thank you for this post. A lot of useful information. :)
 

Holly Byers

Karma and love
#9
This is a great thread, could anyone advise a lamp they have really been happy with
As he's I will get one for the brand I use but I do find I'm trying it diffrent brands and would like a lamp that I can feel will genuinely help me with curing all (I use on top of acrylics for a finish)
As I'm about to buy a new one but would love some feed back!
️ And who to buy from as I'm having problems getting it shipped to Spain
 

Holly Byers

Karma and love
#10
No updates on lamps?
 

Trinity

Brush Slayer Geek
#11

Beautiful-you

Well-Known Member
#12
This is a great thread, could anyone advise a lamp they have really been happy with
As he's I will get one for the brand I use but I do find I'm trying it diffrent brands and would like a lamp that I can feel will genuinely help me with curing all (I use on top of acrylics for a finish)
As I'm about to buy a new one but would love some feed back!
️ And who to buy from as I'm having problems getting it shipped to Spain
The advice I have read regarding trialling a new brand (from a trustworthy source) is to double cure, but this is not a long term recommendation, purely to enable you to make a decision as to whether you are happy with the products.

Your insurance provider will more than likely state that you should follow manufacturers recommendations regarding the lamp, so if that brand has their own specific lamp then you would be expected to use that (unless they state in writing that the one you use is also suitable). As it's an expensive process testing lamps in a lab, it's unlikely they will have done this with other lamps.
 

#13
I came to conclusion that I will continue using gel polishes made in Ukraine, Russia etc as they are universal and made to be cured in any kind of lamp (asked brand technologists of all brands I know). Also certified brands, just dont cost a fortune.
 

Haircutz

Super Moderator
Staff member
#14
I came to conclusion that I will continue using gel polishes made in Ukraine, Russia etc as they are universal and made to be cured in any kind of lamp (asked brand technologists of all brands I know). Also certified brands, just dont cost a fortune.
There isn’t a universal gel because quite clearly, no lamp will cure every brand. Sadly, you’re just fooling yourself and your clients.
 
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