Reliable drying in seconds, best application properties and resistant nail colors – UV/LED light devices are used in nail design to cure modern, popular UV/LED products quickly and safely. Some of these customer favorites include UV gels , UV nail polish and Shellac . The combination of these products with the UV/LED lights ensures long-lasting nail designs - brilliant colors without scratches that appear flawless on the nails for weeks are possible. A particular advantage of UV/LED products: They have a liquid to creamy consistency in the jar or bottle and are therefore pleasant to apply. Since these do not dry in the air, they are ideal for slower work speeds, for example when applying nail art or making corrections, because these products only harden with the help of the UV/LED light.
8 steps to durable nail modeling: How does curing under UV light work?
From liquid-viscous to solid and durable thanks to UV light - UV products such as gel and nail polish contain so-called photoinitiators that are activated when the high-energy UV light from the lamp arrives. They are the starters of the curing process and break apart to release reactive components. These in turn react with the monomers and oligomers contained in the UV ink. They connect into longer and longer chains and become a network through which the initially liquid paint becomes increasingly viscous. If no further connections are possible, the moving process comes to a stop and “freezes” – the UV product is now hardened. In order to obtain the most perfect color results and properties of the nail design, such as durability, it is important that the linking process is as effective as possible during the short period of UV irradiation by the lamp. It is particularly important to pay attention to the appropriate duration and intensity of the UV lighting, which is specified on each UV product.
- UV products contain photoinitiators
- UV light sets the process in motion
- Photoinitiators release reactive components
- Reaction with the mono- and oligomers
- Chains and networks form
- Liquid product becomes viscous
- The mobility of components is becoming increasingly limited
- Curing has been successfully completed
The perfect UV/LED lamp for nail design: 7 questions for our expert Stefanie
Years of experience in the nail salon make our nail designer Stefanie an expert in the use of UV lights in this area. She works with the light devices every day and tells you how to recognize a good UV/LED lamp and what absolute NO-GOs are for the professional use of UV/LED light devices in nail design .
How often do you use lighting equipment in your studio?
Nail designer Stefanie: “The UV/LED lights are one of my most important pieces of equipment, without which many treatments in the nail salon would not be possible. I actually used the UV/LED lamp at my desk throughout the entire working day – not just for manicures and nail modeling, but also for pedicures.”
What is the most important basis for you for the right UV/LED light in the nail salon?
Nail designer Stefanie: “The first thing for me is that the lamp can be easily integrated into my workplace. Lamps that are too big and clunky take up too much space on my work surface. On the other hand, lights that are too small may not provide enough space and freedom of movement for the customer’s hands, which is why a happy medium is required here.”
What do you look for when buying a UV/LED lamp?
Nail designer Stefanie: “In the studio, the even illumination of the interior of the lamp is particularly important to me, because this is the only way to create even and durable nail designs. So I prefer UV/LED lights that illuminate your entire interior equally. I also attach great importance to easy cleaning, which is why I find removable floors very practical: simply take them out after each customer, clean, disinfect and put them back in, without much effort!”
Which function do you use most often with the UV/LED light?
Nail designer Stefanie: “I love the timer function with which you can easily set the operating time - regardless of whether I am using liquid or solid products, from Shellac to gel, with the timer function I can adjust the lighting duration perfectly to the respective requirements in just a few simple steps. “
What extra do you find particularly interesting about light devices for nail design?
Nail designer Stefanie: "I think a second display, i.e. a digital countdown display for the second timer , is particularly good and I've noticed that my customers are also happy when they can see how many seconds the curing will take."
What are your NO-GOs when it comes to lighting devices?
Nail designer Stefanie: “I find UV/LED lights without a timer function unsuitable for studio use. I also think that the openings of the UV lamps are too small to be a big problem, because customers often accidentally touch the edges when placing their hands, which destroys the nail modeling. For my daily work, I also find uniform lighting, including on the sides of the lamp, particularly important so that the nails cure equally well everywhere. Last but not least, the material is important for a UV/LED lamp that is used professionally because it should be easy to clean and tolerate the use of disinfectants over the long term.”
What tip do you have for using UV/LED lights in the studio?
Nail designer Stefanie: “I personally think regular maintenance is important because it is essential, especially in the commercial sector, that the UV/LED light works perfectly at all times. This means that before every working day and in front of every customer, I check whether the light is really evenly bright, whether all the tubes or lamps are lit, and so on. This is the only way the UV lamp can ensure consistent results.”
Classic UV lamps for nail design
With the discovery of modern nail modeling in the 1950s, new products were continually developed. After the first artificial nails made of acrylic, an innovation was the production of UV gels, which were intended to be suitable for home users. The first nail gels came onto the market in the 1980s, but they didn't initially work particularly well. The interaction of UV products and UV lights was not yet as perfectly coordinated as it is today. It was only in the 90s that UV gels and suitable lamps were produced, for which an exact lighting duration was specified, so that the results finally became durable and flawless. The classic UV lamp became a customer favorite, used both in nail salons and in DIY kits at home. The inexpensive UV lamps are characterized by several long UV lights that ensure even and reliable curing. To this day, many nail designers swear by these tried and tested light curing devices, where the UV tubes can also be easily replaced.
Nail modeling with modern LED lights
The modern LED-UV lights are innovative and comparatively new in nail design and nail modeling . The external shape of the light curing devices has hardly changed, but inside there are LED lamps, for example in the form of a band that runs across the entire “sky” of the interior. This makes it easy to achieve optimal curing from all sides. A particular advantage is the long service life of these innovative LED lamps, which remain low-maintenance even after many hours of use. Furthermore, the LED lamps generate little heat and are therefore often very pleasant for the customer, for example in the summer. They are considered particularly effective and fast - this often shortens the curing times for the individual products.
Nail polish does not belong in the UV/LED lamp
UV/LED lights are not suitable for drying conventional nail polish. These nail designs have to cure in the air in the classic way; this process cannot be accelerated with UV radiation.
How do I properly clean a UV/LED light?
To avoid injuries and infections, the UV/LED light should be cleaned thoroughly after each customer. Quality materials and practical extras, such as removable shelves, make your work much easier. In addition to cleaning and disinfecting, also pay attention to function: Are the plugs and cables OK? Do all tubes shine evenly?
- Remove gel residue
Hardly noticeable gel residue can harden on the edges, on the bottom or on the sides of the lamp. Some of them become very sharp and can cause injury to the next customer. That's why you should check the UV lamp carefully and, if necessary, remove these residues very thoroughly. This is particularly easy if the base of the UV/LED light can be removed.
- Cleaning from the inside
File dust, sweat and unnoticed viruses, fungi and bacteria can be found on the hands and nails and come into direct contact with the lamp when touched. You can clean the inside of the UV/LED light using economical and gentle surface disinfectants. If you can remove the bottom, disinfection will be much easier. Mobile designers can rely on disinfectant wipes that are very easy and straightforward to use.
- External disinfection
The entire UV/LED lamp should also be disinfected from the outside, because certain areas, such as the timer, are regularly touched and thus contaminated. For this reason, high-quality materials are also required for the housing, as they can easily withstand frequent cleaning and disinfection .
How to use the UV light correctly – tips from our nail designer
“I basically start every nail design on the little finger and work my way towards the thumb towards the front of the hand. For products that seem liquid to me, which can be the case with UV nail polish and Shellac as well as warm gel in summer, I harden each individual nail under the UV lamp before I finally harden the entire hand. This means that the product can no longer run and, for example, settle in the nail fold, which can lead to painful feelings of tension. In addition, the nail receives the optimal UV energy and can cure properly, without product runoff from running gels or varnishes - due to its special position on the hand, and therefore also in the UV lamp, this can sometimes become a problem.