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Understanding LED & UV Lights

Differences Between UV & LED

LED Lights

LED (Light Emitting Diode) technology is relatively new to the nail industry as a way to cure gels. With LED nail lamps, you never need new bulbs. They stay good for “life”. Just as a comparison, an LED lamp would cost you the same as our full hand UV nail lamp PLUS 5 ½ years worth of replacement bulbs. Depending on how long the lamp lasts, it could potentially be a money saver.

Understanding LED Band Waves

Here is something to consider; All light is categorized by its different band of wavelengths. UV and LED function on different but contiguous bands; UV-A on a broad band spans from 315 nm to 400 nm. The wavelength on LED gel lights is much narrower band of 400 nm to 410 nm. This ­narrow wavelength emits the right amount of the specific UV-A wavelength that’s needed to cure LED-curable gels, which is why LED-curable gels cure faster in LED lights than in UV/CFL gel lights.

Most of the ultraviolet light emitted by gel lamps (whether they’re marketed as UV lamps or UV-LED lamps) is Ultraviolet-A (UV-A), which is safer for humans than Ultraviolet-B (UV-B). The bulbs used in UV nail lights contain special internal filters that remove almost all UV-B.

Photo-initiators (used to cure gel nail products) are most effective at a specific bandwidth. Because of the different bands of wavelength, the same chemistry that photo-cures in UV may not work with LED.
Different photo-initiators may be needed in a gel to cure in a UV lamp versus an LED lamp. If you have a gel that you are currently curing in a UV lamp, it does not mean it will cure in an LED lamp. Contact the lamp manufacturer to find out if your LED nail lamp will work with your light-cured products.

UV Lights

Not all UV lamps are created equal.  They may look the same and be the same size, but there are differences.   All gel products are specifically formulated to work with the UV lamp designed specifically for that gel system.

Understanding Ultra Violet Energy

In the light spectrum, humans see red to violet.  Infrared and ultraviolet are invisible to the human eye.

The Visible Spectrum

Ultraviolet Light is invisible and has three bands of energy.  All three bands are found in sunlight:

1. UVA:  Type used to cure gels, and the safest

2. UVB:  Exposure damaging to skin

3. UVC:  Exposure damaging to skin

• Gels are activated by light.
• The lamp may change the recommended curing time for the gel.
• Curing time depends on the products chemistry.
If a lamps UV output is too high, it can burn the nails, causing brittleness and discoloration.
If the gels are under cured, there might be signs of bubbles, curling, lifting,  and excessive flexibility.

What is a watt?
Wattage is a measure of power.  The power per unit of area in the proper part of the UV spectrum is what is important.
NSI UV lamps have been optimized for this purpose:
• Four (9-watt bulbs strategically placed) ultra high efficiency bulbs.
• Not all 9-watt bulbs give off the same, if any UV light energy.
• Shape of bulb will also make a difference in the amount of UV energy output.
Wattage is how much power the bulb will consume.
• New 4-watt UV bulb might produce more UV output than a used 9-watt.
Remember, using the correct level of photo initiators with the proper UV energy output is crucial to preventing service breakdown, and allergic reactions!

Under Curing
The major cause of service breakdown with any gel system is that the gel has not sufficiently cured.  This can be caused by the lamp not giving off enough UV energy or the wrong lamp for that particular system.
Another reason is not changing the bulbs frequently.  A UV lamp can operate for several years with the light shining.  This does not mean it is actually working, as bulbs do not necessarily burn out, just loose their ability to give off UV.
Remember, UV light energy is invisible to the human eye and bulbs need to be replaced every three to six months.  It is also important to use the UV lamp designed for that particular UV gel system.


- Replaceable CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs). These should be changed every 3-6 months depending on usage.

- LED (Light Emitting Diodes). These bulbs will last for the life of the lamp (no need for routine replacement).

- Slightly heavier in weight and bulkier in size (although our full hand UV lamp is significantly lighter than many competitor's UV lamps).

- Small and lightweight.

- Requires more energy (110-V AC)

- More energy efficient (about 12-V DC)

- Effective for relatively all light-cured nail products on the market today.

- May not cure gels formulated for UV technology.
- Longer cure times (typically 60-120 seconds). - Shorter cure times (range from 10-30 seconds)

- Acquiring a high quality UV Lamp can be done very cost-effectively.

- LED Lamps are still much more expensive than their UV counterparts.

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