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Seven Secrets to Properly Curing UV Gels Nails


There’s a big difference between “cure” and “properly cure” and often it’s the difference

between success and failure. UV curing artificial nails may be “under cured”, “over

cured” or “properly cured”.


Anything other than a proper cure may result in service

break down and/or an increase potential for adverse skin reactions, such as irritation or

allergy. UV (ultraviolet) light has been used for more than 30 years to cure UV curing

artificial nail coatings. UV nail lamps produce the safest part of the UVA spectrum

where it overlaps with visible light to cure these nail coatings. Although you may have

already known this if you regularly perform these types of nail services but, you may not

have realized that UV energy has a difficult time penetrating UV curing nail coatings. Or

that plain, every day “oxygen” in the air can cause special problems.

More will be revealed as you explore the Seven Secrets below.


Secret 1- The “light” that cures UV gels is invisible to the human eye.

The UVA nail bulbs create energy in a part of the spectrum the eye can’t see. Some

birds and butterflies can see UVA, but people can’t. UVA nail bulbs create both visible

light and invisible energy. Light is the energy our eye can see. Since UVA energy is

invisible, it isn’t considered to be “light”. The visible blue glow doesn’t cure the UV nail

gel; instead this curing is done by the invisible UVA energy. These UVA bulbs used in

UV nail lamps emit very low levels of UV and are consider to be safer than similar

exposure to natural sunlight. Clients do not need to worry about UV overexposure,

especially because their hands are only exposed for short periods of time. UV nail

lamps have a long history of safe use and there are several scientific studies to show

they are safe as used in nail salons.

Curing UV Gels Nails

Secret 2- UVA light is strongly absorbed by UV gels.

UVA light is strongly absorbed by UV nail gels. So much so, that the top layers absorb

the majority of the UVA before it can penetrate very deep into the gel layer. This can

lead to under curing problems. The upper layers act like an umbrella to shield the

lower layers, making it more difficult to properly cure thicker layers of UV gel. This

explains why UV cure gels nail coating needs to be applied in thinner layers to ensure

proper cure.

Curing UV Gels Nails

Secret 3- UVA curing can’t compete with oxygen.

Oxygen in the air prevents the UV gel molecules in the top most layer from linking

together to create hard polymers, so that part remains sticky, gooey and only partially

cured. Underneath this sticky “inhibition layer” there is little oxygen, so UVA energy

can cure the UV gel into a durable artificial nail, as long as it isn’t applied too thickly!

Curing UV Gels Nails

Secret 4- Don’t judge a UV bulb/lamp by its “wattage”.

UVA “intensity” is very important to proper curing. Intensity determines how much UVA

is available for curing. Without sufficient intensity of the correct UVA wavelengths for a

sufficient length of time these UV nail gel products can’t properly cure. The formulation

of a UV gel determines necessary intensity and wavelength required, as well as the

correct exposure time needed for proper curing. It is very important to understand that

UVA light intensity is completely different from “wattage.” Wattage measures how much

electricity a UV bulb will consume; higher watt bulbs use more electricity. That’s all!

Proper curing does NOT depend on “wattage.” Don't be fooled into judging a UV nail

lamp by the wattage of the UV light bulbs. Never buy a UV nail lamp because of its

wattage. Use only the UV nail lamp recommended by the manufacturer of the UV gel.

Always remember: the wattage of a bulb will remain the same, but UVA light “intensity”

slowly degrades every time a UVA bulb is turned on.

Curing UV Gels Nails

Secret 5- UV bulbs MUST be changed regularly.

After a few months of regular use the bulbs in UV nail lamps may no longer properly

cure an artificial nail coating. How often should you replace them? Generally, after

about 2-4 months of regular use the entire set of UV bulbs should be changed. You

should also consider replacing them if clients’ nails begin to show signs of unusual

service break down or anything else that might suggest under curing, e.g. unusual


Also, carefully clean nail dust from the UV bulbs whenever needed, e.g. once per week.

Dirty bulbs have a lower UV intensity, especially those coated with gobs of hardened

UV gel. Once coated with cured UV nail product, the bulb can be flipped over and the

clean side of the bulb may be used.

Curing UV Gels Nails

Secret 6- UV gels can be under-cured.

All UV gels solidify after they reach 50-55% cure and at this point they are still “under

cured”. Just because a nail coating has hardened and looks “cured”, it doesn’t mean it

is “properly cured”. Under-cured UV gel nails will be prone to staining, discoloration,

lifting, breakage and an increased risk for clients to develop skin sensitivities. For

example, if a client complains of nail beds that feel “warm” hours after the service or

underneath the nail plate feels “itchy” or if the nail plate is partially separated from the

nail bed, these are all possible signs of a developing skin allergy. Dusts from under

cured UV nail coatings or roll-off from filing the sticky surface layers are more likely to

cause skin allergy when skin is repeatedly exposed. Avoid direct skin contact with both!

Other signs of under curing may be small voids or air pockets underneath the artificial

nail coating that indicate pockets where adhesion has been lost. Or a loss of clarity or a

cloudy nail, thicker than normal sticky surface layer. Also watch for dull, soft surfaces or

areas where the coating was too easily wiped or filed away.

Curing UV Gels Nails

Secret 7- UV gels can be over-cured

More isn't always better! Using too higher of an intensity UVA nail lamp can over cure

UV gels designed for use with lower intensity lamps. This can happen when UV curing

nail product designed for use with traditional UV nail lamps are cured with LED style UV

nail lamps. In this case the UV nail coating would be exposed to excessive UVA which

can cause the UV gel to cure too rapidly and over heat. This can lead to serious burns

to the client’s nail beds and service break down.

To ensure proper curing of UV nail gels it is VERY important to always use the UV nail

lamp that was designed specifically for the UV gel product of your choice and

recommended by the manufacturer and to cure as directed. It’s NOT a marketing

gimmick when manufacturers say you MUST use their UV nail lamp to properly cure

their UV gels. This is based on scientific fact.

Curing UV Gels Nails

Now you can appreciate the vast difference between “cure” and “proper cure”. If UV gel

nails aren’t properly cured, the results could range from lifting to cracking to air pockets

to allergic reactions and more. Of course, your clients need not worry because you’ve

read and reread the Seven Secrets. Please use this knowledge wisely and prosper.

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