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UV Gel Systems

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UV gel polishes were introduced in 2012 and revolutionised the industry. The polish was dry by the time the clients left the salon and while the service took slightly longer than the traditional manicure, it lasted two to three weeks. This new product revitalised nail services, as the UV gel polish manicure is an enhanced manicure that improves on the traditional manicure by being immediately dry and lasting longer.

What is in a UV gel polish?

UV gels are a two part system consisting of the gel-like UV gel and a UV lamp. Within the UV gel are a balance of oligomers (short chains of monomers), photo-initiators and catalysts. To create a proper cure the photo-initiators within the gel need to be exposed to UV light for the correct duration and at the correct intensity. This provides the energy for the reaction, and causes the initiators to start the reaction, the speed of which is controlled by the catalysts.

UV gels are carefully formulated and developed so that exposure to the correct amount of UV light under a UV lamp will properly cure the polish in the given time.

Precautions and issues with UV gel polishes

It is essential that every provider of UV gel polish understands the science behind these nail products and the systems, and chooses a good brand that comes with sufficient instruction and education. To perform a safe UV gel manicure, the instructions need to be followed to the letter. Some brands on the market are not supported by good educational content or instruction, which makes them unsafe and possibly result in under-curing of the UV gel. Under-curing results in dangerous levels of unreacted oligomers within the coating that could be released during removal, possibly causing an allergic reaction.

Not every client is appropriate for a UV gel polish manicure or pedicure. It is up to the nail professional to conduct a thorough consultation and advise their client accordingly. The health of the nails is very important – damaged, thin or weak nails are not suitable for UV gel polishes as are any nails that are exhibiting nail conditions such as delamination. Only healthy nails should be worked on!

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