The use of UV light cured gels in nail care has revolutionised the application of nail extensions and extended the life and durability of coloured nail polish finishes to weeks, something which was unimaginable just a few years ago.
UV light, specifically UVA light, is used in the curing process of nail gels. The UVA light produced by a UV lamp penetrates the gel and causes a chemical reaction involving molecules called photo-initiators. Photo-initiators are key components of gel nail products, as they absorb the UV light and initiate the curing process. When exposed to UVA light, these photo-initiators break down into reactive molecules, which then trigger a chain reaction known as polymerization.
Polymerization is the process in which small molecules called monomers join together to form larger, more complex structures known as polymers with covalent bonds between them. The formation of these covalent bonds leads to a process called cross-linking, in which individual polymer chains are connected, creating a three-dimensional network. This creates the strength, durability, and flexibility characteristics of cured gel nail products. Cross-linking ensures that the gel nail product is resistant to chipping, peeling, and wear, resulting in a long-lasting and professional-looking finish.
There are several factors that can influence the efficacy of the curing process, including the intensity of the UV light, the distance between the light source and the nail, the thickness of the gel layer, and the specific formulation of the gel nail product. It's crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions to ensure proper curing and optimal results. It is also important to note that many UV Gel products should only be applied by a professional. Uncured gel or creepage of the gel on to the skin around the nail can cause adverse reactions and lasting skin irritation and allergic reactions.
Understanding the science behind UV light curing of nail gels highlights the importance of using the correct equipment and following the recommended procedures. By optimizing the curing process, nail care professionals and enthusiasts alike can achieve long-lasting, durable, and attractive nail extensions and enhancements that stand the test of time.