Wednesday, 6 April 2011

UV Nail Lamps - Should you be concerned??

The recent media scare involving UV nail lamps has people talking, but what are the facts? 

I found this article on the subject to be very informative -

Diamond Nails? Crystal Nails? What Are You Really Getting?

Standard Nail Service Terms

These are terms that apply to the most common nail enhancement services.

Acrylic - A liquid and powder that is mixed and applied with a brush.  The product hardens in about two minutes on its own, without any UV lamps.
Gel - In basic terms, gel is a pre-mixed nail enhancement in a gel-like state.  Gels are usually odorless and almost always require curing in a UV lamp.
Wraps - Wraps are thin pieces of material (usually silk, fiberglass or linen) that are adhered to nails to help increase their strength and durability.  Wraps are usually applied with resin, glue, and activator, and sometimes a combination of glue and acrylic.
Acrylic Dips - This is when resin is applied to the nail and then acrylic powder is either sprinkled over it or the client's nail is dipped into powder.  An activator can also be used to speed up the hardening process. 
Fill - A required maintenance for any enhancement, where the grown-out nail (at the cuticle) is "filled in," to re-finish or "re-balance" the entire nail enhancement look. 

All of the above systems can be applied in the following ways:
  • Directly onto the nail (overlay).
  • On tips that have been applied with resin (glue) or acrylic.
  • Sculpted using a paper, plastic, or metal nail form.
In addition, all of the about types of services can be finished with a UV gel top coat to protect the enhancement.  The UV coating is applied similar to polish and then cured under a UV lamp.  UV top coats are protective to the enhancement and will need to be filed off at the next appointment.

Misleading Service Names

You may hear about the following services.  These are typically regular services with clever titles to convince the customer that the services is unique and worth more money.  The most common ones are:

Solar Nails - Solar Nails is a brand of acrylic manufactured by CND.  It is one of their original brands and is a true acrylic and nothing more. 
Gel Nails - A service termed "gel nails" is most often an actual and legitimate gel application, with gel and a UV lamp.  But sometimes a service is called gel nails, when in fact it is a standard acrylic application with an added UV gel top coat at the end.  You can spot this misnomer by noticing if there is any liquid and powder involved during any step of the service (which means that acrylic is being used).  Also, notice how many times you were asked to place your hand under a UV lamp - if it's only once, it's probably a gel top coat and not actual gel nails. 
Porcelain Nails - Nothing more than acrylic or gels, possibly with a UV gel top coat.  Porcelain is no longer used on nails, as it once was during the '70s and early '80s, but some clients still use the term.
Diamond Nails - Diamond nails are acrylics.  The claim is that they are "more expensive" because they are had like diamonds, but they aren't any different than regular acrylic nails.
Crystal Nails - Any type of nail enhancement done with clear acrylic, gel or resin with clear tips or sculpted with a form. 

The above service names are most frequently used as ploys to charge more for 'enhanced' enhancements.  It doesn't mean that there aren't truly unique enhancements out there, and that they may legitimately cost more, but it's important to be informed and ask question so you know exactly what type of enhancement you are getting.  A lot of techs will use jazzed up names to help differentiate their salon from the competition, and there's nothing wrong with that, but don't be afraid to inquire as to exactly what the enhancement is so you can accurately compare services and prices throughout different salons.