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What's the difference between LED Lamps and UV Lamps?

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We get asked this question quite a bit - What's the difference between LED lamps and UV Lamps - and why do you call your lamps LED UV Lamps?

The new generation of LED gel lamps on the market have caused quite a bit of confusion as to the differenced between an LED Lamp and a traditional UV lamp that nail techs have been using for years.  

Lets get one thing clear first - They all emit UV light - This is how a gel polish cures.  Some brands will go to the ends of the earth to avoid the use of the word 'UV' when promoting their polishes or lamps.  I have even spoken to some sales reps from these (very well known) companies who believed their own marketing and were adamant that their lamps aren't UV Lamps. 

The phrase 'UV Lamp' is commonly used to refer to the old tube style UV nail lamps.  These take longer to cure polish and the bulbs also needed to be changed every few months.   They will however cure most of the available Gel polish on the market.

LED Lamp,  LED UV Lamp, LED Gel Lamp - These are all the same thing. They are all UV lamps using LED bulb technology.  LED Lamps will only cure gel polishes that are specifically designed for LED lamps. 


Want to know more about UV Light and how the UV Gel polishes work?  Then read on;

To understand what UV light is you need to know that all light is categorised by its different wavelengths.  Visible light for humans occurs between roughly 400 nanometers (nm.) and 780 nm. Ultraviolet light (UV) occurs from roughly 100 nm. to 400 nm., 

Photoinitiators and Clear Gels - Gels need photoinitiators in them to activate the other molecules and turn the gel into a hard plastic. The “photo” means they are light-activated, and these photoinitiators only become active when exposed to certain light wavelengths. (That’s why they don’t start curing right away in regular sunlight.) So manufacturers try to use photoinitiators that match perfectly with their own lamp’s UV wavelength emmitance.


Are they dangerous?  

The calculated maximum exposure times to achieve erythema (sunburn) for most UV lamps is approximately 75 to 130 minutes respectively, which is well in excess of the time required to cure nail gel.  In other words, if you are curing 3 coats per nail at 60 to 90 seconds each there is nowhere near enough exposure time to cause sunburn or skin damage.  Still don't like to take chances?  You can wear sunscreen on the fingers and hands or even some gloves with the tips cut off.