UV Facts & Fiction

UV Facts & Fiction
April 17, 2018 geoff

UV Facts & Fiction

With reports doing the rounds again about the safety of UV Lamps and LED Lights, now is a good time to look at the UV facts and fiction surrounding lights and exposure.

What is UV Light or Radiation?

The visible light we see in a rainbow is made up of the colours red to violet.  Likewise UV light is made up of UVA, UVB & UVC.  All types of UV light fall into the “short wavelength” category, meaning they are invisible to the naked eye.

Though UV can’t be seen, it can still wreak havoc on skin by causing sunburn, premature ageing and damage leading to skin cancers.

It’s all depends on how much exposure you get.

How Much is Too Much UV Light?

The experts suggest that being outside on a sunny day will result in higher exposure than receiving a gel manicure.

Paolo Boffetta, Professor at Icahn School of Medicine in New York is very clear that heavy exposure to UV light does increase the risk for skin cancer, however gel manicures probably aren’t worth worrying about. “Being exposed to such a low dose, for only a few minutes, on only a small percent of the total surface of the body… we don’t have any data on that, because the risk would be so small that it would be almost impossible to detect it,” says Boffetta.

“Being outside on a very sunny day will make a much bigger difference, in terms of the amount of exposure people get compared to this sort of thing,” he adds.

Among those at high risk of getting skin cancer, gel manicure-getters are very low on the list.  Far below those who sunbathe, live in a sunny place or works outdoors.

What’s the difference between a UV Lamp and a LED Light?

There is a fundamental difference between the 2 types of UV light on the market which explains why a LED Light is so much quicker to use than an old style UV Lamp.

UV Lamps

A UV Lamp has a number of fluorescent globes which produce UVA and also some UVB rays when the light is turned on.

Depending on the quality and design of the globes it could also produce some low levels of UVC.

The UVB rays are filtered by a coating inside the globe which allows only UVA rays to pass through to your nail and hand.

What makes UV Lamps popular

  • They are cheap to buy.
  • They will cure any type of gel – IF USED CORRECTLY.

Why you should probably upgrade and get rid of your UV Lamp.

  • It takes approx. 4-5 times longer to cure a gel than an LED.
  • The globes need regular replacement (every 3 months) to remain strong enough to properly cure the gel polish. These replacement costs end up being more than an LED Light in the long run.
  • Users regularly forget to replace globes and tend to cure manicures longer to compensate for the deterioration in output. This means more UV exposure for their clients.
  • The quality of the replacement globe is unknown and may reduce performance. Low quality globes may not properly filter UVB.

LED Lights

A LED Light has a bunch of Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) that produce a very narrow and pure band of UVA light and very little if any UVB or UVC.  By design it is inherently much safer than a UV Lamp.

The light emitted is typically stronger which reduces curing times by over 75%.

Why you should look at using an LED Light.

  • They are much quicker than UV lamps, whereby curing is reduced to 30 seconds or less.
  • LED’s last a lifetime and do not deteriorate so the light is always as strong as when new.
  • Each manufacturers gel polish and LED light are matched to produce optimum curing.
  • They are cheaper in the long run compared to a UV Lamp due to the cost of replacing bulbs every 3 months.
  • Quicker curing means less time and therefore cheaper cost per manicure.

Why you might be resisting the purchase of an LED Light.

  • You may have trouble curing some colours from another manufacturer. For instance a CND red may not cure properly under a Jessica LED and vice versa.
  • The up-front cost is reasonably high.

Are LED Lights safer than UV Lamps?

In simple terms the answer is yes.

The design of an LED means that the light they emit is very pure and only a very thin slice of the UVA spectrum is produced.  As an example, if you think of UV light being like the rainbow, an LED only emits one colour whilst a UV Lamp produces the entire rainbow of colours in the UV spectrum.

All this additional spread of UV light produced by a UV Lamp means more UV exposure overall.

What is more, the fluorescent globe in a UV Lamp has a coating on the inside of the globe which filters out any UVB & UVC light being produced.  If the coating deteriorates or is damaged in some way, a UV Lamp could potentially expose you to UVB light which a LED Light will not.

Why do my finger nails heat up sometimes, is the UV light burning me?

No, not at all.  The heat is caused by the chemical reaction of the gel polish during the curing process.

It is NOT an indicator that your nails or skin are being burnt.

Thinner coats will reduce this effect as will pressing down with your finger tips on the base of the light.

Should I apply sunscreen prior to getting a gel manicure?

If you are concerned about exposure to UV radiation, by all means slap on some sunscreen 20 minutes prior and be sun safe whilst having your mani.

Although the risks are minimal and no studies prove UV Lamps or LED Lights are responsible for skin cancer, there is no harm wearing sunscreen. As a bonus, when you walk outside into the sun you will be protected too!

More Reading

If you want to read a bit more about UV and manicures, try these 2 links:

UVA versus UVB Rays – what’s the difference

Are Gel Manicures Going To Give Me Skin Cancer

If you do want to know more or have a question, just drop us an email or message on social media.  We are looking forward to chatting further…

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