The Science of Gels

What’s really going on when your client puts her hand in the nail lamp? We explain what gel is made of and why it works so well.

Do UV Lamps Cause Cancer?

In short, a reputable scientific study conducted by an independent lighting laboratory says no — UV lamps do not cause skin cancer. In this study, done by Lighting Science and published by Doug Schoon (CND), Paul Bryson (OPI), and Jim McConnell (Light Elegance), the results showed that the amount of UV-B to which client skin is exposed to is equal to what they could expect from spending an extra 17 to 26 seconds in sunlight each day of the two weeks in between nail appointments.

Fo more informationm on this study, visit

A “Universal” Gel Light?

One of the most common questions we get is: Is there a universal gel light that will cure all gels — UV and LED and from any manufacturer? The short answer is no. The longer answer is that there are simply too many variables you’d have to account for. Not only do the number and the placement of the bulbs in UV lamps differ (which affects the UV-A light that reaches the gel), but even how much electrictical power goes to the bulbs affects the curing power.

Using one lamp for all products is risky because you run the risk of under- or over-curing. You may not even realize the gel is under-cured (it will look hard on top well before it’s actually done fully curing), so you could unknowingly be exposing the client to uncured product, which can cause adverse skin reactions. Also, the resulting enhancement will not be as durable as it would be if cured in the correct wavelength. Over-curing a gel can lead to discoloration,  shrinkage, lifting, and excessive bubbles. The tool used to measure the curing power of a gel light is a spectrophotometer, but the starting price of an accurate one is about $5,000 — so at that price point, you’d be better off just buying the correct lamp for the correct gel instead.

The good news is, like any new technology, gel nail lights (and the gels themselves) are improving in leaps and bounds, and the prices for the lights will continue to come down.

Next page: Behind-the-Scenes of Gel Application

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