Note from Holly: Have you been wondering what exactly these LED light things are that everyone is talking about all of a sudden and how they differ from a UV lamp like we have become used to? I have been getting asked lots of questions about them and wanted to be sure I had scientific answers that were easy to understand. Anytime I need a combination of those two, Doug Schoon comes to mind so here is a guest blog from Doug with the 411. Hope this helps clear up your questions like it did mine!
LED is not a type of light -- it's a type of light bulb. LED stands for "light emitting diode". This type of light bulb was developed back in the 1960s and is now being widely used for many purposes. LED bulbs can be customized to glow brightly in a wide variety of colors, including red, green, yellow, blue, and violet. Some types emit infrared light, while those used in the nail industry emit light in the UV-A region.
There are many different types of LED nail lamps and most produce different wavelengths of light as well as different intensities of each wavelength. It is a myth that LED lamps can be used with any artificial nail product. The facts are they should only be used with the products that were specifically designed for use with that type of LED nail lamp. It is very important to understand that these lamps are NOT interchangeable between systems and using the incorrect LED nail lamp can lead to service breakdown and may even harm client's nails.
For example, using the wrong lamp may lead to "under curing" the artificial nail, which can result in a weak artificial nail, increased service breakdown and increased potential for clients to develop adverse skin reactions, e.g. skin allergy. Or conversely, the wrong lamp may "over cure" the product, which can cause brittleness, discoloration and heat spikes that can damage the nail bed and cause it to separate from the nail plate (onycholysis).
Because LED nail lamps vary significantly in their UV-A energy output, as well as wavelength, nail products must be specifically designed for use with a specific type of LED nail lamp. Therefore, because of these differences manufacturers can't develop UV nail products that work properly with any nail lamp. To achieve the best product performance, it's important to use the correct lamp, which is the lamp recommended by the manufacturer of the artificial nail enhancement product or other nail coatings. If you're in doubt, contact the product manufacturer for more information before proceeding on your own.
Finally, just as traditional UV-A blubs age, LED bulbs also age with repeated use. When these lamps are used regularly in the salon setting, the LED bulbs can be expected to last up to 3-4 years before UV output drops significantly. Eventually the entire UV lamp must be discarded and replaced, since the LED bulbs cannot be replaced.