UV- Spectrum of Opportunity

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An In-Depth Look at UV Nail Dryers

In the long past, Egyptians first observed the curing process when certain resins dried to an armor finish under sunshine. Now, UV curing is noted as being a reliable process for many industries including graphic design, engineering, automotive and beauty. As nail salons invest in training and essential supplies like polish systems and UV nail dryers, the demand for gel manicures grows.

As a salon service, the gel manicure has been around for well over 30 years. This beauty application uses a liquid or powder that is adhered to the nail as a coating. Compared to a typical nail polish, the finish hardens quicker and does a better job at resisting chipping. Instead of utilizing the process of evaporation to dry, most gel polish systems require special lamps for curing the polymers.

K Boss, Master Technician at Ultra Violet Nail Lounge located in Atlanta, Ga. explained, “Most gel polish manufacturers sell lamps that are compatible with their products.” Boss learned about UV about five years ago when training under Top Industry Instructors at a beauty conference in Ohio. K Boss likes that, “it doesn’t damage your nails as much as acrylic,” and that, “it cuts down on drying time.”

Fluorescent and LED

UV dryers are divided into two categories, based on bulb type: fluorescent and LED. The latter being the more recent innovation, light emitting diodes (LEDs) are praised for having higher intensity wave spectrums most crucial to curing the gel polish. This equates to less exposure and wait times for drying hands and feet. These fast cure machines can dry in a fraction of the time required by traditional bulbs – 30 seconds and much less in some instances – leaving many professionals to feel LED is the optimal choice.

But, no one lamp will cure all gel polish formulations and not all curable products work under just any set of wavelengths. LED is the newer option, but many formulations require the fluorescent bulbs for proper curing. Traditional lamps that feature fluorescent tubes will need to swap out the lights as they burn out, while complete LED lamps may have to be fully replaced when the longer lasting bulbs eventually expire.

Constant Innovation

As more consumers become inspired by do-it-yourself methods, nail dryers evolve in size, feature and efficiency. And some revolutions like Miracle Gel by Sally Hansen are leading the way in gel nail wear that doesn’t require acetone for removal or lamps for drying. Typical UV dryer highlights include: timer settings, removable parts for cleaning, power voltage and operating modes including fan function.

Smaller, personal dryers have the capability for easy mobility (great for travel) and can emit rays in a range as low as six or eight watts. Some of these modest machines may only dry up to four fingers at a time. Typical wattage numbers are between 12 or 24, or even up to 36 or higher. More costly salon quality dryers can hold two hands or both feet and may boast gigawatt figures. Not to be confused with strength, wattage has more to do with the amount of power that is needed for proper bulb operation.

Safety and the Future

Customers and professionals with a higher regard for health and safety may feel lower wattage is best. However, experts have gone on record stating the bulbs used in the dryers are similar to natural sunlight and sunlamps; less harmful than sun exposure to hands when driving, when used properly. Most dryers limit exposure to UVA rays and possible small amounts of the UVB spectrum.

Still, natural nail enthusiasts like Michelle C., an independent technician specializing in a medical-grade pedicure service, believes that due to factors like UV exposure, damaging soak off methods and the gel product being “technically [an] acrylic that is frequently applied and removed,” in the future, “…the majority of the nail industry will be more geared towards healthy nails, which gel nails are not.”

Skin experts agree the UV exposure is synonymous with a tanning bed, and with frequent exposure can cause photo aging like discoloration and wrinkles. The efficient LED lowers risk of skin spots and damaging, associated with traditional UV dryers. A move for organic polishes and soaking alternatives will give the procedure a boost.

In the meantime, additional products like protective gloves and SPF15+ broad spectrum sunscreen may be sold alongside nail dryers for customer convenience. Additional items like cuticle pushers, nail wipes, nail cleanser, base gel, building gel, leveling gel and alcohol should be stocked nearby as a quick upsell with this merchandise.

In-store selection for UV nail dryers should only be as wide as customer preference. Like any other specialty product, success with sales may be contingent upon the popularity of specific complimentary merchandise like individual gel formulations. The resourceful OTC beauty supplier will consider the top selling gel powder and liquids at your location. You will find more timely success by simply considering what gel products and brands you already rotate regularly with ease and build from them.