There are different ways of building gel nails and consumers need to know the difference between methods. It is believed that Gel Nails enhancements can be only built with uv gel products, where UV stands for ultraviolet light. In other words gel nails can only be cured under an UV gel lamp which act as a catalyst in order for the chemical reaction to take place. On the market, however, there other methods to build gel nails. In this page we will try to discuss the issue and make it clear... as much as possible.
Clients have to take into consideration that different salons use different products that not always behave in the same way, depending on their chemical ratio and composition. As clients have a fair idea about the brand of jeans they like to wear they should have a fair idea about what brand of gel the technician will apply to their nails. Said that, our best advice is: try different brand until you find the right one, but in order to do so always ask at the salon which gel brand they are using.
On the market clients can find:
- UV Gel enhancements
- Powder gel enhancements
- A combination of the above
- Bio gel as in Bio sculpture gel
The Gel Myth
Gels are often sold as being 'not acrylic', but in fact are based on both the methacrylates and the acrylates family. Polymerizing monomers with UV or visible light is not very efficient as it is difficult to get the UV light deep into the gel. If gels were made entirely of monomers, most of the gel would not turn into a polymer. One way to improve efficiency is to pre-join some of the monomers into short chains. These short chains are neither monomers or polymers -- they are in between: oligomers. Oligomers make it easier to create polymers. An oligomer is a single chain that is several thousand monomers long. Joining a few hundred oligomers is much faster than joining a million individual monomers.
Why are gels so thick? Nail enhancement monomers are liquids and polymers are solids, so it makes sense that oligomers are in between. This is why gels are 'gel-like' inconsistency. Now you can understand one of the disadvantages of most gel systems. They are more difficult to use because of their heavy consistency and their tendency to be stringy. On the positive side, the thicker consistency reduces evaporation and odor.
Some initiators use heat energy and others use light. It is easy to keep light away from gels so the initiator, catalyst, and oligomers can be combined together into a single product. This is possibly one of gel's greatest advantages. They come premixed and ready to use. Still, no system is perfect. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Curing with UV or visible light is more convenient, but raises special problems that must be addressed. Since initiators are activated by light, they must penetrate completely through the gel to polymerize all of the oligomers. Unfortunately, this does not occur. Thick coatings of gel allow less light to reach the bottom layers. In Europe where gels are used extensively, they attempt to overcome this with powerful UV lights. these systems use 38-40 watts of UV light. American systems tend to be far lower, usually 8 watts. UV bulbs emit only UV-A, so there is little danger. However, the high-wattage lamps are far more expensive and can cause problems as well. Remember, when polymers cure too quickly, they release large amounts of heat in a short period of time. This can cause serious and damaging burns to the nail beds.
UV Gel Nails Enhancements
In a few words, gel nails are an extremely natural-looking enhancement: clear, flexible, thin, generally non-yellowing (unless the product is not top quality). Gel can be used for natural nail overlays, tip overlays, and sculpted onto forms for short extensions, as it would be done with acrylic.
Gel is commonly called "UV gel" (in correct chemical terms a polymer resin) hardens under ultraviolet light. Depending on brand, these can show a broader variety of quality and properties (flexibility, strength, etc.) but may be more expensive. They generally cannot be removed by organic solvents, but only be removed by filing (or left to grow out with the natural nail).
Powder Gel Enhancements
This type of gel uses two methods: a thin layer of gel (oligomer) is applied to the nail and the it is sprinkled with powder. The powder, being a monomer combined with the oligomer of the gel consistency brushed product in order to form polymers and therefore hard the enhancement. This system has tried to resolve one of the problems with gel: its difficulty to be cured with UV light that are not powerful enough. (See explanation above). This kind of gel does not necessarily needs UV curing, However on the market there are 'powder gels' that can be cured under natural light. Some other system instead use liquid and powder.
Bio Gel puff!
As said above, gels are based on both the methacrylates and the acrylates family, which are products of the chemical industry. Those chemicals are not biological element present in nature. Bio gel are a creation of the marketing industry to fool the consumer. However, like any other kind of gel, a lot depends on the quality of the product applied on clients nails. Some bio gel, very much like some UV gel, present problems with peeling and yellowing. It is just a matter to try them.
Benefits of Gel Nails
At one stage it was believed that gel nails would have been the future of the nail industry! According to some sources it is possible to estimate that in Europe gel represent well over 50% of the market. However, in United States is probably much less. One reason is due to the fact that Acrylic is cheaper and more flexible under the point of view of nail artists. No other service can give clients both a natural nails look and feel combined with the convenience and durability of acrylic nails. It is believed that gel nails would be healthier that acrylic.
Which one? Acrylic or Gel Nails?
Acrylics used to be stronger than gel nails, but that has changed a real lot over the past few years. Nowadays, a high quality UV nail gel product's line is usually every bit as strong as acrylics are. Thus, gel nails are just as durable as their counterparts, acrylic nails, when top quality gels are used. The cheap gels are pretty much the same as cheap acrylic products in that neither stands up very well with regards to durability, and both will yellow over time. In addition, some very expensive gel yellow over time. The use of high quality products for either acrylic, or gel nails makes a lot of difference in the strength, the look and feel of the finished nails, and also do not yellow like the cheap ones do. Anyway, acrylic nails are the good old standard of nail enhancements. It seems like everywhere you go, salons are doing nothing but acrylic nails. That is slowly changing. More and more salons are offering UV gel nails to their customers. Some salons are 'gel only' and do not offer acrylic nails. Some good points about gel nails are - as I mentioned already, their strength and durability. They are also non-yellowing when good products are used. Gel nails are also non-toxic, are odorless, and are more realistic than acrylic nails are. Gel nails also feel more realistic too and are 'lightweight' meaning you cannot really tell you are wearing 'fake' nails. It is true that you can go a bit longer between fills, though not all that much longer - maybe a week or so longer than you would for acrylics. However, that also depends on the skill level of the tech who applies them. If they are applied correctly, they will not lift. This in turn means getting fills less often. If they aren't applied correctly, or if you are prone to lifting no matter what, then you will need fills more often. Typically, for acrylic nails, a fill every 2 weeks is normal.
Gel nails are not harmful to your nails, nor are acrylic nails. An unskilled tech can create problems like thinning of the natural nails happens in the first place. An experienced and highly skilled technician who uses the best quality products will not let this happen to you.
The Alternative to Acrylic and Gel: Prescription Nails
Twice as fast as traditional method, superior quality and durability, absence of fumes and dust, healthier nail plates and spectacular results, are the virtues of this revolutionary product. Prescription Nails is a technological innovation for the nail therapy. Prescription nails are carefully designed for your nail shape and curvature.
The technician will precisely measure and record on a client's personal prescription card your nails curvature and arch. The nails are perfectly fitted to the client's nail shape and size: the result is nail enhancements that have natural look and feel.
- No re fills are required
- They are soaked off every visit and a new set put on
- Non-damaging sanding & buffing
- No electric file need to be used
- Each set lasts for up to 2-4 weeks
- Great for nail biters and those concerned about protecting the natural nail bed.