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TERMS & Technology: GEL-SYSTEMS
TERMS & Technology: GEL-SYSTEMS

Did you know that both traditional acrylic and gel nail systems can be found in the same family tree of nails? Yes, that's right! Acrylate is the source of both systems. Both systems have monomers and require energy to produce a chemical reaction. These enhancement products are similar, despite the fact that their chemistry is very different.

LET'S BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT THE MYTHS

Acrylics can be classified as Chemicals. Gels cannot.

This myth stemmed probably from the fact acrylic liquids release an odor while gels do not. The evaporation rate for a particular ingredient is directly linked to monomer's odor (vapor created by evaporation gives off the odor). Gels have no evaporation rate so there is no odor. Both Acrylic as well as Gels are Chemicals.

Acrylic chemicals are not found in gel products

The truth is quite the opposite. Acrylate, which is the main ingredient in both of these products, is part the acrylic word. Both of them are, in FACT, acrylic. Acrylic powders and gels can be referred as Methacrylate.

In the mid 80's gels were introduced to nail industry. Their goal was to create a stronger and more durable enhancement than acrylic. They also had a shiny, hard finish. These gels are lighter because of their tight molecular structure. These gels are resistant to solvents and don't absorb water.

WHAT ARE OLIGOMERS

Oligomers, which are short chains of monomer preformed in short forms, make up the chemistry and chemistry of gels. These monomers are already linked together to make these chains. These monomers are already pre-mixed for you, so you don't need to worry too much about the mix ratio. This makes it easier to cure with an LED or ultraviolet lamp, as opposed to traditional acrylics which can take up to 48 hour to harden fully.

PHOTO INITIATORS

Photo Initiators use UV and LED lighting to produce the free radicals necessary for curing. In general, the faster a cure is, the more PIs you have in a given formula. Heat spikes can often be created during curing. The PI's create heat by hardening and creating energy.

Technicians must apply gel in thin layers. They should do multiple layers to achieve the desired enhancement. Noting that thick layers can block light from reaching the bottom layers of gel, which results in product degradation and service breakdown.

NSI scientists responsible for formulating these products face two of the most challenging tasks: determining the right photo initiators to use and the appropriate amount. These are the three most important aspects of UV and LED curing.

* An appropriate balance between the photo initiators, nail lamp, and the light source.

* The intensity and spectrum of UV/LED light.

* The time of light exposure.

TERMINOLOGY

Oligomer- The backbone for gel chemistry is urethaneacrylate oligomer. It's a chain of monomers that is pre-formed and short. The urethane-acrylate oligomers provide superior toughness, scratch resistance and durability in light-cured materials. They are the base of gel and play an important role in the gel's working characteristics, as well as how they are removed.

Gel Powder – In simple terms, it's acrylic powder mixed with a resin-based dip system. This is how dip systems are advertised by some manufacturers to make it sound like a "healthy" alternative for gel polish.

UV/LED Gels – An oligomer-based product for nail care that needs UV/LED energy to cure. They allow technicians unlimited work time before being cured in a UV/LED lamps. They are strong and durable and can be used to perform almost any type of service including tip and overlay, natural nail overlay, and sculpting on a form. They are not able to withstand solvents so must be filed away.

Hard Gels are a term that refers to a traditional gel enhancer that is solvent-resistant. Hard may indicate that the gel is non-porous and needs to be filed off in order to be removed. These gels can be used to sculpt and come in many viscosities, which are different thicknesses. The hard gels can't be soaked off. They must be filed off.

Soft Gels or Removable Gels: These gels can be used to replace traditional hard gels. The characteristics of removable gels are the same as traditional hard gels. They can also be soaked in Acetone to get rid of them. You shouldn't be misled by the term "removable", or "soft" to think that they are weak. Some removable gels can even be used for sculpting enhancements.

Gel Polish is a light, thin, and light-cured gel system that offers a more durable alternative to traditional nail polish. Gel polishes can only be used for protection and strength to the natural nail, but they are not able to be used for shaping. Gel Polishes tend not to

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