Saturday, April 4, 2015

Nail Salon Air Filter System - Size Matters!

Nail Salon Air Filter System - Size Matters!

I've read a lot of discussions on FB and other forums about which air filter systems to buy for use in the nail salon. 

So I took this photo because I wanted to show that there is a big difference in the size of the actual filters inside different salon filter products.

The photo shows the filter parts of the Swedish filtering system we use in our salons and nail schools. This is the white cotton bag (Filter 1: large dust particles) and the big box (Filter 2: invisible dust particles and Filter 3: The active carbon filter removes chemicals from the air). I put a ruler and a carton of milk next to the big filter to give some scale. 

The small square silver filter is from one of the most popular filter systems sold in the US. This integrated square filter also contains all three different filter stages.

The total weight of this small filter is 20g (about 0.7oz). The weight of only the active carbon in the Swedish filter is 5kg (about 11.1LBS). 

We need to change the Swedish filters after 400 to 600 customers (depends if gel only, acrylic only or mixed services). If a different brand of filter only contains 500g (1LB) of carbon, then it would need to be replaced much more often. This also increases the risk of using full filters that no longer work. It may also increase the lifetime cost of the system when you calculate the cost of all those filters. 

The USA Nail Manufacturers Council (co-chaired by Doug Schoon) recommends that a filtering system contains minimum 2LB (1 kg) of carbon and that this should be at least 2 inches deep (5cm). The Swedish filter exceeds this by approx. 400%. 

So if you are looking for a nail salon air filter system to protect your health, it is the weight and depth of the active carbon filter that distinguishes if a product will work or not.

For more information about air filter design, see our earlier article here:

Why using the correct UV lamp is important for safety and salon service reliability

The graph (supplied by Doug Schoon) shows the UV light output from a traditional UV lamp and a LED UV lamp. Notice the peaks in UV irradiance at different light wavelengths. 

UV irradiance is if you like, the amount of light energy (Watts) that falls on a 1cm x 1cm area. From this we can understand the amount to UV energy that falls onto a finger nail.

The amount of the irradiance is controlled by different factors: the type of UV light device used (different devices from different manufacturers output more or less UV energy), the distance from light device to finger nails, the quality of the lamp reflectors, etc. So depending on which UV lamp is being tested, these peaks will change in height. 

The position of these peaks on the wavelength axis can also change depending on the light device. In this example the traditional UV lamp seems to have a peak at 370 nanometers - but another UV lamp could have it's peak at 360nm or 365nm, etc. Same with the LED UV lamp. 

If you tested 10 different UV lamps the size of the peaks and the peak wavelength would all be different. This is a very important point. 

Now, if we take the UV lamp used for this graph that has a peak at 370nm, and we try to cure a gel that has a photo initiator which operates best at 370nm then both the gel and UV lamp are matched and you will obtain the fastest cure time. But if you use a gel that has a 360nm photo initiator this is going to get approx 80% less UV energy and that would increase the cure time by at least 4 times (it also depends on how much PI is in the gel). 

The problem is that the NT who uses the wrong gel for this UV lamp may not know that the gel is under cured. That's because gels appear hard when only cured at 50% of full cure. It's not possible for the average NT to know if a gel is fully cured without scientific equipment. 

Different gels use different photo initiators and may have more or less of this. There is no standard, just like there is no standard UV lamp design. 

This means that the gel chemist has to either:
a) design the gel to match a UV lamp that the company already has, or 
b) design a UV lamp to match their new gel. 

But the fact is that most manufacturers, even some famous brands, are not developing their own gels. They buy standard products from the catalog of one of the acrylic / gel factories - in other words they are private labellers and not real manufacturers. 

In most cases they are never told, and don't know to ask, what photointiator is used in the gel and what amount of UV energy is needed to correctly cure the gel (and the curing time). That makes it impossible for them to find a matching UV lamp. 

This begs the question of how a private labeller can know that their UV lamp will cure the factory gel, especially when they don't have a laboratory with the required test equipment and a chemist to make the tests. Perhaps some hire an outside laboratory to make the test, but I suspect that many of them stick a glob of gel on a tip, cure it for 2 minutes and see if it looks hard - which as you know now is no kind accurate test. 

So when a supplier says that their UV lamp will cure all gels, ask them how they know what the peak UV irradiance and the peak wavelength required by the photo initiator in your gel is. Without that information, how can they possibly say that their UV lamp will cure your gel?  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

New IKON.iQ Revolution Colour Gels / Gel Paints

New IKON.iQ Revolution Colour Gels / Gel Paints
Why buy two products when one will be enough? That was the thinking when we set out to create the ultimate colour gels. Before we create any new IKON.iQ product we research, research and research. What can we do better? What is missing? How can we improve the users experience? Our goal is to create products which exceed the capabilities of any product of the same type in the market today - we have absolutely no interest in creating "me-too" products.

We talked to our Educators - all expert Nail Technicians, many are competition champions - and we compiled a list of the common features of coloured gels and gel paints:

  • Many coloured gels and gel paints require two layers to get good colour depth
  • Nearly all have a dispersion layer that needs wiping
  • Many coloured gels are rather thick - good for full cover reliability. 
  • Gel paints have lower viscosity making them more suitable for fine detail nail art, but not can be compete on reliability with traditional colour gels
  • Curing times are typically 2 minutes for full cover and 60 seconds using gel paints - when creating a nail art design, that's too long a time to wait between adding new design elements or colours!
  • Few products cure in a LED-UV lamp

So our design goals were set:

  • Must be highly pigmented so that it covers the nail in one gel layer
  • Must not create a dispersion layer - let's save time and money by not wiping!
  • A viscosity that allows the gels to be used as gel paints - one product two uses!
  • 30 seconds cure time in a traditional 36W UV lamp and 15 seconds in a LED-UV lamp - saves up to 10 minutes per customer!  (the price of one gel colour is paid back with the first service!)
  • 3 seconds cure time in a LED-UV lamp when painting nail art - let that creativity flow!

All these design goals were achieved - hence the name IKON.iQ Revolution. These new colour gels are a real revolution - nothing else compares in the market today. This is the future!

All designs below were created only using the IKON.iQ Revolution colour gels.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Nailympia competition - the biggest and best!

Judges: Tom Bachik, Vicki Peters, Iryna Giblett, David Fowler, Stefanie LoRe
and non-judge Bob Giblett

The 10th anniversary of the Nailympia Competition attracted competitors from 32 countries, taking 654 seats across 11 categories. That is a massive increase on 400+ competitors the previous year and makes Nailympia the biggest nail competition in Europe, and far larger than competitions in the USA. 

For information about Nailympia 2015, see here:

Monday, July 14, 2014

IKON.iQ Ultimate Acrylic System

IKON.iQ Ultimate Acrylic System 
Uses a totally new manufacturing technique that produces the smallest polymer granules. The advantage of this is that the monomer is absorbed more evenly and it produces a super creamy acrylic ball that that delivers superb sculpting control. There are four colours: Crystal Clear, Perfect Pink, Cover Pink*** (camouflage polymer) and Champion White (the white and clear can be mixed to create a more natural white if required). The Clear is like glass, the pinks are very natural looking and the White is the brightest white we have seen.

Key features:
  • Supplied in 22g jars (other sizes to follow in the future)
  • Easy to apply, super sculpting control, no bubbles, does not yellow
  • Polymerisation time is a little quicker than the KUDOS acrylics, but not too fast for students
  • Easy to file
  • Low odour monomer

Competition nails created with the IKON.iQ Ultimate acrylic system

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Judging at Nailympia London, September 2014

This will be the 10th year anniversary for the Nailympia competitions (previously called Nailympics). Without doubt, these are the biggest and most presigious nail competitions in Europe that attracts the best competitors from more than 20 countries including Russia, USA, Korea.

One of the reasons for the success of Nailympia is that it attracts some of the best international competition judges, so competitors who have invested in the entry fees, travel and hotel costs, and worked for months to perfect their techniques, know that they will be honestly judged by the best. 

As before, Iryna will be judging the nail art competitions. It's always an honour to be invited and she is looking forward to see some great work and to meet old nail friends. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New IKON.iQ Sculpting Gels : low heat in UV lamp, no pinching required, white gel applied in one layer!

IKON.iQ ONE One-Phase Gel
Developed due to customer requests in Germany, IKON.iQ ONE is a medium viscosity clear one-phase (base, builder and top) gel. Since the product launch in May, it’s become one of our best selling products.

Key features:

  • Medium viscosity that doesn’t run into the sidewalls of the nail.
  • Very clear look, not cloudy
  • Excellent adhesion
  • Low allergy risk ingredients
  • Competitive price for exceptional value when comparing both quality and performance 

IKON.iQ Ultimate Sculpting Gels
Unique to Iryna Giblett, the IKON.iQ Ultimate sculpting gels offer a performance that is unmatched by any other gel in the market today. Developed by our chemist and a team of Educators who have won more than 60 international competitions medals, the Ultimate gels were then extensively tested in our network of salons, Academies and at several top competitions - including Nailympics 2012 where our team won six Gold medals. 

There are six colours: Cool Clear, Neutral Pink, Cover Pink** (camouflage gel), Cover Pink*** (camouflage gel), Pure White and Champion White.

Key features:
  • Cool when curing in the UV lamp
  • Easy and precise application
  • White gels can be applied in one layer with great colour depth and no shadows
  • Champion White is we believe the brightest white gel on the market
  • No-pinch technology: it’s possible to create up to 50% c-curves without pinching. 
  • Excellent adhesion. One Nail Technician in Germany tried 16 different gels to try to find a solution for a problem client. The IKON.iQ gels were the only solution that worked without lifting.
  • Low allergy risk ingredients (hypoallergenic). Used by Nail Technicians that have developed allergies to other gel products.