Heat Spike On Gel Nails: What is it?

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What type of nail polish do you prefer? Do you go for the traditional nail lacquers or do you have your eye on acrylics and gel polishes? 

Gel polishes are quite popular for their durability. They harden and don’t easily get chipped or peel off. You’ll enjoy your beautifully manicured nails for a longer time. 

However, some people still don’t want to try them out. They are afraid of the dreaded heat spike on gel nails. That’s because some people describe it as excruciating pain. 

Have you ever felt a heat spike? What causes heat spikes and can they be avoided? Let’s answer all those questions below so that you won’t have to be afraid of trying gel nail polishes again. 


What Causes Heat Spike On Gel Nails?

Gel Nail Instructions

Heat is a by-product of the reaction produced when gel nail polish is exposed to UV light from a nail lamp. The light energy initiates the polymerization of the resin in gel polish.

Polymerization is needed in order to harden the gel polish. 

In most cases, the heat produced is minimal. Some people may only feel a little warmth, which is not painful at all.

However, there are some who experience too much heat. This is what is known as a heat spike. 

The amount of heat produced depends on how many bonds are formed through the polymerization reaction.

We can handle it a little bit at a time. However, when many bonds are created quickly, there will be a lot of heat produced in a short amount of time. 

Another reason why heat spikes are painful is that the nail plate may be compromised. If it is thin, the nail bed is more intensely exposed to the heat.

That is why it feels too hot and painful. 

The nails can be too thin due to over-filing (especially with electric nail drills). The thinness can make the nail bed more sensitive to heat. 

What Causes Heat Spikes in Gel Nails

Heat spikes aren’t comfortable at all! And you shouldn’t sacrifice the pain just to get gorgeous gel nails.

There are a few ways to avoid heat spikes. They are as follows

Heat Spike Gel Nail – Avoid It!

Don’t Over-file Nails

Thin nails will cause your nail bed to be more sensitive and feel the heat. The first thing you should do to avoid heat spikes is to avoid over-filing your nails. 

Sometimes when you are removing a previous manicure done on your nails, you use nail files. Although these successfully remove acrylics or gels, you can also overdo the filing. 

Avoid peeling off your acrylic, gel, or other fake nails off of our natural nails. That will take off a layer of your natural nails, making them thinner and more sensitive. 

It is best to allow the nails to grow a bit so your nails can first recover before you redo them. 

Apply Thinner Layers

Thinner layers mean that there is less to polymerize during each curing procedure. Heat will still be produced when thin layers are polymerized. But they won’t produce as much heat as those with thick layers. 

Apart from preventing heat spikes, using thinner layers also ensures that the entire layer is efficiently cured. 

Use The Right Type Of Lamp

Another thing that you should do is to check that you are using the right kind of lamp. There are gel polishes that require UV lamps while there are others that require LED lamps. 

Gel polishes that require UV lamps are usually longer to cure than those that require LED lamps. If you use gel polishes that require UV lamps under LED lamps, then you will be rushing the process. 

Remember that UV lamps usually cure gel polishes for about 90 to 120 seconds. LED lamps on the other hand only need 30 seconds to cure the gel polishes. 

Different gel polishes may have different formulations and rushing their curing time will just produce heat spikes. 

Final Thoughts

Heat spikes can be awfully painful! Many who have heard stories shy away from gel nails. The curing process of gel polishes naturally produces heat. However, most of those who had gel polish can tolerate the heat as it is only minimal. 

Those who feel a heat spike tend to have thinner nails that could have been over-filed during nail preparation. Additionally, gel nail polishes that are cured too quickly or those that are too thick can also produce heat spikes. 

The best way to avoid heat spikes is to properly prepare the nail without over-filing them, applying thinner layers of gel polish, and curing with the right lamp at the right duration. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).