As a part of the Detailed Image Ask A Pro Team, I get the opportunity to try out a lot of different products long before they reach the market. The manufacturers look to us for everything from product development help to simple product feedback. Some of these products and opportunities are brilliant, some of them are “me-too”, and some need to go back to the lab for further refinement.
Rewind to over a year ago and I received a bottle of Black Light from Chemical Guys that had been in development for a while in their Thailand offices. I was told that it was designed to meet the harsh environmental conditions of Thailand, and should do extremely well in the North American market as well. It was being marketed as a gloss-enhancing sealant, so I figured that I would give it a try.
Chemical Guys Black Light Hybrid Radiant Finish
Since the product name is somewhat nondescript, let’s take a look at the label to get more information on what the product is exactly:
Black Light Radiant Finish is crafted and formulated especially for car lovers who aim for the smoothest , sharpest and wettest reflection possible with strong durability ,ease of application and anti static property.
Black Light Radiant Finish has a fully synthetic nano blended formulation with a massive emulsion of gloss enhancers coupled with the new bi – blend technology that leaves one crazy slick finish .
The new blending technology allows for vastly homogeneous mixture resulting in an extremely smooth finish once the applied layer is fully and properly cured.
So…did that description answer your questions on what it is? I didn’t think so…
What is Black Light?
Fortunately for the readers of the AAP Blog, I have spent an entire year testing and working with Black Light before writing this review instead of simply reading the label and trying it once or twice.
When you read into the product description, you kind of get the idea that it’s a gloss enhancer. Then as you read it again you may think it’s a sealant. Well you’d actually be correct on both fronts, so let’s call it a “gloss-enhancing sealant”.
If you’re looking for a product that will add a tremendous amount of gloss and color enhancement to your paint, then Black Light does it perfectly. If you’re looking for a product to add a layer of protection from the elements, then Black Light does that well too. Either way you use it, you will be extremely happy with how the paint looks…regardless of the color.
But wait, there’s more!
Chemical Guys Black Light as an All-In-One (AIO)?
Since I’ve worked with Black Light for so long, and have had discussions with the behind-the-scenes people in charge of designing this formula, I can tell you another use for this product that you won’t read on the label, or in other product reviews…it also makes a great All-In-One (cleaner, polish, sealant).
Black Light contains very fine abrasives in the formula to help clean and lightly polish the surface while it’s adding gloss and protection. So if your car (or customer’s car) is a bit needy, but a major paint correction detail isn’t on the menu or budget, then you can reach for an incredibly easy to use product like Black Light for the job. I’ve taken worn-out cars and given them a quick application of Black Light, and have been stunned by the difference that it made in such a short amount of time. And to further define “short amount of time”, I mean just 30 minutes with a D/A polisher! Not only will you get light correction and color/gloss enhancement, but you’re completing it with a layer of durable protection at the same time.
While I didn’t take any “before” photos of this Bentley, it had what you’d expect from a 5 year old car with soft paint…a lot of haze and wash-induced marring. While you may think that a vehicle of this caliber would be a prime candidate for a several thousand dollar full paint correction detail, we agreed simply to make it better without turning it into a show car. Once again in a short amount of time and very little effort, we made a major transformation by using Black Light, and the owner of the vehicle was absolutely thrilled with the results.
How to use Chemical Guys Black Light?
While some products are very particular about the application and / or removal process, Black Light is as easy to use as it gets, which is pretty standard from Chemical Guys. Personally, I don’t like working with products that are finicky or are difficult to use unless their results far outweigh the obstacles. So for me, the ease of use factor of Black Light immediately makes it a go-to product.
The preferred method for Black Light is with a dual-action polisher (D/A). Using a soft finishing pad (black or blue), put the speed on 3.5~4, and apply just a couple of pea-sized drops to the pad. Quickly spread it around with the machine on, and then slow down your arm movement a bit to work it in evenly. You don’t have to work it like you would a polish…you’re simply going over the area long enough to provide a cleaning of the paint and getting an even coverage. 2 small drops can do a working area of about a half of a door (a little goes a long way). It’s very similar to using Chemical Guys EZ Creme Glaze…goes on smooth, a little goes a long way, and there should be very little residue. If you see a lot of residue after your application, then you’ve used too much product.
What about pressure? This really depends on how you’re using it. If you’re using it post-polishing as a sealant, then just use light pressure at most. If you’re using it as an AIO, use light-to-medium pressure to allow the fine abrasives to work for you more.
What about curing time? Black Light only needs about 15 minutes to cure before you wipe it down. If you wish to apply a second coat (by hand works well), or if you want to top it with a wax, then give it another 30 minutes after wiping it down.
What about durability? Durability on these products depends on so many factors…how it was applied, how the surface was prepped, how the vehicle is maintained, what kind of shampoos are used, etc, etc. One person may see just 2 months while another will see 6. On my personal car I easily saw 4 months of protection, and it could have been longer but I always like to freshen it up before the protection slopes off. Unless you’re talking about a boutique paste wax that only lasts 3-4 weeks, I think the subject of durability is over-used and over-rated. If somebody’s in the market for all-out durability and they don’t want to touch their cars for long periods of time, then they’re going to look for a product like Optimum Opti-Coat. But for people who like to work with their cars and keep them looking fresh, the durability of a Black Light or a Blackfire Wet Diamond, or Menzerna Power Lock will be more than sufficient.
Can it be applied by hand? Yes. For those who don’t own or use a D/A polisher, Black Light can easily be applied by hand with a simple foam applicator. Just remember that a little goes a long way.
Can you top it with a wax? Yes, you can! After about 30 minutes from when you’re finished wiping it down, you can top it if you like (not necessary, but you can if you want to). Black Light in my experience is very compatible with carnauba paste waxes, and I haven’t had any issues with bonding, smearing, etc. I’ve topped it with everything from Chemical Guys Hardcore XXX paste wax (one of the best waxes for the money!), to Pete’s 53, to E-Zyme and have had stellar results with all of them.
On this TDF Blue Ferrari 360, I used Black Light as an AIO, then topped it with Chemical Guys Pete’s 53 wax, and wiped it down with V7. The car looked absolutely spectacular when finished!
How to maintain the Black Light finish? To keep the finish looking it’s best, I highly recommend using Chemical Guys V7 spray sealant / detailer. Use it as part of your drying process by spraying your waffle weave drying towel with V7 before wiping down each panel. V7 won’t leave streaking or smearing, it’s very easy to use, and will increase the durability of your wax and / or sealant. As of right now (and for the past 8 months or so), this is the only spray sealant / quick detailer / drying aid that I use! I guess I need to get busy and write a review about it as well!
Final Thoughts on Chemical Guys Black Light
As I said in my opening statement, I have been using Black Light for over a year now on just about every single car that has been detailed at the Esoteric studio. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t still be using it, right?
This product does so many things well that I couldn’t imagine dropping it from my arsenal (unless something better comes out of course). I use it as a final sealant, and I use it as an all-in-one product. I even have a pre-set starter package that I offer where Black Light is the featured AIO (for you detailers out there…that type of service with this product is where the big profit is…it’s not in the full correction jobs).
No one product is perfect for all types of paints and all conditions, and Black Light is no different. Because of the light abrasives in the formula, I have found a few finicky, ultra-soft paints where it would leave slight marring after finishing up a full correction detail. When using it as an all-in-one on neglected soft paint, this isn’t an issue. When working on perfected soft (dark) paints however, I’ve noticed slight marring (usually only seen under a bright LED light like the Brinkmann). This is not a deal-breaker by any means because these types of paints are rare.
In my professional opinion, Chemical Guys Black Light is one of the great products available out there in the market, and it most definitely gets my seal of approval!
If you have any questions or comments, or you would like to share your personal experiences with Black Light, please do so in the comment box below. Thank you!