A nail lamp is a special tool used in salons to allow nail products to cure and harden quickly and efficiently. Basically, there are two types of nails lamps available in the market: the UV and the LED nail lamps, with the main difference being the type of bulb used.
Types of nail lamps: LED vs UV lamps
I’ve tried to outline the key differences between both types of nail lamps in the table below.
Essentially, LED nail lamps are more effective on gel nail polish and other polishes that are designed for LED technology. Given that LED technology in nail lamps provides narrower UV wavelengths and these are essential in targeting photoinitiators found in nail polish, this speeds up the curing process. In less than a minute, polish is cured, as compared to the longer waiting period with UV lamps, which have broader UV wavelengths.
|UV nail lamps||LED nail lamps|
|Cost||More affordable||More expensive than the UV lamps, although prices have been declining|
|Typical time||2 min||under 1 min|
|Efficiency||Less energy efficient||Use less energy and are more eco-friendly|
|Bulb life||You need to replace bulbs periodically||Bulbs last the life of the lamp, no replacement is usually needed|
|Types of polish||Cures all types of gel polish||Only cures polishes that are designed for LED technology|
How to use a nail lamp
When you purchase a nail lamp, there are instructions indicated in the package, which should guide you on the proper usage of this tool. To ensure your safety, however, it helps to be aware of some techniques to prevent any problems that may cause injuries.
For instance, it is important that before you place your hands under the lamp, these should be covered with cloth. You may also choose to apply sunscreen with a minimum rating of SPF 15, but be sure to have your hands cleaned thoroughly before the process. This way, any residues or blotches on the nail plates can be prevented.
Best LED nail lamp reviews [Updated October 2018]
Below are five of the top-rated LED nail lamps you can find in stores, including their key features and benefits. First two are actually a combined LED/UV lamps, which represents the latest development in the market, i.e. to combine both technologies to cover a broader spectrum of wavelengths.
1. MelodySusie Pro48W LED UV Nail Lamp
This combined LED/UV lamp from MelodySusie is the newest version of their successful LED lamp, and it has undergone improvements in terms of its functions and features.
It comes with a bright 48-watt LED/UV light that speeds up the curing of gel nail polish. It is one of the most powerful nail drying lamps on the market that can cure both UV and LED gel nail polishes.
Customising the timer is also made possible, and you can select your preferred time using the preset timer option (15s, 30s, 60s, 90s Low Heat Mode).
It has a removable base for easy pedicures, and 180°angled high-efficiency LED and UV bulbs cure virtually all gel polishes.
This is a great professional nail dryer perfect for home or salon use.
2. Professional LED Nail Lamp by NailStar[
- DOUBLE UV/LED TECHNOLOGY: Brand new NailStar technology combines UV and LED light sources to cover an extremely wide ultraviolet band for curing all...
- TOUCH-FREE AUTOMATIC SENSORS: The integrated movement sensors will automatically activate the nail curing lamp when your hand is inserted. Removing...
- THREE FIXED TIMER SETTINGS: 30sec, 60sec and 90sec timers for perfect results every time with this UV Nail Lamp and LED Nail Lamp
- LED DISPLAY: Built-in LED display counts down seconds remaining until your nails are cured. This nail dryer is perfect for home use or for...
- REMOVABLE BASE: Designed for hands and feet, manicures and pedicures, the removable base allows for hygiene, easy cleaning and efficient storage.
This is lamp also benefits from a new technology that combines both UV and LED light sources to give you the finest quality of colour on your nails as it dries and cures polish in a matter of seconds.
With this piece of equipment, you can apply polish on your nails even at the comfort of your own home – and expect professional results all the time.
This nail lamp also comes with fixed timers in increments of 30 seconds, so you have the option to choose the length of time needed to dry the polish.
With lightweight and compact design, this lamp is hassle-free to bring anywhere you want.
3. Black LED Nail Lamp by Mylee
- SALON FAVOURITE - Mylee is a LEADING nail brand. Tried, tested and loved by salon professionals
- SALON-QUALITY GEL MANI & PEDI - Salon-worthy gel manicure in seconds. Removable Lower Tray allows you to do pedicures easily.
- QUICK AND EASY - The powerful 12 watt bulbs and fine-tuned wavelength means an expert cure in JUST 30 seconds
- MOTION ACTIVATED SENSOR - 15sec, 30sec & 60sec Fixed Timers with built in Motion Activated Sensor for Automatic Illumination.
- COMPATIBLE WITH ALL GEL NAIL BRANDS - including CND Shellac, Bluesky, Gelish & OPI.
Another highly recommended nail lamp sold in the market, Mylee LED lamp can dry gel nail polish in 30 seconds.
It features a magnetic base to keep the lamp stable and ready to use at all times.
Cleanup is also a breeze, and this adds to your overall convenience of using the lamp whenever and wherever.
Some of the special features of this nail lamp include the motion-active sensor for the timer, less chances of suffering from skin damage, minimal heat emitted, and broad curing window.
By using this LED lamp, your nails are cured and ready in a few seconds – about thrice as fast as what traditional nail lamps can do.
4. LED Nail Lamp by USpicy
Designed for home use, yet offering professional quality of results all the time, this LED nail lamp is a must-have for chic and polished nails.
This tool has fixed timers starting at 30 seconds and up to 30 minutes, which ensure quick drying of gel polish.
The life span of the lamp is good for 50,000 hours, and this equates to over 5 years of usage.
Whether you want to use it at home, on the road or elsewhere, you can bring this tool along with its portable design and space-saving design that fits in your bag perfectly.
5. Bella Nails LED Nail Lamp
- Our Best-selling Professional Level LED 12W Lamp Works with all UV gel products, and cures LED polishes in seconds.
- PERFECT curing results EVERY TIME thanks to our REVOLUTIONARY multi-dimensional reflective interior design.
- 4 Timed modes (30,60,90 & 300 Seconds) With Auto Shut-off Feature For Your Safety.
- HIGH-EFFICIENCY LED BULBS that never need replacing plus SAFER on your skin than the HARMFUL UV RADIATION you get from traditional UV lamps.
Give your nails superb quality polish that simply looks flawless. With this LED nail lamp by Bella Nails, you can achieve salon-perfect results for the polish applied.
It can cure nails three times faster, which is much quicker than what traditional UV lamps can offer.
You will also appreciate the fact that LED bulbs are durable, so there are no problems with breakage.
Most importantly, exposure to UV rays is prevented, and this minimises any risks to your health.
So, when it comes to beautifully-painted and perfectly-cured nails, this tool is the right choice for you.
LED nail lamps frequently asked questions
Q: What’s the difference between LED and UV nail lamps?
LED nail lamps are more energy-efficient, they dry gel nail polish in less time and don’t need any bulb replacements.
Traditional UV lamps are cheaper but use more energy and take longer to dry nail polish. You also need to periodically replace the bulb.
Generally, LED lamps are the best but you need to make sure you only use nail polish that can be dried with LED.
Q: Are LED nail lamps safe?
Before LED lamps came along, many people were concerned that UV lamps could cause skin cancer.
The truth is, LED lamps also emit UVA radiation. In fact, they emit more of it compared to UV lamps.
But there is nothing to worry about with either type of nail lamp. The amount of radiation produced is too low to have any harmful side effects even with frequent use.
To be completely safe, experts recommend applying sunscreen on your hands or wearing UV-blocking fingerless gloves before you use a nail lamp.
Q: Is an LED nail lamp safe for pregnant women?
While the skin does get more sensitive to UVA radiation when you are pregnant, there is no danger to you or the baby from using an LED nail lamp occasionally for short periods of time.
The good thing about LED lamps is that they work very quickly – 30 seconds to 1 minute. That’s not long enough to cause any sensitivity issues or affect your baby.
So unless you experience any discomfort when using an LED nail lamp, it is perfectly fine to keep using it during pregnancy.
Q: How long does it take for an LED lamp to cure nail gel polish?
The exact time will depend on the brand of gel polish and the coat you are applying. Check the label on the polish for curing instructions. It will indicate curing times for both UV and LED lamps.
Generally, it takes around 10-30 seconds to cure the base coat and 60 seconds for the top coat.
This is half the time it takes with a UV nail lamp.
LED nail lamps come with a timer that lets you set the period of exposure. Most timers range between 10s and 120s with small increments in between.
Q: How does an LED nail lamp work?
Gel nail polish contains molecules called photoinitiators which react when exposed to UV radiation from a UV or LED lamp.
The light essentially acts as a catalyst, triggering a series of small chemical reactions which cause the polish to harden or cure.
You can also use normal sunlight since it also contains UV radiation but the polish will cure much more slowly and incorrectly.
One advantage of an LED lamp over a UV lamp is that it produces narrow wavelengths that target photoinitiators more precisely. That’s why the lamp is able to dry polish in under a minute.
Q: What LED nail lamp wattage should I get?
The wattage of an LED nail lamp can be as low as 6W to as high as 60W.
A higher wattage lamp is going to cure your nail polish faster and more efficiently. But it’s going to cost you more.
For home use, a 12W LED nail lamp is good enough.
Q: Can you dry normal nail polish with an LED nail lamp?
No you cannot. Gel nail polish contains special molecules called photoinitiators that are targeted by the UV radiation from the lamp.
Normal nail polish doesn’t have these molecules and can only be air-dried.
Additionally, not all gel nail polishes can be cured using an LED lamp. Some are designed only for use with UV lamps.
So check the label before you buy the polish and make sure it can be cured using either UV or LED.
Q: Can I air-dry gel nail polish?
You can dry gel polish outside in the sun but the results won’t be pretty. Also, it will take much longer.
A UV or LED nail lamp is the best option.
Q: How do I clean an LED nail lamp?
Most LED nail lamps have a removable tray or base plate that you can pull out and wipe clean with a dry microfiber cloth.
That’s enough to remove any fingerprint, smudges and small bits of dirt.
Check the user manual for specific cleaning and maintenance instructions.
Check out these products and choose the best LED nail lamp that meets your needs and expectations. Finally, perfectly-polished nails will be all yours even without the need to go to the salon!