UV vs LED lamp for gel nails header

The two types of nail lamps used to cure gel nail polish are classified as being either LED or UV. This refers to the type of bulbs inside the unit and the kind of light they emit.

There are a few differences between the two lamps, which may inform your decision on which nail lamp to purchase for your nail salon or mobile nail salon service.

Here at Salons Direct, we stock a wide range of UV and LED nail lamps, and with so many choices available, we’ve created this helpful guide to help you understand the main differences between the two.

UV vs LED Nail Lamp: Which Is Better For Curing Gel Polish?

Image showing 3 nail lamps

Which is Better: UV or LED Nail Lamp?

When it comes to choosing the right nail lamp, it all comes down to your personal preference. The main considerations are what you’re looking to get out of your nail lamp, your budget, and the products you use.

What is the Difference Between an LED Lamp and UV Nail Lamp?

The difference between an LED and UV nail lamp is based on the type of radiation the bulb emits. Gel nail polish contains photoinitiators, a chemical that requires direct UV wavelengths to be hardened or ‘cured’ – This process is called a ‘photoreaction’.

Both LED and UV nail lamps emit UV wavelengths and work in the same way. However, UV lamps emit a broader spectrum of wavelengths, while LED lamps produce a narrower, more targeted number of wavelengths.

Science aside, there are a number of key differences between LED and UV lamps for nail technicians to be aware of:

  • LED lamps typically cost more than UV lamps.
  • However, LED lamps tend to last longer, while UV lamps often need bulbs replaced.
  • LED lamps can cure gel polish faster than UV light.
  • Not all gel polishes can be cured by an LED lamp.

You can also find UV/LED nail lamps on the market. These have both LED and UV bulbs, so you can switch between what type of gel polish you use.

How Long to Cure Gel Nails with an LED Light and UV Lamp?

The main selling point of an LED lamp is the time that can be saved when using it compared to curing by a UV lamp. Typically an LED lamp will cure a layer of gel polish in 30 seconds, which is a lot quicker than the 2 mins that it takes a 36w UV lamp to do the same job. However, whether or not this will save you time, in the long run, depends on how quickly you can apply the next coat of colour while one hand is in the lamp!

How Long do LED Lamps Last?

Most UV lamps have a bulb life of 1000 hours, but it’s recommended that the bulbs are changed every six months. LED lamps should last for 50,000 hours, which means you should never have to worry about changing the bulbs. So whilst they might be considerably more expensive an investment in the first place, you should factor in what you’d spend on bulb replacements when weighing up your options.

What Wattage is Best for a Gel Nail Lamp?

Most professional LED and UV nail lamps are at least 36 watts. This is because higher-watt bulbs can cure gel polish faster – which is very important in a salon setting. For LED polish, a high-wattage LED lamp can cure it within seconds, while a UV lamp will always take a little longer.

Can You Use Any LED Light For Gel Nails?

LED nail lamps differ from regular LED lights you might use in your home because they have a much higher wattage. You will notice how bright LED nail lamps are, this is because gel polish needs a higher level of UV radiation than could be provided outside or by a regular lightbulb. However, not all LED nail lamps can cure every type of polish, some polishes are designed specifically for UV nail lamps.

Does an LED Lamp Cure UV Gel – Or, Can You Cure UV Gel with a LED Lamp?

Some gel polishes have been formulated to be used with UV nail lamps only, so an LED lamp will not work in this case. You should always check whether the brand of gel polish you are using is compatible with an LED lamp.

All gel polishes will be compatible with a UV lamp, as they emit a wider spectrum of wavelengths that can cure all types of gel polish. It will indicate on the bottle what type of lamp can be used with the product.

Some gel polish brands recommend you use their specially developed lamp for their particular formulas. this often ensures you are using the right wattage to avoid over-curing the polish.

 

Is LED or UV safer?

Whilst it has been proven that UV exposure will cause minimal to no damage to your client’s skin, if you are in any doubt, then it’s best to stick to LED lamps as they do not use any UV light and therefore pose no risk.

Do UV or LED Lamps work on regular nail polish?

In short, an LED lamp or UV lamp will not work on regular polish. This is because the formulation is entirely different; gel polish contains a polymer that needs to be ‘cured’ by an LED lamp or UV lamp to become rigid. Regular nail polish needs to be ‘air-dried’.

What are the best LED Nail Lamps?

Here at Salons Direct, we stock a wide range of professional LED nail lamps from leading brands such as Gellux, Glossify, ORLY and more.

Gellux LED Smart Lamp

Image of the Gellux Smart Lamp

SHOP NOW

The Gellux LED Smart Lamp is a powerful, high-performance curing LED designed with special features to benefit you and your client.

Key Features:

  • Digital LED countdown display.
  • Sensitive/ Low heat settings.
  • Pre-set memory function for 10,30, 60 & 90 seconds.
  • Removable base for pedicures.
  • Sections in the base plate for five accurate finger positioning.
  • Automatic sensor.
  • Flat surface for wrist comfort.
  • Easy grip built-in with the integrated handle.
  • Glossy, acetone-resistant finish.
  • Centrally place power cables to ensure no trailing leads across the work area.

Glossify Smart Lamp

Image of the Glossify Smart Lamp

SHOP NOW

The Glossify Smart Lamp is perfect for all nail techs, the compact size means it can be used for mobile and salon use to cure all Glossify gels.

Key Features:

  • LED display.
  • Automatic motion sensor.
  • Low heat mode.
  • Multifunction timer.
  • Removable base plate for easy foot placement.
  • 70,000 hours of light time.
  • 12 Months Warranty.

Gellux Express LED Lamp

Image of Gellux express LED lamp

SHOP NOW

Perfect for mobile nail technicians, the Gellux Express LED Lamp is an ultra-fast LED lamp that features a raised base for pedicures and an automatic motion sensor for instant light activation and accurate timing.

Profile Gellux Mini LED Lamp

Image of Gellux mini LED lamp

SHOP NOW

 

The Gellux Mini LED Lamp is a 10W lamp with a 30-second timer, removable base and reflective inner surface. The compact, ergonomic design is ideal for mobile nail technicians and students.

Key Features

  • Features 47 LED bulbs for optimum cure with a bulb life of approximately 20,000 hours.
  • The Gellux Mini LED Lamp is designed for use with Gellux Gel Polish and UV/LED Hard Gel.

Kiara Sky Gelly Tip Mini Lamp

 

Image of Kiara sky gelly tip mini lamp

SHOP NOW

 

Another fantastic option for mobile nail techs is the Kiara Sky Beyond Pro Flash Cure LED Lamp, which is specially designed for Kiara Sky Gelly Tips system. This lightweight and compact design provides freehand flash curing convenience and is perfect for gel manicures and pedicures, gel art, and stone application.

Key Features:

  • Portable and Lightweight.
  • Preset Timer 60/45 seconds.
  • Micro USB cable.
  • LG Technology.
  • Acetone Resistant.
  • UV Coating.
  • 2 LED Curing Lightbulbs.

Orly Gel FX 800FX LED Lamp

Image of ORLY gel fix 800fx nail lamp

SHOP NOW

 

The Orly Gel FX 800FX LED Lamp is able to cure all five fingers at the same time! This digital LED lamp is made from the best quality materials and is energy efficient.

Profile Gellux LED PRO-Lamp

Image of Gellux Pro LED lamp

SHOP NOW

 

This best-selling Gellux LED PRO Lamp is for use with Gellux polishes. It cures nails in just 30 seconds for less risk of shrinkage, flooding or knocks.

Key Features:

  • Convenient bulb time for 30, 60 and 90 seconds.
  • Perfect for beginners and fidgety clients!

For more inspiration and advice, we recommend this blog post on which is the best LED nail lamp.

What are the best UV / Combination lamps?

Did you know you can garner the best of both a UV and LED nail lamp with a combination nail lamp? Here are some of our bestsellers…

The Edge Lyra 36w UV/LED Combination Lamp

Image of Edge Lyra nail lamp

SHOP NOW

 

The Edge Lyra 36w UV/LED Combination Lamp has a professional and stylish curved design.

Key Features:

  • Five-finger curing.
  • The lamp cures UV Builder/ Hard Gels and LED gels.
  • Digital timer display.
  • Two timer settings: 30’s and 60’s.

Glossify Professional UV/LED Nail Lamp

Image of Glossify Professional UV/LED Nail Lamp

SHOP NOW

 

The Glossify UV/LED Dual Cure Lamp is stylish, compact and lightweight, perfect for any nail tech on the move!

Key Features:

  • A low heating setting reduces the chances of heat spikes on the nails.
  • Helps cure both UV/LED Gel Polish.
  • The preset timer of 30 & 60 seconds.
  • Six months warranty.

The Edge Apollo 48w UV/LED Combination Lamp

Image of Edge apollo nail lamp

SHOP NOW

 

The Edge professional 48w UV/LED combination apollo lamp will cure UV builder/hard gels and LED-compatible gels.

Key Features:

  • Low heat mode.
  • Double power setting.
  • Five-finger curing.
  • Digital timer display.
  • Four timer settings (10s, the 30s, 60s & 99s)
  • Removable plate for toenail curing.

Glitterbels UV/LED Lamp Sunbel 4S

Image of Glitterbels UV/LED Lamp Sunbel 4S

SHOP NOW

 

The Glitterbels UV/LED Lamp Sunbel 4S has been created and designed for use with the Glitterbels range, it features a low-temperature mode as well as a high-power mode with 10,30,60 & 99 second curing time to suit all nail treatments.

Key Features:

  • Cures 5 fingers at one time with an automatic hand sensor.
  • Detachable bottom tray for pedicure use.
  • 50,000 hours lifespan.
  • 48W UV/ LED.
  • 395-405 nanometre wavelength.

View our extensive range of UV and LED lamps and gel polish starter kits online at Salons Direct.

Discover the Salons Direct blog, your trusted source for industry news, product releases, how-to guides and more!

You may also enjoy more nail-related content…

50 Memes Every Nail Tech Will Relate ToNail Tech Essentials For The Perfect Gel Finish With @NailedItBeauty| Guide to Vegan & Cruelty-Free Nail Polish For Salons

Follow Salons Direct on Instagram

Watch Salons Direct on TikTok