Gel manicures elevate your overall aesthetic, making you look polished and complete. They’re strong, flexible, and feel lightweight. Gel polishes need to be cured under UV/LED lamps and last on your nails for twice or thrice as long as regular nail polish. The process is so simple, which is one of the reasons why doing your own gel nails at home is so popular! Learn how to shop for your new UV/LED Gel Nail Lamp and be on your way to perfect gel nails.
There are hundreds and thousands of UV/LED nail lamps for curing gel polish on the market. Some of the features you’re likely to see advertised are: the wattage, type of bulb, whether it’s battery powdered or cord, what timer settings there are… These are the most basic things to consider before you even begin thinking about whether you want a one or two-hand curing lamp. How about a removable base so you can easily cure gel pedicures? Do you need it to be lightweight and portable?
How do you know which one to buy with all the features advertise?
Shopping for a UV/LED nail lamp shouldn’t be stressful or confusing. In this guide, we discuss a few points to consider to help you on your search for the perfect gel nail lamp. We’ve even got some recommendations for you at the end of the guide based off the tried-and-tested devices we sell at American Beauty Supply.
Read on to avoid wasting more money on nail lamps that don’t work for you.
UV or LED or Hybrid Nail Lamp
UV, LED, and Hybrid nail lamps are all used to cure gel polishes. This describes the type of lightbulb being used. UV lamps incorporate a tube-style bulb whereas LED nail lamps utilise LED bulb technology. Hybrid nail lamps incorporate both types of lightbulbs and have more efficient curing.
All gel curing nail lamps are “UV” however, they differ in cure capabilities. UV nail lamps will be able to cure basically all gel polishes besides LED gel polishes which can ONLY cure with an LED nail lamp.
Because a hybrid lamp combines the best of both worlds and covers a broader spectrum of light; it is able to cure all gel polishes.
Gel Polish and Nail Lamps
The gel polishes you use will either be UV or LED. The best way to choose a nail lamp is by following what’s recommended by the brand of gel polish you use.
Normally, the manufacturer of the gel polish will have their own curing requirements specified either on their website or packaging. They may also have their own gel nail lamp which would work best with their gel polishes.
Looking at the requirements of your gel polish is a good place to start. You’ll already be able to decide between a UV or LED nail lamp. If you have a variety of gel polishes in your collection then it might be a good idea to invest in a hybrid lamp to avoid needing to buy two separate lights.
Curing Speed of Nail Lamps
The time it takes to cure gel polishes will depend on several factors including the capabilities of the nail lamp and the gel polish itself. Nail lamps are limited by the type of bulb used as well as the wattage of the nail lamp.
UV nail lamps tend to be slower because they cure a broad light spectrum compared to LED nail lamps which cure a narrow light spectrum. LED nail lamps can cure gel polish in about 30-90 seconds while UV lamps can take up to 1-3 minutes. Hybrid lamps combine both lights and will be able to cure gels more efficiently and this is usually justified by the higher price of the nail lamp.
Wattages of Nail Lamps
Wattages refers to the amount of electricity consumed to power the bulbs of the nail lamp. It is represented with a capital ‘W’. Nail lamps can come with wattages ranging from as low as 12W and upwards.
Wattage is related to the curing speed of a nail lamp. In general, you will be able to get a faster drying time the higher the wattage is. With that advice in mind, you’ll also notice that the higher the wattage, the more expensive the nail lamp tends to be.
Efficiency should definitely be a contributing factor when you decide which nail lamp to buy. Aim for a nail lamp with 20W and above for UV nail lamps and nothing below 12W for an LED nail lamp. This will give you the best curing results for your gel nails.
Price Points of Nail Lamps
There are an abundance of nail lamps available on the market ranging anywhere from $20 to $700. The age old caveat “you get what you pay for” will apply in this case. That’s not saying that you have to buy the most expensive nail lamp in order to achieve the best results but the price of a nail lamp often reflects the extent of its capabilities.
LED lamps are generally more expensive than UV nail lamps, but they are more safe since they emit a narrower range of UV light. However, LED lamps can only cure LED gel polishes.
Nowadays, there are many UV/LED Hybrid nail lamps available with varying price points, features, and capabilities. For a home user, this is the best option as it will provide the functionalities of both a UV and LED lamp in the one and there are plenty affordable ones out there!
You should look at buying a nail lamp as a long term investment. Decide what exactly you are looking for in a nail lamp and then let that help determine the price you are willing to pay. You definitely should not opt for the cheapest ones because more often than not, you’ll need to replace it frequently or worse… It won’t even cure your gel polish.
Lifetime of Nail Lamps
Nothing good lasts forever and that goes for gel nail lamps too. How long a nail lamp lasts depends on a few things. One of them is the bulb life span and, if specified, is usually represented in hours.
LED nail lamps can have a bulb life span of over 50,000 hours. Breaking that down to smaller numbers for reference… one layer of LED gel polish might take a minute or so to cure. A full gel manicure could take around 5 minutes of total cure time. If you continue to do the math on that then you’ll realise that’s a lot of manicures and means you won’t ever need replace your LED nail lamp because of its bulb unless it gets damaged.
On the other hand, UV nail lamps have a much lower bulb life span of around 100 hours. This varies between different brands and manufacturers. Eventually, the light bulbs will need to be replaced. This is another expense professional users will have to consider. Nail businesses will be using it much more than a home user so this would cost more in the long run. On the other hand, home users would only use a UV nail lamp once every fortnight.
Another thing that lends to the lifetime of a nail lamp is its design and durability. Buying a durable nail lamp will mean there’s less chance of you having to replace them from damage. More on design in the next part!
Features & Design of Nail Lamps
How would you decide between one 60W UV/LED lamp and another 60W UV/LED lamp? It’s the features and design of the nail lamp that’ll be the differentiator! Here is a list of things to consider before buying a gel nail lamp:
- Bulb type
- UV, LED, Hybrid
- Wattage (W)
- the amount of energy consumed to power the bulbs
- dimensions and weight
- timer settings
- Size of curing chamber
- 5 or 10 fingers
- Wireless or cord
- rechargeable battery
- battery life
- cord length
- Removable tray for curing gel pedicures and effortless sanitising
Gel nails are a popular choice at the nail salon and as well as for at-home gel manicures. They last for weeks on end and easy enough to do in the comfort of your own lounge room! Does this call for a Girls’ Night In?
You now know how to shop for a UV/LED gel nail lamp. You’re one step closer to the gel mani of your dreams! Check out our best selling UV & LED nail lamps that’s perfect for the at-home gel manicure.
Our in-house nail expert recommends these 4 gel nail lamps.