What’s the difference between UV and LED Nail Lamps? 159

What's the difference between UV and LED nail lamps?

I receive a lot of questions about UV and LED lamps for curing gel polish, and thought it might be helpful to provide a brief comparison of the two.

Cost More affordable Generally more expensive, though prices are coming down
Typical Curing Time 2 minutes 30 seconds
Efficiency Use more energy (less efficient) Use less energy and are more eco-friendly
Bulb Life Bulbs need to be replaced periodically Bulbs last the life of the lamp and never need replacement
Types of polish Effectively cures ALL types of gel polish Only cures polishes that are formulated for LED technology


Most gel polish manufacturers sell lamps that are compatible with their products, and you will usually get the best results when using a lamp provided by the manufacturer.  If you’re like me, I like to try a variety of brands so I prefer powerful lamps that will work with most brands.  As mentioned above, not all polishes are formulated to work with LED lamps so you should check with the polish manufacturers to determine which polishes are compatible.  Most brands are now offering products that cure in LED lamps, and that is the wave of the future for soak-off gel polish.  I prefer to use LED lamps for the quicker curing times.  I also keep a UV light handy for the few gel polishes that I own that aren’t LED compatible, but I almost never have to use it any more.

Below are some lamp recommendations. I personally prefer lamps that fit your whole hand and not just four fingers because curing your thumb separately takes more time. I also recommend going with lamps that have a higher wattage because the stronger lamps will cure faster and better. The low-powered 6-watt mini lamps that come with most starter kits don’t always cure well.

LED Lamps:

LED Lamp Watts Size Timers Price*
Gelish 18G (my review) 36w 1 Hand 5s/20s/30s $205.00
MelodySusie 24w LED (my review) ** 24w 1 Hand 15s/30s/60s $69.99
MelodySusie 12w LED (my review) 12w 1 Hand 30s/60s/90s $39.99

UV Lamps:

UV Lamp Watts Size Timers Price*
MelodySusie 36w UV (my review) ** 36w 1 Hand 2m/3m/cont. $26.99
Thermal Spa 54w UV 54w 2 Hands 2m/3m/cont. $63.00


* prices are as of 3/27/15



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