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

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.

UV LED
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

** BEST BUYS!

 

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180 Responses

  1. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for this! For anyone shopping around for a lamp, I have the Shany UV Gel Lamp. I got it off of Amazon for $18 on a lightning deal and it works perfectly!!! I am dying to get an LED lamp for speed though :)

  2. Anne says:

    I like using the UV lamp myself. Yes, it takes a bit longer to light up, but I feel I see better with it. The LED lamp, at least the one I tried, was too harsh.

  3. Shelly Sim says:

    Red Carpet LED lamp does have a timer! Well, sort of. It turns itself off after 45 seconds.
    Reference: I have one. :)

  4. Andrea Taylor says:

    Like everyone I wanted a quality LED light but was not convinced to spend the mega dollars requested by brand name producers (eg Gelish) so turned to where they are all manufactured =China! I have had my non branded LED since Xmas & it is completely faultless & awesome! It is identical to the Gelish brand (prob same factory) without the brand stamped on the outside. I paid AU$160 to my door! Alibaba.com is the website & they ship worldwide.

    • Andrea says:

      I just want to say that I can’t endorse this site. Shop at your own risk!

    • liz says:

      Hi Andrea,
      Can you send me a link of the exact one you bought? I paid for one and then read later it only has the suropean plug in and the one listed in the pic isnt the one they can send now Im really concerned Ive paid for a lamp I cant use.
      Let me know..
      This is the one I purchased and I live in canada.

      • Andrea says:

        I linked to the exact one that I bought in this post above. I removed the link that you posted for Ali Express – that is a knock off version and is not a Gelish lamp.

      • tanya says:

        You can use it but you need a voltage adapter . In my country it costs around 10 Euros.

  5. Annick says:

    Thank you for posting this. I have a question you may be able to help me with. I have an led lamp 3.5 or 5W from Gelicious and I tried to cure Gelish in it the Black Gelish does not seem to cure but the clear top coat does. any ideas? I have tried curing time from 30 seconds to 1.5 minutes. I know the lamp is from a different brand but have been told by the shop assistant that gelish will cure in any led lamp.

    • Andrea says:

      I’ve had trouble curing dark colors in other LED lamps. Black Cherry Berry is one that I can’t get to cure in my non-Gelish lamp. The shop assistant is not correct about being able to cure the polishes using any LED lamp because they can produce different wavelengths of light. Each brand/color is formulated to work with specific wavelengths which is why the brands sell their own lamps (and why I keep a UV light on hand at all times because they cure ALL SOG products).

  6. Katriz says:

    I’m so glad I found this online! I’ve been leaving this question to many YouTube tutorial people but they have yet to answer so maybe you know the answer lol Can I use non-soak off gels or gels like the IBD soak off gel builder with an L.E.D light lamp? Will they cure?

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Katriz! I don’t have any experience with the IBD builder gel. It really depends on the product/brand. Some will only cure with a UV lamp, some are LED compatible. Read the labels or product descriptions to see if they are LED compatible, or contact the manufacturer if you are still unsure.

  7. Katriz says:

    Thanks Andrea! You’re the only one that has at least attempted to help me! Thank you!

    • Tamera says:

      I have used this product and have a hard time getting the builder to cure with led but just fine with any uv.

    • Miriam says:

      Hi
      I have read that the ibd builder gels don’t cure in an LED lamp, only in a uv lamp. I personally haven’t tried it, but that’s what I have read in my research to buy an LED lamp.

  8. Josette Moving says:

    Hello. Thanks for your simple explanation of the two lamps. Along with either of these lamps, do I need to purchase a nail dryer or does it dry when it cures? (I’m new at this).

    • Andrea says:

      The polish dries and hardens to a perfect finish with the lamp. Nothing else is needed. After curing the polish it’s completely dry to the touch and you can go about your business without worrying about denting or smudging your polish.

  9. Josette Moving says:

    Why are they called Soak off gel polish? What is meant by soak off?

  10. Tiffany says:

    I just ordered a Lumsing LED 18W lamp from Amazon and when it arrived it says LED UV. What? I already have a UV lamp and don’t need another one. I’m wondering if I even need this or if I should stick with my old Therma Spa UV. It doesn’t look like a UV- wondering if it’s just because it is a piece of junk? Should I return it? $100 so not cheap! Thanks!

    • Andrea says:

      I’m not familiar with that lamp, but LED lights also use “UV technology”, so that’s probably why it says LED UV. LED lamps are different from UV and cure faster.

      • Lulu says:

        LED lamps can be made to emit slightly different wavelengths. LED UV lights that are used with gel nails simply have more light with wavelengths slightly shorter than blue, which means they emit more UV light than other regular LED lights.

        • Lulu says:

          Sorry, I wasn’t finished! What I meant to continue with, is that although the LED lamps used for nails produce more UV light, this is almost completely absorbed by the phosphor that is also in the lamp. So essentially, the LED lamps produce a LOT less UV light than UV lamps. It’s not fair to say “one is no safer than the other” because LED UV lamps are a LOT safer than UV lamps!

          “Ignorance breeds fear. Knowledge is power.”

    • Michelle says:

      Tiffany, how do you like the Lumsing so far? Is the drying time 30-60 seconds?!

  11. Kayla says:

    Hello guys.
    I’m looking to buy a LED light but I need more info on cure time for the wattage Ex. 3w cure time 1 min. I already own a 36w UV light. I would like a LED light that has the fastest cure time. But not sure what wattage to go with. If anyone has info on wattage and cure time I would really appreciate it ! Thanks guys :)

  12. Sabrina says:

    UV lamps are potential skin cancer risk. Derms recomend LED intead of UV. There is lower chance of skin cancer risk for UV Lamps compared rto tanning beds but LED is the best choice.

  13. Barbara Ganus says:

    Andrea, are you familiar with the Red Carpet Manicure Pro 45 Starter Kit? Any feedback?

  14. Hayley says:

    Hi there Im in the process of buying a uv gel lamp and i have no idea which one to use! It will only be used on my self and not for a business. which lamp would you suggest? At a decent price.

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Hayley – All of the ones that I listed are good quality lamps. If you are looking for a low-cost UV lamp, try the Shany. If you want to cure both hands at once, the Thermal Spa and Royal Nails lamps might be a better option.

  15. Suzanne says:

    Hi Andrea, I have the RCM portable lamp. I recently got some compatable UV/LED nail polish but i’m not sure how long to cure this with the protable lamp. I know the pro lamp takes 45 seconds should i double this time or would that be too long ?

    • Andrea says:

      If it’s the RCM LED lamp, 45 seconds should work.

      • Suzanne says:

        Hi Andrea, the reason i asked this is because when i looked at the RCM website it said to cure RCM polish for 1 minute with the portable lamp and 30 seconds with the pro lamp so i just assumed it wasn’t as strong as the pro lamp. I will try it out and see how it goes. Thanks :-)

  16. Michelle says:

    Andrea, thank you so much for creating this, it’s just what I’ve been looking for! I found this 18W lamp on amazon, is it just a ‘generic’ to Gelish? The reviews look very promising, but the cost is so much lower than Gelish it concerns me. Thanks again!!

  17. Danielle says:

    Hi Andrea – do you know if you can use a UV light with Sally Hansen’s Salon Gel Polish? I noticed on the box that it requires an LED light, but I saw your post said you can use a UV light on any get polish? Thanks!!

  18. Lyndsey says:

    Hi Andrea

    Please can you help I have a GELLUX LED lamp to cute gel polish, but it’s taking ages to dry the nails? Does this mean I need a new lamp? How do you know when they are end of life if the bulbs still work??

  19. Michelle says:

    Do you have any idea whether the gelish hard gels will cure with the gelish 45 lamp? I can’t find any info about it!

  20. Ericka says:

    I have used Harmony gelish for 3 years and notice certain colors fade a lot show streaks after a couple of days: It’s a Lily, Seafoam green, and My Nightly Craving are the worst offenders. I do 2 coats. Do you think switching from a UV light to LED would make a difference?

    • Andrea says:

      No, the light makes no difference. Many of the light pink/mauve colors do fade over time with sunlight exposure.

    • Heather says:

      I know its been awhile Ericka, but for the Seafoam color, I put at least one extra coat after I think I’ve done enough and it doesn’t seem to fade on me. I just changed colors after wearing it for almost 3 weeks and it didn’t show any signs of fading.

  21. Taylor says:

    So Andrea you said you have the Harmony Gelish 18G LED Lamp, and I was wondering what your thoughts were on it being a starter LED light for me. I am new to the home soak off world and I am looking to purchase a LED lamp, however there are so many out there Its hard for me to choose but from the reviews I’ve done, Gelish 18G had some of the highest reviews and looks the highest quality so far. It is the same one my nail girl uses, but is it user friendly?

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t consider it a starter light because once you use this light you won’t ever want to use any other. It’s the light that most SOG addicts dream of owning. It’s more expensive than most, but it’s worth the price in my opinion. It’s very high quality and is extremely easy to use.

  22. Jo says:

    Just wondering where can these nail lamps be purchased from ? thanks

  23. ROcio says:

    Hello….i wanted to know for LED 3W lamp what would be the curing time…Tks.

  24. Ab says:

    I saw a Led lamp 12w from promed, not too expensive, they say “LED-compatible products for curing in the wavelength range 395-405 nm) is that ok for Gelish, or it is better to by a classic uv lampe 36w? (The same brend, promed) (I’m in France)

  25. kim says:

    Would you recommend the 18g or the 5-45 led?
    Thx

  26. Leigh says:

    I’ve just ordered a paris glam 3W LED lamp online and now I’m worries that the wattage sounds too low. Do you know anything about this?
    Thanks

    • Tastyredcherry says:

      Leigh, please write a review of the 3W lamp when you will try it. And could you also write about what gel you ised. Thank you.
      I know that Gelicious offees a 3W lamp so I guess it should be enough to cure gel? Of course it would take longer? But I’m only guessing. Maybe someone could explain it?

  27. Alicia Galanis says:

    Looking for some advice. I get gel Manis at salons often and they usually last about 2 weeks. I recently bought a36 watt uv lamp and the gelish system…same as I get at salons… and the polish starts peeling off within 2or3 days. I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong. Would led lamp make a difference? Any other advice is welcome!

    • Andrea says:

      There could be a number of reasons, but most likely is that the nail bed isn’t prepped properly. Your nails need to be completely free of oils for the foundation to get a good bond.

  28. Alicia Galanis says:

    So using led or uv wouldn’t make a difference in length of the manicure lasting?

  29. Alicia Galanis says:

    Ok. .. Is there a stronger uv lamp? I have 36wattv is that a typical strength used in salons? They just don’t don’t seem to get as strong. Instead of chipping like they do when they are done at a salon they peel when done at home. Thankyou so much for all your input!

    • Andrea says:

      I’m sorry I don’t know much about wattage and its affect on curing to be honest, and can’t really provide much advice here. My Thermal Spa UV lamp is 45 watts and it works great. I’ve heard that sometimes with lower wattage you have to cure longer.

  30. Keyla Mondragon says:

    Hi was just wondering if you can help me by any chance. On Christmas I got a 42watt proffesional nail dryer as a gift , non-branded, it has a fan it also hss 5 bulbs,so im just trying to figure out if its a good uv nail lamp, ,because I really want a lamp that can cure basically every gel like ..sshellac, uv nail acrilic gel .Im new to all this so your help will be very helpful to me thank you.

    • Andrea says:

      It’s hard to know exactly without knowing the brand. I would think it should work fine.

    • MARY gaughan says:

      hi i am a novice just like you and would like to know which lamp is suitable to cure all systems eg. gel polishes gelac products acrylic overlays etc i purchased a 6watt led /uv lamp at the smartpolish stand at the rds beauty show and fins that it cures its own brand and the gellac brands only. i was told that i would need a uv lamp for gels but i am confused now as i thought my lamp was compatible with both uv and led products. please help . mary

  31. Shannon says:

    Thanks for this post! I’m a newbie to gel nails and am still trying to figure out this LED/UV light thing…I found a bunch of good reviews on amazon for the USpicy 18W LED nail dryer – was wondering if you have heard of this brand? Usually sells for $200 but I got one on ebay for $75, hoping it works!? I bought gelish brand, it claims to work for their products.

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t personally have experience with this nail lamp, but I have heard good things about it. :) Be sure to post back and let us know how your experience with it is.

    • Sandy says:

      Hi Shannon! What were your thoughts on the Uspicy LED lamp? I’m debating on buying one as well!

      • rachael says:

        I have just purchased the Uspicy 12w im waiting for it to be delivered to use it. I have been using a UV 36watt lamp So i cant wait to try LED. Andrea i have been following your page for ages now i love what you do and have taught me everything THANK YOU. I will post back about the Uspicy led light

  32. Susan says:

    I have a question. I am an avid nail painter & am just now looking into a nail dryer. So my question is, what type of dryer works best for basic acrylic polishes? I appreciate your help!

  33. Erika Gutierrez says:

    Hello, I recently used a Royal two handed UV lift and liked it a lot, but now I am looking to purchase my own light but don’t know which way to go, either led or UV. Is UV worse? And does LED work on Sally Hansen and opi? I saw an OPI led light I really liked. But not sure if anyone has tried before and how they have liked it…?

    • Andrea says:

      Most brands are LED compatible these days. Sally Hansen and OPI are both LED compatible. I would go with an LED lamp over a UV one – saves a lot of time.

  34. Jenn says:

    Did you have the Thermal Spa 45 watt or 35 watt UV lamp? I have been looking and trying to make a decision about which UV lamp to choose…so many to choose from and so many scattered reviews on amazon.

    Thanks!

  35. Keyla Mondragon says:

    Im debating on returning my uv light for a led light because I want a lamp that can cure gel ,shellac, and acrylic uv gel. Can anyone help me out should I keep it o change it???

  36. Suzanne says:

    Hi Andrea, I am currently saving to get an 18g lamp. I have recently noticed a 6G on Amazon which is more expensive and i am not sure why. What is the difference between the two lamps.

  37. Suzanne says:

    Will do thank you so much for the advice :-)

  38. Sam says:

    Hi, please could you tell me if the gellux led lamp will cure opi gel and how long it takes?? I want to use opi gel but cant afford the opi branded led lamp? Which is best to use with opi gel? Thanks

  39. Devie says:

    Hi.. I’m tossing in between buying the 18W LED lamp with the one that you recommend (18G LED lamp)..whats the difference? does it matter if i only use the gelish brand? Thanks..

  40. sophia says:

    Hey I read your actual review of the 18g lamp I was just wondering if you still have a good experience with it? I want to buy it from your amazon link and it does have way more positive than neg reviews but the negative ones seem to be the same issue with the cord shorting out? Have you have any issues with yours or anything else with it? I can’t see myself spending the 400 sallys has it listed for, Im half tempted to find a friend with a cosmetology license and see how much a store like cosmo prof would have it for strictly for the warranty but at the same time if the one on amazon is just as good quality not some return or something and thats why they can sell it for cheaper then Id rather just go with that one. I know you are just a consumer too so I was just wondering your opinion after some time as gone by since you’ve bought it :) I love your site. right now I’m using the sephora by opi which is good, but I can’t do my whole hand which sucks. Ive had it for a year and half now and it works fine I love it but the fact I can only do 4 fingers at a time makes it annoying. I want to step it up a bit.

    • Andrea says:

      I’m still in love with this lamp and have had no issues with it at all. I didn’t want to shell out $400 for it either and the price on Amazon seems to keep coming down, though you do risk not having the warranty upheld by the manufacturer. You should still have 30 days to return it to the seller if there are immediate problems with it. :)

  41. Julie says:

    Good news! LED lamps DO cure CND Shellac polish! The lamp I just bought from Amazon is called USpicy, 12 watts, $40 and it works great. What I did was Shellac base coat 30 sec, 1 coat of color “Hot Pop Pink” 60 sec, 1 coat of color “Moonlight And Roses” 90 sec, then top coat 90 sec x2. I totally guessed at how much time to use but this manicure is perfect. It has only been a week but there are no signs of any problems. I highly recommend the LED lamps.

  42. Angela says:

    I have the IBD Jet 1000 and it doesn’t seem to be curing my gelish. I’m thinking of getting the Gelish 18G. Do you think that will work for both my Axxium and Gelish?

  43. Thanks so much for this…I had a question, I was thinking of getting into IBD gel polishes, have you had any experience with them? If so, im getting the thermal spa led light and wanting to know if they cure well

    • Andrea says:

      Ibd is a great brand. I will have more swatches of those coming soon. They should cure in the Thermal Spa LED lamp, though I have not personally tried it.

  44. Kwerki Kirsty says:

    Hi,
    I’m swapping to Gelish from Gellux but still have quite a few Gellux, I’ve not tested it with the LED 18g Gelish lamp & was curing with UV before.
    I was just wondering if you had cured Gellux under the Gelish LED 18g lamp?
    If so did you use the 30sec curing time stated by the Gellux brand?

  45. Lumenstar says:

    Nice to see LED technology is growing in different areas

    Thanks
    Lumenstar Team

  46. Nicole says:

    Hi, Im considering buying the Gelish 5-45 lamp…. but I’d like to use gelish structure and the hard LED gels aswell. On their website they suggest not to. however I cannot afford the 18G lamp … should I buy the 5-45 lamp?

  47. JULIE says:

    How often to UV light bulbs need to be changed and also how long do polishes stay good for? I have had a UV lamp and some polishes for 3.5 years. I go through periods where I dont use the kit simply bc I want a different color on my nails….I just recenty ordered new gelish base/top coats because my polish was lifting on the edges after 3-4 days and then i was having to redo those nails which is annoying. Do you have an amazon link for legit bulbs if they should be purchased?

    • Andrea says:

      On average the UV bulbs need changed about every 2 years, but it can vary depending on the lamp and the frequency of use. The polishes themselves are supposed to have a shelf life of 18-24 months, but I’ve had many of mine for much longer than that and they are still fine. You can use gel polish thinner if they start to thicken up.

  48. JULIE says:

    Where would be a good place to order new bulbs? I have a 36w uv light…

    • Andrea says:

      I’ve never ordered new bulbs. I don’t know if they vary in size depending on the lamp. You can probably find them on Amazon or ebay though.

  49. JULIE says:

    One more question…I though about ordering the thermal spa led lamp since it was one you recommended. does it cure red carpet, gelish and opi brands? I’m sure you have this posted somewhere on your sight…you can always direct me to that as well

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t own this lamp so I can’t guarantee it will work with any specific brands, but I know many people that do own this lamp and I’m pretty sure it’s compatible with all of the major brands of gel polish.

  50. Emily says:

    Hey! So after much research and months n months of debating iv finely bought the Gellish 18g LED lamp!! Hoping not to be disappointed! But after reading most of the gel colours out there nearly all cure under LED n UV so I hope iv made the right decision!
    Thanks to all your information it was a great help!
    But wondering if you could help with one more thing.. Where abouts do you buy your colours from? Do you buy a job lot? As buying separately is very expensive!
    I have invested in rock star! Can’t wait to start using them! Iv found them very cheap on e-bay but not do much the gel colours, was wondering if you could help?
    Many thanks
    Emily

    • Andrea says:

      Congrats! You will love the 18G lamp! :) I buy my colors from Amazon mostly. I bought a lot off of ebay once but many of the polishes were thick and goopy so I probably wouldn’t do that again.

  51. Rachel says:

    Hi. I have recently bought CND shellac top, base and colour coats as I had my sisters UV lamp to use. I think the lamp isn’t working properly or isn’t strong enough as it is very old and has been sat in the loft for years. I want to buy another lamp but can’t decide between LED or UV. I’m swaying towards UV as I already have the CND. I was told in a shop that CND isn’t LED compatible is this correct and if so, could you please name some more gel brands that ARE UV compatible please

    many thanks

  52. Rachel says:

    lovely thank you for your help xx

  53. Katie says:

    Hi! Love your site! I love my no chip manicures but don’t want to keep paying $30. I’m looking to invest in a lamp. Should I go Gelish 18G for $200 or 5-45 for $145 to start out with? Thanks in advance!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Katie! That is really a personal preference and depends on how much you want to spend to start out. They will both get the job done fine, but the 18G has some luxury features that the other doesn’t.

  54. Katie says:

    Thanks! I have another one for you…Amazon has Fantastic Four package of Gelish foundation, top it off, ph bond, and nourish for $30-full sized bottles. Does this seem legit or a knock off?

  55. Katie says:

    Thanks!

  56. Andrea says:

    I know many people that have allergies to certain gel polishes and this sounds like an allergic reaction. I believe Shellac and Ink are two brands that most of the people I know with allergies can wear. I’ll ask about others.

  57. Patricia says:

    Hi. Im new to all this nail business but eventually plan on having my own small nail bar. Ive been doing basic manicures from home for awhile now but would like to move into gel and acrylics. My question is what kind of lamp should i be looking for? #clueless

    • Andrea says:

      It depends on the polish you will be using. Most brands will cure in an LED lamp and I would go that way since the cure time is much faster, but if you want to use a brand like CND Shellac you would need UV.

      • Patricia says:

        Thank you for help Andrea. I think I’ll go with the LED lamp first and see how i get on. Wish me luck and I’m sure I’ll be back with a few for questions. Thanks again.

  58. Patricia says:

    Back again! Quicker than i expected but have one more question. What sort of watt should I be looking for?

  59. Joy Spiers says:

    Led and UV are both UV, just a different light source

  60. Kristie Hill says:

    Hi. i own the CND UV light, do you know if I can use Sally Hansen gel polish with it?

  61. Lindy says:

    I have the thermal spa 30w. Love it! I thought I would like that it’s big enought for two hands but I have to do one hand at a time.

  62. Chendra Johnson says:

    I have gelish nail polish, and a uv lamp. I love it!!!! But my question is can I mix and match the base coat with the colors? Or do I have to use all one brand? I want to get more colors but didn’t know if I had to get the Foundation and Top coat of that brand.

  63. jessica says:

    I prefer uv. I have a thermaspa uv. I like uv better because it cures everything while led doesn’t. Also if you put the gel on a little too thick led will burn and get hot on your nails, while I’ve never had that problem with uv.

  64. Jacqueline White says:

    Can anyone please answer the following question !!! At some nail beauty salons they have a lamp which hardens your nails so the varnish doesn’t scratch off, I would like to know what the machine is please & can you put varnish on your own nails and put them under a lamp which dries & hardens the nails, also can you use any varnish or does it have to be Gel varnish. I would appreciate any information on this, thank you

    • Andrea says:

      These are UV and LED lamps as described in the article. You must use gel polish with these lamps as regular nail lacquer will not dry/harden in the lamps.

  65. Anna says:

    Hello Andrea! Do you follow Doug Schoon on Facebook? He recently posted some very interesting info on LED lamps and how long they last. You can check out his website too http://www.schoonscientific.com

  66. Hayley says:

    Hi, I’m looking to buy a lamp just to do my own nails as i cant afford to pay salon prices at the rate i need mine done, but I love having gels on. I’m probably going to get a UV lamp because they are cheaper, but i just wanted to check, will UV lamps cure Gelish polish? I know there were some comments about darker colours not curing and stuff and i got a little confused in middle there! there’s a few starter kits around with a UV lamp and a few colours but then obviously i’d buy individual colours online so i ust want to make sure i can buy other colours that will work before i buy a lamp. Also, Is there any specific voltage that works best with the UV lamps at all?
    Thank you :)

  67. Jeannie says:

    Our salons (3) have been using the VOGUE PROFESSIONAL UV lamps for years and more recently their LED lamps. They have great quality lamps at very affordable prices. They also have an on-staff nail technician that will give you advice once you purchase one of their lamps. I know that they can be purchased from BARGAINSOURCES on Amazon or Ebay. At least we know the company has been around for quite sometimes because they use to have a salesrep calling on us for a while. Hope this helps.

  68. Kim Wallis says:

    Hi Andrea, don’t suppose you have a spreadsheet for gels that you use with extensions/enhancements/sculpting that tells you which brands cure with UV light and which cure with LED? I have a Gelish 18G lamp for my Gelish polishes, and no UV lamp. I went on a gel extension course last week and we used NSI gels with a UV light. I commented that things would be much quicker with a LED lamp and was told it wouldn’t cure with LED! Also some gels are soak off and some are buff off. Its a minefield to a newbie nail tech!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Kim, I don’t know much about sculpting gels yet. I start my formal training in January :)

      • Kim Wallis says:

        Hi Andrea & Lizzy, thanks for your replies. I have been trawling the internet for info all afternoon, and i think i have made some progress. Most hard gels are only curable with UV lamps because of the wide band of UV wavelengths, 315nm to 400nm. LED UV lamps which are a much newer technology have a narrow wavelength band, 400nm to 410nm. Manufacturers of gels have working ranges for their products and most were created before the LED UV light was introduced. So the curable range was wide. Therefore to have an LED curable hard gel it must be as recent as the LED lamp to cure within the narrow band. Most of my info came from NSI website and Doug Schoon. Sorry if i have taken this thread in a bit of a different direction! BTW your Gelish swatches on this website are fantastic. Wouldn’t dream of buying a Gelish polish without first coming here to have a proper look at the colour :0)

    • lizzy says:

      I use OPI Axxium sculpting gel and have been using sculpting gels for over 7 years now. I have always used a uv light and have never spent a lot of money on them and they have all been great. I am just about to my a LED lamp as I am having some problems with some of my soak off gels not lasting but i think as you build up for supplies the only ones you will need to check are your soak offs. I use my UV lamp for every brand and you will find once you start working in the industry once you find brands that you like and work for you , you will stick with those. Hope this helps..

  69. Kim Wallis says:

    Sorry, dont understand your reply!

  70. Soenie says:

    Hi Andrea. I am a newbie to gels and I have a 9w UV lamp called Rapidcure with some UV/LED soak off gels from Planet nails called precision, given as a gift. I recently bought the 3.1 Pro Peggy sage UV gel to extend my nails then use another brand of color gel but noticed that on the product(Peggy sage) it says to use a 36w for curing in 2 secs. I just want a lamp that can be used to cure any gel. Since I have a 9w, can I make the curing time longer? If so, how long? Do I need a new lamp?

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Soenie, do you mean 2 minutes rather than 2 seconds? I recommend a 36 watt UV lamp for optimal curing. You can try curing longer with your 9w lamp, but I don’t know the exact amount of time that would be required.

  71. Soenie says:

    It’s me again. In my last post, i meant two minutes of curing. I have one more question for now. After building my nail, do I have to apply a base gel before applying the gel polish of my choice?

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t sculpt nails, so I’m not sure. I would think so.

    • lizzy says:

      Depends on the brand. I use gelavish polish over sculptured nails and I don’t use one but if I use this on regular nails in requires a base coat. Make sure you get a gel taht you can put on top of gels or acrylics as a lot of soak off gels will peel right off. Check with your sales rep or supplier.

    • lizzy says:

      Inm is the brand that makes great Gel colors to go over sculptured nails.

  72. michelle says:

    Does anyone here use the Gel II nail polish & if so what led light do you use?

  73. Tiffani says:

    Whats the difference between the watts? im going to get the kit from aliexpress.com but dont know if i should get a 9w or 34w. Please help :-)

    • Andrea says:

      In my experience, higher wattage usually amounts to a better cure. The lower powered lamps often don’t cure as well and/or require a longer curing time.

  74. Yaya says:

    I have a 1.5w uv little portable lamp but it doesnt seem to work at all… can someone tell me how much time do i have to cure it?? I really dont know if im doing it right lol…

  75. kate says:

    this was so helpful! and 40 bucks! mine! :D

  76. paula says:

    What are your thoughts on the dryers that combine uv and led? Thanks!

  77. Fefe says:

    The lamp only does a curing process and the cleaning solution is actually what drys the polish right???

  78. amy says:

    I have been using the geisha led lamp for 2 years now and not once have I had an issue with curing. Mind you I always let it cure for 30 so for alternate polish brands. Have have used Sally Hanson, gelish, shellac, Jessica, and many unknown brands. The lamp may be more expensive but it works perfectly. I constantly have people or suppliers complaining about it not working for other brands yet speaking from experience that is not the case. Also I had a supplier try and explain to me that the lamp is both up and led which is a total load of you know what. All I can say is try a longer setting because it’s the absolute best machine I have ever used for this purpose.

  79. Vkbolt says:

    Just had a fresh manicure yesterday..this morning the color on top is completey a different color..gel manicure..any idea what would cause this and what should I expect to hear from my salon..thanks for any help

    • Andrea says:

      It could be a number of things, but normally it’s either a polish color that fades or a chemical reaction to another product that you are using (lotions, soaps, etc).

  80. Chris says:

    FASCINATED w/ all the great info – Also tired of paying $200 @ my salon ever 2 wks for mani-pedis, would rather gv the same salon that money towards massages instead — and hv been scouring the web for which light to buy? I’m confused when I read the LED is what the “industry is evolving to” – so I’m hesitant to go w/ a UV investment if it’s ~on its way out~ but I love the Shellac (seems to be the 1 that stays on best as I’ve had the salon try many brands on me) – but Shellac requires UV and UV is the most universal according to what I’m reading.. Also, I see over & over that if you use anthr UV lamp on Shellac other than the CND light it will peel and won’t last, beware, yada, yada — Tempted to try the mid-point MelodySuzie UV but now THOROUGHLY confused & chicken… Do you feel confident doing Shellac w/ the MD36w UV? Or should I fork it out to do the CND light? If confident w/ the MD36w UV, can you pls share what the appropriate cook-time procedure/all steps would be for Shellac w/ the MD36w UV? Thanks greatly, your site & all the interchangeable feedback of others is awesome!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Chris. Shellac is now curable in LED, but it requires a 60 second cure instead of 30 seconds. I would purchase an LED lamp instead of UV for at-home use because the curing times are so much faster. I bought the new CND LED lamp and love it! I haven’t reviewed it yet, but if you want to invest in Shellac you can’t go wrong with the CND lamp. I would recommend getting an LED lamp that’s at least 24 watts – the MS lamps are great too and are more affordable.

  81. Karolyn says:

    I’m looking at the melodie Susie 24 watt one, just concerned about the lifespan. It says on Amazon 5000 when I was reading others they have a lifespan of 40000 or 50000. Hoping it was just a typo! Let me know what you think about this?

  82. Karolyn says:

    Karolyn
    JUL 28, 2015 @ 20:31:57
    I’m looking at the melodie Susie 24 watt one, just concerned about the lifespan. It says on Amazon 5000 when I was reading others they have a lifespan of 40000 or 50000. Hoping it was just a typo! Let me know what you think about this?

    REPLY

  83. Dawn says:

    Hi. I am looking at doing my own nails at home now. I am under the impression that the CND Shellac polish comes off easier that Gel polish. Is that true?

  84. Dawn says:

    Thanks. I think i will start with CND. Just looking at lamps and i appreciate your reviews. I am planning on uv over a led lamp.

  85. Jan says:

    Hi. While searching ebay I found lamps listed as ‘LED/CCFL’, also lamps that seem to have both LED and UV combined. Any thoughts on either? I’m merely looking to do my nails at home with a polish that will be dried/cured quickly. I also prefer black or darker colors and saw an earlier post referencing a longer curing time for darker colors, which is fine. I’m new to all this gel nail polish although I’ve been looking into buying a lamp for the past year or so. Thanks for all the great info, it’s much appreciated!!!

  86. shirley says:

    new to this. Why do we need a UV lamp? What is ” cure” ? I hv “normal” nail polish from thrift shop, do they still need lamp?

    • Andrea says:

      Regular nail lacquer doesn’t need a lamp. The UV and LED lamps are needed for gel polishes only. They will not dry/harden (aka cure) without the lamp.

  87. Pat says:

    Hi Everyone! Andrea you are doing a great job at answering everyone’s questions!!! Thought I would jump in and give a few helpful tips. I am a licensed manicurist and esthetician and previous salon owner for 25+ years. Presently own an online business. To the previous poster Jan, a CCFL is a compact fluorescent bulb. The bulb goes around in circles instead of straight tubes/bulbs. Supposed to be more energy efficient. Works just fine. Ok, let me say that I sell a UV/LED gel lamp. (Not that I am here to promote my units, just that I know about them) I only sell one UV/LED gel lamp on my website. The unit works in UV mode “or” LED mode. Best of both worlds. So for everyone who is doing their nails at home, here are my words of wisdom: Only buy a UV lamp with a minimum of 36 watts, anything less is a waste of your time and money. Units do not need to be a name brand, Example, CND, Gelish, OPI You are paying for their advertising! I personally think units that are UV “or” LED are great because it gives you the freedom to use any polish or gel.

    Tip #1 After applying a gel polish or a hard gel, a sticky residue remains. You can remove this sticky residue with alcohol, no need to buy the expensive removers!
    Tip #2 Instead of spending a fortune on gel polish $15+ a bottle, purchase any polish you like based on your color preference, from the dollar store or where ever. Purchase Star Nail Universal Top coat, around $13.00 Polish you nails with any nail polish and let “thoroughly” dry. Apply Star Nail Universal Top Coat and use any UV or LED lamp. Works with both lamps.
    Tip #3 Any time you find a person who has the courage and professionalism, like Andrea, who says I don’t know, I am not sure, I haven’t tried… follow them… you will get the truth!!!

    I will post more tips at a later time.

    • Jan says:

      Awesome, thx! Do you know if the gel polish helps with nail strength? My nails, from as far back as I can remember, have always been thin but not brittle. Mom even took me to the dermatologist when I was young (which now sounds crazy to me..lol!) I don’t even want them to grow very long, just enough say for a pretty french manicure. Any suggestions for an overlay or thoughts on gel polish for added strength will be appreciated! Thx again for all the helpful info :)

      • Pat says:

        Gel polish would give your nails some additional strength. If you have thin nails the constant removal of the gel polish may not be so good for your nails. You may want to try a hard gel or a builder gel overlay that stays on your nails, you don’t remove it like polish. It is hard and would give your nails the strength you are looking for. You probably would only need one or two thin coats of the hard gel. Ha, when I was young I used to drink that horrible Knox gelatin wishing it would improve my nails..lol

    • Andrea says:

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Pat!

  88. Pat says:

    Sounds like you are very new to all of this fingernail stuff. It is great you are asking questions and wanting to learn. Hard gels do need a light. I have acrylic nails (prefer over gel) I do my own nails at home out on the deck when the weather permits. I don’t do them inside because of the smell of the acrylic. So during the months of Jan and Feb as is way too cold to be outside, I coat my nails with hard gel. I coat the new growth and also go right over the acrylic. When it warms up again I go back to acrylic applying right over gel. Works just fine. I use Starpro odor free UV gel. http://nailsmag.epubxp.com/i/113703-apr-2013/30 Star Nail products are for professionals, however you may be able to find on internet. Andrea may be able to suggest another brand to you.

    You may want to go to a salon and have them apply the hard gel the first time. (make sure they understand you do not want gel “polish”) This way you can watch and see how to apply the hard gel product. Also you will see how long it takes for your nails to grow out. You may not need to have them done that often. If they apply a regular polish (not gel polish), you can easily change it when needed. So you may be able to go 4-6-8 weeks before the hard gel really needs to be filled in. They may not be perfect going this long, but you can file and polish them during this time. You will have more of an idea of how fast your nails grow and how well the product stays on your nails. Then if you choose to try hard gels or gel polish yourself at home, you will be more informed. Doing your nails at home is kind of a pain in the neck, so before you purchase a light and a gel, trying a salon first may be a good idea. Who knows, you may not like the results or you may love it? If you love it and decide to do them at home have salon do your nails first, you then can fill them in. That would be easier until you get the hang of applying gels.

  89. Pat says:

    Hi Andrea. How was the vacation? Hope you had lots of fun!!!

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