2014 Holiday Gift Ideas: LED & UV Nail Lamp Recommendations

I hope you have been finding my holiday gift ideas series useful.  Today I’m going to share my recommendations for LED and UV nail lamps.  I personally prefer using an LED lamp for the faster curing times, but there are reasons why you may want or need a UV lamp.

Differences between LED & UV lamps:

  • Compatibility: UV lamps will cure ALL gel polishes, while LED lamps will only cure LED specific brands.  Always check the label of your bottle, or the manufacturers instructions to confirm whether a polish is LED curable.  Most gel polish brand today are LED curable, but there are still a handful that aren’t.
  • Curing Time: The typical curing times are 120 seconds with a UV lamp, and 30 seconds with an LED lamp.
  • Bulb Life: You will need to replace the bulbs in a UV lamp periodically, but LED lamp bulbs last the lifetime of the lamp.  Many LED lamps boast of lifespans of 5+ years.
  • Affordability: LED lamps are typically a little more expensive, though prices are coming down.  When you consider the cost of replacement UV bulbs, paying a little more up front is reasonable.

Things to consider when deciding on a lamp:

  • Wattage:  It’s said that wattage of LED lamps doesn’t matter as much as the wavelength, but I’ve found that often times the lower powered lamps don’t cure some polishes as well, particularly darker or heavily pigmented colors.  I recommend buying LED lamps that are at least 12 watts or higher.  For UV lamps, I recommend 36 watts or higher.
  • Size:  There are lots of sizing options from portable 1-finger lamps, up to larger lamps that will fit two hands at once.  Small portable lamps are nice for traveling, but for everyday use I personally prefer a lamp that will fit my whole hand.  I typically do my nails one hand at a time, so I don’t need a lamp that fits both hands (or feet) at once.  I don’t care for the smaller 4-finger lamps that require you to cure the thumbs separately, so all of my lamp recommendations today will fit your full hand.
  • Budget:  You can get good quality lamps in the $50 range, and even better ones if you’re willing to spend more.  There are less expensive lamps too, but they generally have lower wattage and don’t cure all brands as well.  If you consider the cost of a manicure at a salon, it’s worth it to spend a little more for a better quality lamp that you can use for years to come.
  • Usage:  What do you plan to cure in your lamp?  If you plan to use any products that aren’t LED curable, a UV lamp will be required.  Some builder gels and other professional nail treatments are UV only, as well as some polish brands such as CND Shellac.

LED Nail Lamp Recommendations

Gelish 18G LED Lamp:  If you follow my blog, you probably already know that the Gelish 18G is my lamp of choice.  It’s one of the more expensive LED lamps on the market, but the quality and performance are exceptional.  The 18G lamp has a motion sensor that automatically detects your hand and turns on the lamp.  It has a little shield that slides down over the hand to protect your eyes from the light.  The base is magnetic and can be easily removed for cleaning.


  • Retail Price: $259.99 ($180 on Amazon)
  • Wattage: 36 watts
  • Size: Fits one full hand
  • Timer: You can set this lamp for 5 seconds, 20 seconds or 30 seconds.  It cures the Gelish base in 5 seconds, most colors in 20-30 seconds, and the top coat in 20 seconds.
  • Warranty:  1 year manufacturer warranty.  FYI – Gelish will not honor the warranty of lamps that aren’t purchased through authorized dealers (including Amazon).

Gelish 5-45 LED Lamp:  This lamp doesn’t have all of the bells & whistles of the 18G, but it has great curing power and is a little more affordable. It’s an 18 watt lamp, and requires a slightly longer curing time of 45 seconds.  It’s smaller and more lightweight than the 18G.  The Gelish Pro Kit includes this lamp, and the kit is actually for sale on Amazon at a price lower than the lamp by itself!


  • Retail Price: $149.95 ($139 on Amazon – or – Buy the Gelish Pro Kit for $129)
  • Wattage: 18 watts
  • Size: Fits one full hand
  • Timer: A single 45-second timer button
  • Warranty:  90 day manufacturer warranty.  FYI – Gelish will not honor the warranty of lamps that aren’t purchased through authorized dealers (including Amazon).

Melody Susie 12W Violetili LED Lamp: I recently reviewed this lamp and was very impressed with it.  This lamp is very affordable and has great curing power.  I tested it with several darker colors and they all cured completely in just 30 seconds.  It’s very lightweight and portable as well.  Watch my video review here.


  • Retail Price: $89.99 ($46 on Amazon)
  • Wattage: 12 watts
  • Size: Fits one full hand
  • Timer: 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds or 30 minutes for continual use
  • Warranty: 1 year manufacturer warranty

UV Nail Lamp Recommendations

Melody Susie 36W Violeteer UV Lamp:  I recently received this lamp and will be posting a full review of it soon.  It’s a great quality lamp that’s super affordable.  It has a sliding tray that you can use to slide your hand in and out of the lamp with ease, so that you don’t accidentally bump your nails on the bulbs.


  • Retail Price: $63.98 ($25 on Amazon)
  • Wattage: 36 watts
  • Size: Fits one full hand
  • Timer: 120 seconds, 180 seconds or continuous
  • Warranty: 1 year manufacturer warranty

Thermal Spa UV Lamp:  This is the first lamp that I ever owned.  It’s a large two-hand lamp that has served me well.  I still use it when I make new swatch sticks, and for any polishes that are UV only.  I haven’t had to change the bulbs yet thankfully.  Thermal Spa also has some one-hand versions as well.


  • Retail Price: $149 ($45 on Amazon)
  • Wattage: 45 watts
  • Size: Fits two full hands
  • Timer: 120 seconds, 180 seconds or continuous
  • Warranty: Not sure

Royal Nails Professional UV Lamp: I don’t personally own this lamp, but I know many people who do and they all love it.


  • Retail Price: $229 ($50 on Amazon)
  • Wattage: 54 watts
  • Size: Fits two full hands (takes up a lot of space!)
  • Timer: 90 seconds, 120 seconds, 180 seconds, 240 seconds, 300 seconds
  • Warranty: Not sure

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18 Responses

  1. Cristina says:

    Have you ever considered the ccfl + led lamp?
    It seems it can cure all polish gels and all gels

    • Megan Russell says:

      I was hoping there would be at least one on this list. The problem I see with CCFL + LED lamps is that the CCFL bulbs are not replaceable. So, when the CCFL is no longer producing UV it will be an LED lamp only. They are priced great and most have great reviews on Amazon though.

    • Andrea says:

      I don’t have any knowledge or experience with that type of lamp.

  2. Megan Russell says:

    Surprised you do not have the SensatioNail kit in your LED list. It’s only $35-$39 and everyone I’ve talked to loves how it performs.

    • Andrea says:

      I included the kit in my list of gel polish starter kits yesterday, but I didn’t list the lamp separately in this list because it’s only a 7 watt 4-finger lamp.

  3. Arlene Shumaker says:

    Do you use Shellac with the UV lamp you already own? I know every company would like you to buy their lamp, but I thought Shellac only cured in their lamp! I really don’t want to drop $160.00 on that lamp if I don’t need to.

  4. sheina says:

    I was wondering if you have heard of the uspicy led light. It is a crescent shape.

    I was wondering if it is at all possible for you to do a review for this light.

    Thank you.

  5. Melissa says:

    I got the Melody Suzie 12W LED Lamp for Christmas and so far I am loving it!! It’s my first LED. I put in on my Amazon WL because of your review back in Sept.

  6. Alison says:

    Hi Andrea,

    Are you going to do a 2015 guide? I’d love to get a new LED lamp, but I don’t know which to put on my wish list.

  7. Jacci says:

    Hi there,

    I have 3 lamps and would like your opinion on which is the better one to use. Id rather try one offine first before buying a new lamp. Thanks
    So firstly i have a:
    -Opallac 7watt led lamp. (4 finger)
    -Superior uv lamp white 36watt
    -Gel curing lamp sk-818 uv 36 watt

    Im just so confused as to which lamp to keep out and use. Please help!

    • Andrea says:

      Hi Jacci – I’m not familiar with any of the brands, but the second and third sound like they’re both 36w UV lamps and they should cure any polish. Go with one of those.

  8. Indira says:

    Hello!! Can you please tell me if the wattage of a led lamp is important when curing a builder gel that is led compatible? I’m assuming the gel should cure all the same whether it be a 7w or a 36w led lamp, am I right?

    • Andrea says:

      Wavelength and light dispersion are also factors, but in general an LED curable builder gel should cure at any wattage – it just may take longer at a lower wattage.

  9. Sue Means says:

    Gelish says it cures in 30 sec with LED, but it never says which wattage. Their lamps even come in varying wattages. What wattage applies to the 30 sec?