Nail Lamps LED Vs. UV Light: What Should You Pick?

There has been a constant debate on the best nail lamps to use to cure your nail gel for every nail polish lover. Do you go for the traditional UV lamps or the lightning-quick LED lights?

Contrary to some misconceptions, both lamps emit ultraviolet rays. UV rays are important in the hardening or curing of nail gel.

Are you confused between LED and UV light? While both types of lamps have similarities, some differences serve as bases of preference for different people.


Differences Between LED and UV Lamps

Here are the differences between LED and UV Lamps and their unique properties:

Duration to Cure Gel Nails

Nail Lamps LED vs. UV - Curing Gel Nail

The most noticeable differences between the two types of nail lamps are how fast they harden gel nails.

LED Lamps

Waiting for nail polish to dry off after application is a tedious process. Without waiting for the required time, the polish doesn’t harden well and can smear.

This lamp is a faster upgrade to UV lamps. It can cure nail polish completely in a few minutes. Within 20-30 seconds, the LED lights harden the gel.


UV Lamps

UV lamps take more time to cure nail gel. Depending on the bulb’s strength, a UV light can take up to 2-2½ minutes to fix. However, it provides the same results as LED lights. Note that it won’t work on regular nail polish.


Emission of Ultraviolet Rays

Ultraviolet light is a type of electromagnetic radiation. Its natural source is from the sun. They also get them from an artificial source.

UV lights have chemical properties that cause objects to glow up. The UV lamps emit Ultraviolet light.

LED nail lamps for gels also produce UV light using the LED bulb technology. They, however, produce light of different wavelengths.

Both lamps, however, mainly produce artificial UV light. It means that the light they emit is not strong enough to cause serious health issues as long as there is no overexposure.


Working Mechanism

The working mechanisms of Nail Lamps LED vs. UV are different. This difference is why one is faster than the other:

UV Lamps

UV Nail Lamp Working Mechanism

UV light is emitted in different wavelengths. It is the wavelengths that determine light intensity. This intensity affects how well the nail gel cures. A wavelength of 340-380 nm is sufficient for curing.

The UV lamps contain fluorescent bulbs. Apart from the wavelength, the bulbs in the lamp also affect intensity. The bulb wattage and the number of bulbs are the critical factors.

Sometimes, some of the bulbs get weaker than others and reduce light intensity. The bulbs generate heat and cause a reaction to the nail gel.

The bulb’s light intensity determines how long it will take to place your nails under the lamp.

Different Types of Gel Nails


LED Lamps

LED Nail Lamp Working Mechanism

LED lamps also have a similar working mechanism. The major difference is the wavelength of UV light produced.

Due to improvements in technology, LED lamps can produce a wavelength of 385-395 nanometers. This increase in wavelength is the reason why the LED cures faster.

For both lamps, the gel is a significant factor. The curing gel has chemical components that make it react to light and heat.

These chemicals are known as photoinitiators. The reactivity of the photoinitiators in the curing gel depends on the intensity and wavelength of the UV light.

Under the proper exposure, these chemicals undergo polymerization, which helps the gel to harden. It also gives off heat which is why your hands feel warm during curing.

Can Acrylic Nails Dry Without UV Light?



Another difference between UV and LED nail lamps is their durability. As earlier stated, UV lamps make use of fluorescent bulbs.

You have to change these bulbs every 4-6 months, depending on how often you use the lamp. This periodic replacement is needed because the bulbs have an average lifespan of 1,000 hours.

LED lamps last longer. The durability of LED lights is a result of the highly resistant diode used to manufacture them.

The LED light lasts for over 50,000 hours. It means that there is no need to change the lights.

Can You Paint Over Gel Nails?



Nail Lamps LED vs. UV - Cost

When comparing nail lamps LED vs. UV, LED lamps generally cost more than UV lamps. However, if you calculate the value on a long-term basis, the cost of the LED lamps is reasonable. It lasts longer and performs faster.

The UV lamp is less expensive. The UV lamp is a budget-friendly option if you are starting up a small nail salon or buying for personal use and don’t want to spend too much. However, you have to change the bulbs when due to maintain their efficiency.


One common question about nail lamps is if LED lamps can cure a UV gel. In situations like that, it depends solely on the manufacturer of the nail gel.

You can check the suggestions of the nail polish manufacturer. There are different nail polish and gel manufacturers, and they consistently use technology to develop better nail products that might be better suited to a particular lamp.

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