The Truth About LED vs UV Nail Lamps

The Main Differences Between UV and LED Nail Lamps

1. UV nail lamps cure all gel polish brands, LED lamps only cure LED specific gel polish brands
2. LED lamps cure polish faster (30 seconds vs 2 minutes that UV requires)
3. LED lamps cost more
4. LED bulbs last way longer

Should You Buy a LED or UV Lamp? 

LED is more expensive but if you have the extra money it is worth it because it cures faster and gives you less exposure to UV rays. The majority of Gel polishes are formulated for LED so they will work with LED and UV. However, I love CND Shellac so I wanted a UV lamp because Shellac is my favorite gel polish and it won’t work with a LED lamp. It really depends on your budget and your brand preferences. If you buy a UV lamp you can’t go wrong because it will work with all gel polishes and it’s less expensive.

Why Are UV and LED Different? 

Gel nail polish is cured by ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths hitting the molecules called photoinitiators in the gel and activating them. UV lamps emit broad UV wavelengths so it takes longer to cure but works on all gel. LED technology uses more narrow UV wavelengths that targets specific photoinitiators in the gel polish so the gel cures faster.

How Safe are Nail Lamps?

woman wearing a white royal nails anti-uv gloveMany people are concerned about the potential damage or side effects from exposure to the UV rays from nail lamps. In reality, the UV exposure from nail lamps is minimal compared with other activities people engage in day-to-day such as walking outside, laying out out at the pool, using tanning beds etc. The majority of the UV light that nail lamps emit is UV-A which is safer for your skin than UV-B. Since there is a concern about UV exposure, LED lamps are considered safer than UV lamps because they require less cure time – thus less UV exposure. There are also safety precautions you can take at home by using sunscreen on the tops of your hands, or special  Anti-UV Gloves that are only $6, which is a pretty low price to protect your skin!

Which Gel Polish Brands Work With Which Type of Nail Lamp?

Polish Brands That Work With UV LampsPolish Brands That Work With LED Lamps
Artistic Colour GlossArtistic Colour Gloss
Bio Seaweed 3-STEP Colour Gel Bio Seaweed 3-STEP Colour Gel
Bio Seaweed Gel UnityBio Seaweed Gel Unity
China Glaze GelazeChina Glaze Gelaze
Cuccio ColourCuccio Colour
Daisy GelDaisy Gel
Entity OneEntity One
Essie GelEssie Gel
EZ Flow TruGelEZ Flow TruGel
Gel IIGel II
Gels in Action Gels in Action
Glam & Glits INKGlam & Glits INK
IBD Just GelIBD Just Gel
Indigo Nails LabIndigo Nails Lab
Jessica GELerationJessica GELeration
Light EleganceLight Elegance
NSI Polish ProNSI Polish Pro
OPI GelColorOPI GelColor
Orly GelFXOrly GelFX
Perfect MatchPerfect Match
Red Carpet ManicureRed Carpet Manicure
Sally Hansen Salon GelSally Hansen Salon Gel
Bio Seaweed Gel UnityBio Seaweed Gel
SuperNail ProGelSuperNail ProGel
Artisan Gelefex
CND Shellac
Light Elegance
Star Nail Eco Gels

Can You Use Gel Polish Without a UV or LED Lamp? 

No. Gel will not cure without the UV light to activate the molecules in the gel. If you don’t cure your gel under a lamp then buying gel polish is pointless because you won’t get any of the large benefits of gel like going chip free for 2 weeks.

Can You Use LED Polish with a UV Lamp? 

Yes! Because the UV Lamp emits broad UV wavelengths, it cures LED polish and UV polish. You will want to shorten the time you cure the LED Polish. Many manufacturers list on their websites how long to cure the polish under LED Lamp and how long to cure under a UV lamp.

Can You Use UV Polish with a LED Lamp? 

No, it is not recommended. LED lamps focus on specific wavelengths and these wavelengths don’t always activate UV polish.

Does UV or LED make a difference in how long the gel manicure lasts? 

No. The length of how long your manicure lasts chip-free depends on the quality and brand of the gel polish, how well you apply it and how much daily wear your nails endure.

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