Getting a great gel manicure is half about the right application, and half about correctly curing the polish. We already covered how to apply gel nail polish perfectly on a previous article, so now we are going to focus on the best nail lamps for your requirements. There are two types of gel nail lamps, those that use LED vs UV nail lamps. LED lamps are easy to use, last forever without having to replace the lights and work with many gel polishes in the market (not all of them though!). In this article we cover the best LED nail lamp for gel nails suitable for home use, as well as offering some tips and tricks on how to choose the best one for your needs.
Best LED Nail Lamp Wattage
When shopping for the best LED nail lamp, choose one that is at least 36W. LED gel lamps are quicker than regular UV lamps, and a 36W one will cure your gel manicure in seconds minimising the chances of smudges. You can go a bit lower, down to 30W or higher, up to 48W, but any led nail dryers with less wattage are likely to be a waste of time.
Keep in mind that if the lamp is not long enough (or you don’t keep your nails under it for long enough) your polish will remain sticky and easy to smudge. If you are just going to have hours for your nail polish to dry, you can as well do a regular manicure right?
Best LED Nail Lamp Size
The perfect size for a LED nail lamp is a matter of personal taste… and hand size. If you have very small hands, or are fine curing only a few fingers at a time, a smaller compact lamp may be enough. Personally I think the best LED nail lamp should help me finish my manicure quicker, and so I prefer models that are wider and allow me to cure all my fingers at the same time. It’s important to choose a lamp that fits your fingers comfortably, or you risk accidentally smudging your manicure against the sides or top while curing the polish.
However, if you travel a lot or need to do your manicure in different settings, a smaller compact device can be really useful even if you need to cure your fingers in stages. You can save some time curing first 4 fingers on each hand, and then both your thumbs together. There are some LED lamps that are really small, and designed for curing one finger at a time. Some people love them, because you can literally do a gel manicure ANYWHERE including your lunch break at the office. But you need to be careful to paint and cure one finger at a time to avoid smears. They work great if you want some way to fix a broken or chipped nail in a hurry though!
Why Should You Use LED Gel Lamps?
- Speed: They are much faster than UV lamps, cutting curing time by up to 70%
- Less skin exposure to UV light than with traditional lamps
- Less energy use and no need for replacement bulbs. LED bulbs last for over 50,000 hours! For comparison, a UV lamp bulbs could need to be replaced every few months.
This type of lamp is a more modern version of traditional UV lights, and they are perfect for home use. They are also safer, as the light emitted won’t hurt your eyes like UV light could. And they are perfect for nail art, as they cure gel polish very quickly.
Best At Home LED Nail Lamp: Gelish Harmony LED Light
- PROFESSIONAL CURING LIGHT: The Gelish 18G LED Professional Gel Polish Curing Light is manicure and pedicure-friendly; Cures all 5 fingers, and toes
- FAST CURING & DRYING: LED accelerated technology provides the fastest curing times in the industry. Gel polish cures in 30 seconds under LED lamp (2 minutes under UV lamp)
- EASY CLEAN: Acetone-resistant and magnetized tray for effortless thorough sanitizing between clients
- 3 TIMERS: Features preset LED display timer with countdown times: 5, 20, and 30 seconds
- SPECIFICATIONS: Features patent-pending eyeShield, which limits light exposure and finger-stopper to guide the hand for proper placement; Includes (18) 2-watt LED lights for 36 total watts
Gelish is a well known manufacturer of both gel nail polishes and curing lamps. We think the Gelish Harmony LED Light is the best LED nail lamp in the DIY category for a variety of reasons. But the biggest selling point is speed: you can put both your hands (or feet!) inside to cure them at the same time. 10 fingers of gel polish dry in just a few seconds. Your base coat would be dry in 5 seconds, 20 seconds for a light color or 30 seconds for darker colors. Then another 20 seconds for your base coat, and you are off in less than two minutes! It’s totally worth it if you enjoy gel manicures at home often.
Speed aside, this is a very compact and solid piece of manicure tech. It has a lovely large digital touch screen display which is acetone and scratch resistant and features a nice countdown and a beep to tell you when your manicure is done. Sensors turn the lights on when it senses your fingers (or toes) are inside the curing area for maximum comfort and ease of use, perfect for newbies and professionals alike.
In terms of wattage, the 36W of this model fall straight into the best led nail wattage recommendations above, offering a quick curing time while being perfectly safe for home use. The patented eyeShield™ system will protect your eyes from exposure to LED light. An all around great performer and in our opinion, the best LED nail curing lamp in the market.
While it’s recommended you use this lamp with Gelish nail polishes, you can also use it with any other compatible gel nail polish that requires the same wavelenght.
Best LED Nail Dryers On A Budget: MelodySusie 12W LED Nail Lamp
- 【Portable & Compact】MelodySusie portable nail lamp is compact, ergonomic, and lightweight. It's a perfect pocket nail dryer for school, office, home use, and travel. You can use it anywhere as you like!
- 【Low Heat & Painless】The nail lamp cures your gel nail polishes with low heat, painless that protects your hands. If you feel this nail lamp is a little small for your hands, we recommend to cure your thumb firstly, then cure the left 4 fingernails.
- 【Cure All Kinds of Nail Gels】 All light beads adopt advanced technology, makes it works with all UV gel nail polish and LED gel nail polish. This nail lamp featured low electric power consumption, energy-saving, environment-friendly, and long lifespan.
- 【Easy to Use】This lamp has a one-button design with a built-in timer. Press the button once for 60 seconds and twice for 45 seconds. This setup is easy to use for even the nail art beginner.
- 【Gift Idea】Super-cute white design with a heart-shaped button makes a perfect gift for friends and family. Best gift for your friends or mother who want to be more charming.
More compact than the Gelish but still very practical, the MelodySusie 12W LED Nail Lamp will cure one hand at a time. It has lower wattage than other brands, but will still cure most brands of gel nail polish and simply you can’t get better for under ten dollars. Yes, that’s how cheap you can find it in places like Amazon, and if you are just dipping your toes in the gel manicure at home world it’s the perfect LED nail lamp to buy.
You don’t get extras such as automatic start with a sensor (you will need to press a button with a timer) but you can still set it for 30, 60, 90 seconds or 30 minutes to dry any gel nail polish brand perfectly. Once the time is done, it will turn itself off automatically. It has a very sensible 12 months warranty that will cover any manufacturing defects, so despite the low price they show they are willing to stand behind their products in terms of quality.
Best Combined LED Nail Lamp: USpicy 48W LED UV Nail Dryer
- Compatible With All Gel Polishes: Portable 48W LED and UV light dries all kinds of LED and UV gel based nails faster than most other nail dryers.
- Better Visibility For Better Nails: Provides the right illumination to paint detailed nail designs. 【Double press the 120s timer button to turn on the USB LED Light.】
- Eye-Friendly Covering: A pull-down cover safeguards and cares for light sensitive eyes
- A Pillow To Rest Hands: Comfortable hand pillow provides a place for hands to rest when applying gels
- Three Timers For Max Convenience: Three timer modes and automatic sensor make for convenience when curing; detachable tray helps with cleaning or acts a space to cure toenails
The only reason why LED nail lamps haven’t taken over the market is probably the fact that some gel nail polishes only work under UV light. If you have an existing collection of gel polishes and don’t want to start over, you still need a UV lamp… or you can get the USpicy 48W LED and UV Lamp, which combines both. You can use it as traditional UV lamp, or as a LED nail lamp, at the same time. It’s all in the way the inner curing chamber is constructed.
The curing chamber is fully reflective, so your nails get fully exposed to both UV and LED light. It uses a 12W CCFL lamp at the top, and then 12 3W LED globes on the sides (6 per side). The pulldown cover can be drawn down to protect your eyes from light exposure while curing.
The overhead LED lamp light is perfect when you are working on nail art as it gives you perfect visibility of the surface of your nails. You can double click 120s on the timer button to turn on the overhead USB LED lights when needed. This model is very portable and comfortable to use even in small spaces.
Best High Wattage LED Nail Lamp: SUNUV 48W UV LED
- CURE ALL KINDS OF GEL NAIL POLISH: All light beads adopt advanced technology-- dual optical wavelength (365nm+405nm), makes it works with ALL kinds of UV and LED gel nail polish,e.g.Base Coat, Top Coat, Color Gel, Hard Gels, Builder, acrylic, sculpture gel, gem glue etc.. No brand requirements though. No need to worry about replace the beads.
- IDEAL FOR HOME AND SALON USE: SUN3 nail dryer’s 36 pieces durable 50000hrs lifetime LED beads are evenly distributed inside. It would helps to uniformly cure gel nail polish. Fashion appearance and wide enough zone make it easier to cure 5 fingernails or toenails at the same time.
- CURE 2X FATSTER: Double Power button offers cure speeds up to twice as fast as standard UV LED nail lamp—a full cure takes just 30% of traditional nail lamp.
- SMART PAINLESS BUILDER/HARD GEL CURING: unique 99s LOW HEAT MODE is more suitable for curing builders, hard gels. The power enhances gradually during this mode to protect your tender skin from pain when curing gels. Comparing to the traditional purple light nail lamp, this soft closer white lights does no harm to the eyes. Let’s enjoy the comfortable nail art!
- SMART SENSOR AND TIME MEMORY FUNCTION: SUN3 has a smart sensor. When you slide your hand/foot in, it comes on automatically for 120 seconds; or you can stop curing at any time by sliding the hand/foot out. Its 10/30/60/99 seconds timer let you control the curing time with each layer. It would work corresponding time if you use time memory function without pressing any buttons.
If you aren’t convinced by the USpicy 48W, SUNUV 48W UV LED lamp is an alternative worth considering. It cures any kind of gel nail polish and most builder gels evenly, and can be used by professional nail techs and at home users due to its very user friendly interface.
It has 3 timer settings, 10, 30 and 60 seconds, and a 4th 9+ second low power setting that can be used to avoid heat spikes when curing base and rubber coats. It doens’t have an LED display but it has an automatic sensor to turn it on and off when it senses your fingers are inside the curing chamber. If you enjoy giving yourself a gel pedicure, you can remove the bottom tray and place it directly over your toes. Size wise, it will comfortably fit 4 fingers and even 5 if your hands are small.
Provided your nail polish is suitable to use with a LED lamp, this kind of equipment makes getting gel manicures at home much easier and quicker. As more and more manufacturers develop LED compatible gel kits it becomes more of a no-brainer to choose the best LED nail lamp for gel nails to complete your kit.