Gel nails have become one of the most popular nail styles at salons. They last a long time and look amazing. Gel (and polygel) can also be done at home, as long as you have the most important tool: an LED nail lamp to cure your nails!
With so many models of LED nail lamps available (as well as UV and UV/LED), it is super confusing to figure out which is worth getting. And you need to be sure the lamp you choose is compatible with the polish or gel you want to use.
In this article, I look at the best LED and nail lamps around. I go over everything you need to know to get started with gels, touch on which gels each lamp is compatible with, what each is great at, and what other users are saying.
Best LED Nail Lamp: TLDR
Who Should Buy an LED Nail Lamp?
Gel polishes are gaining popularity because of how durable they are as compared to regular nail polish. If you want to use gel polishes, then you should also buy an LED nail lamp.
Although Traditional UV nail lamps can cure all types of gel polishes, modern LED nail lamps are preferred. You do need to make sure that your polish is compatible with your lamp.
You should consider an LED nail lamp due to the following benefits they provide:
How Long The Bulbs Last
An LED nail lamp can last for a very long time. The life of an LED lamp is far longer than regular UV bulbs. You won’t ever need to replace an LED because it can last for up to 50,000 hours, while UV bulbs typically last for 100 hours.
Speed and Efficiency
A nail lamp that cures gel polishes fast – LEDs are more efficient than UV light because they can successfully cure a layer of polish in half the time. UV nail lamps usually cure a layer of gel polish in about 2 minutes but LEDs can cure them in as little as 30 seconds (note: always follow the instructions of your gel for timing).
This is because UV light bulbs produce broad-spectrum UV lights while LEDs only concentrate on a specific wavelength that cures the gel polish.
Size and Form Factor
A smaller, lighter and more compact lamp – If you compare an LED with a UV bulb, you’ll see that the LEDs are tinier and lighter. This makes LED nail lamps easier to move from one client to another.
Smaller LED Nail Lamps do one finger at a time. That will certainly slow down your process, but on the other hand, they’re very small!
A lamp that consumes less energy – Even if there are multiple LED in a nail lamp, it still doesn’t use as much energy as regular UV lamps. They light up and effectively cure gel polishes with less power used.
UV nail lamps are basically little tanning beds for your fingers. This means that they’re exposed to ultraviolet radiation similar to what is produced in a sunbed. UV light can be dangerous and can lead to skin cancer.
Straight UV lamps give a larger dose of UV radiation than LED/UV nail lamps, which are what most of this list consists of.
However, there are a few (higher-end) models like Gelish Harmony, discussed above, that don’t emit any UV radiation. This means no dangerous exposure.
Just keep in mind that the non-UV gel lamps won’t dry UV nail polishes, and will only work with LED nail polishes.
LED Nail Lamp vs LED/UV Nail Lamp
LED nail lamps are available in two kinds: LED-only nail lamps and combination LED/UV nail lamps. One emits UV rays and the other doesn’t. The one that emits UV rays is mostly preferred by salons and individuals who have a collection of gel polishes from different brands.
Due to the range of the wavelength of light produced, they cure all types of gel polishes.
Like other tools that use UV light, there is still a debate on its safety. To address that, various brands have released gel polishes that can be cured with LED nail lamps that don’t emit UV rays.
If you choose LED lamps that don’t use UV light, make sure the gel polishes you use don’t require UV light.
LED nail lamps are available in two kinds: LED-only nail lamps and combination LED/UV nail lamps.
Wavelength Of Light Produced
The first thing to check is the wavelength of the light produced by your LED nail lamp. This will determine if it produces UV light or not. The UV/LED nail lamps produce light at two wavelengths, 365nm and 405nm.
This enables them to cure all gel polishes.
Depending on the gel polishes you intend to you, you may also select an LED nail lamp that doesn’t produce light in the UV range. Some choose this because they want to avoid UV exposure.
This type can’t cure gel polishes that require UV but can be used for other gel polishes that are specifically formulated for use with non-UV-producing LED nail lamps.
Fast Cure Time
The main reason to get an LED nail lamp is to cure the gel polishes at a faster rate. A UV lamp that usually cures a layer of polish in 90 seconds can be cured in an LED nail lamp in as little as 30 seconds.
Although LED nail lamps only take seconds to cure a layer of polish, the curing time can still vary from one lamp to another. There are different factors can affect this. One of them is the wattage of the lamp.
Usually, the higher the wattage, the faster it is to dry your gel polish. Check the wattage and make sure it isn’t below 10. Most LED nail lamps that have a wattage rating of 10 and below don’t effectively cure gel polishes. Do note that as the wattage increases, so would the price.
With pre-programmed timers, there is no need to manually set an alarm or to watch the clock closely while waiting for the gel polish to cure. The light will automatically switch off when it’s done, and you can remove your hand.
Other units don’t just come with one option. They give a few options because the curing time doesn’t only depend on the nail lamps used but also the gel polishes.
Due to their ingredients, some gels tend to dry far more quickly or slowly than others.
Another feature to look for in an LED nail lamp is the automatic sensor feature. This makes it much easier to use the nail lamp. With this feature, you don’t need to push any buttons to switch on the lights.
When your hands are in, the lights automatically switch on and when your hands are out, they will also automatically switch off. This is made possible with the infrared sensor.
Fits Two Hands
Having a LED nail lamp that fits both hands will help lessen the amount of time your hands get exposed to the light.
Some models are big enough for four fingers but can be a bit tight when the thumb is also included.
You risk ruining your polish when your hand doesn’t comfortably fit under the lamp. This is why some would just prefer to cure the thumb separately instead of making it fit.
Some units may also fit the hand well but can be a little tight when used on the foot.
Additionally, there are also LED nail lamps that are big enough for two hands.
Easy To Clean
Although LED nail lamps won’t easily get dirty, it is still best to find a unit that’s easy to clean. If your gel polish drips, some rhinestones fall off, or if the hand bumps into the unit, you’ll be able to get it all out easily before using it again.
Some LED nail lamps are designed to have a removable base. This makes it easier to clean. Removing the base can also help make more room under the lamp so that the feet fit perfectly.
We all want the best but not all can afford expensive LED nail lamps. It’s important to see if they fit within the budget. There are affordable units that are just as good as more expensive ones. Compare not only the price but also the value you get for that specific unit.
Just like other products, a warranty can give you peace of mind. When products don’t work well, you can have them replaced or refunded through the warranty.
Some brands don’t just offer a warranty but also life-long maintenance service. This is important because of the long lifespan of the LEDs. Some units may not act up until later. It’s great to know that you can count on the manufacturers to service your unit for a lifetime when needed.
To make an LED nail lamp stand out from all the rest, some units may come with an added extra feature. This can also make or break the decision to buy the unit. Extra features may make the LED nail lamp more expensive. Assess carefully and determine if you need the extra features or not.
Does an LED nail lamp work on regular nail polish?
No. LED nail lamps only work on gel polishes, they can’t be used to dry lacquer. Regular nail polish doesn’t need to be cured by light. They only require air drying.
Some units may help dry up regular nail polish if they have built-in fans. But as for the use of LED/UV light on regular nail polish, there is no effect.
Can you replace the LED light beads in a nail lamp?
The LED light beads can last for 50,000 hours. There should be no need to replace them. However, if your unit seems to have non-working LEDs, you should immediately contact the seller to use the warranty, if it has warranty.
Typically the individual lights cannot be replaced at all.
Does a Nail Lamp make your nails feel hot?
Heat spikes can occur when the gel polish is cured or hardened quickly. Some feel a burning sensation. This is not normal and may be due to the thinned-down nail plate or when the gel polish is too thickly applied. It is best to apply a thin layer of gel polish at a time.
In case you feel a heat spike, immediately remove your hand from the nail lamp to cool it down. You can continue with the curing process once the hand is cooled down.
Also, some units have a painless mode. This usually requires you to put your hand under the lamp for a long time but it gradually intensifies the light to make curing feel more comfortable.
The Gelish Harmony 18G is the best LED nail lamp available, but ouch: that price point! This unit is absolutely salon-quality and can dry gel nail polish in as little as 5 seconds. Gelish is a very well-known brand, and this LED nail lamp is priced based on the branding and quality that Gelish provides.
This LED nail lamp tops our list due to its rapid drying speed and overall build quality. It can do both manicures and pedicures and can dry all five nails at the same time. However, it is not designed to fit both hands or feet at the same time.
It includes 18 LEDS, each two watts in power. This results in a total of 36 watts of power output, all focused on one hand or foot.
The Gelish Harmony is quite easy to use. It has an auto-on system that senses when it needs to turn on. The front panel features three buttons that control the timer. You can choose 5s, 20s, or 30s. The attractive display informs you of how much time is left on your dry schedule.
For the foundation coat, it takes about 5 seconds to dry. For a light-color topcoat, it takes about 20 seconds. For a dark topcoat, it takes 30 seconds.
The Harmony provides unsurpassed quality. Its careful design gives full coverage to the nails. And the polish dries evenly at the fastest pace in the industry.
This LED nail lamp will work with any gel polish, and is compatible with both UV and LED nail polishes. The LED lights produce light in the UV range; there are no UV lights in this dryer.
Gelish includes a protective eyeShield to limit the amount of exposure to potentially harmful UV radiation.
The bottom of the tray has a removable replacement tray. It is magnetic, so it snaps back into place every easy. Additionally, it’s acetone-resistant, so it’s extremely easy to clean.
One note here is that while this unit is an authentic Gelish product, you may want to inquire with Gelish as to whether this unit is covered under Gelish’s warranty.
The overall opinion of this LED nail lamp is extremely positive, and most users feel that it is worth the cost. It dries nails extremely evenly and quickly. This is the best LED nail lamp available.
Key Points at a Glance
- Salon-quality LED Nail Lamp
- Cures in 5-30 seconds
- 18 LED lights produce UV wavelengths
- Compatible with all gel nail polishes
- 3 Timer settings
- Magnetized replacement tray
- Easy-clean tray is acetone resistant
- Not covered under Gelish’s warranty
- Dimensions: 9.9″ x 8.9″ x 5.9″
- Weight: 2lbs
- Includes 18 x 2-watt LEDs
- 36 Watts of power output
- Powered by cutting-edge LED technology,...
- Built-in LED display and motion sensor...
- Accommodates both hands and feet...
- Equipped with a patent-pending magnetic...
- Comes with a patent-pending eyeShield...
Coming in second is the SUN 5 Pro Best UV LED Nail Lamp. This nail lamp is a 72-watt high powered, yet energy-saving, gel polish dryer. It uses more power to quickly dry the gel nail polish, and it runs for a shorter duration than other units.
This one is much cheaper than the Gelish Harmony, though it’s not quite as speedy and high-quality.
With 36 dual-source UV LED beads, the SUN 5 Pro is capable of curing all types of gel polishes such as Shellac, UV gel, nail sculpture gel, LED nail gel, nail builder gel, and many others. The light beads are distributed evenly to ensure there are no dead zones.
Furthermore, the size of the SUN 5 Pro makes it perfect for home use or use for clients in a salon. It can fit both hands and/or feet without fear of smudging on the sides.
Four timer settings are also available and each has a designated button for ease of use. Be sure to use the appropriate curing time, as over-curing can lead to nail discoloration.
The infrared sensor allows for automatic operation, which simplifies the drying process, especially for new users. Additionally, the magnetic base is removable so you can easily check if all LEDs are functional or for better access during cleaning.
It is a highly rated product but one flaw that some buyers complained about is the shortness of the power cord. For some, the 40-inch cord is too short for this appliance. If that is a concern for you, pick up an extension cord to go with it.
Key Points at a Glance
- Big Enough For Two Hands
- High Powered At 72Watts
- Dual Light Source: LED + UV
- 4 Timer Settings
- Auto Sensor
- Large LCD Screen
- Doesn’t blacken skin
- 12 Month Warranty
- Short Power Cord
- Dimensions: 12 x 8.5 x 4.3 Inches
- Weight: 1.7 Pounds
- LED count: 36
- Operating Power: 72 Watts
- 👍 SMART UV LED NAIL LAMP. OVLUX PRO...
- 👍 DIGITAL TIME DISPLAY. The built-in...
- 👍 SMART SENSOR. Our professional...
- 👍 SUPER SPACIOUS. It is large enough...
- 👍 HIGH-POWERED AND ENERGY SAVING....
The Canvalite Nail UV Lamp has a solid feature list and a great price point. It provides a high power, quick-drying output of80W. This translates into a faster drying time and efficient design.
It also has a lower power 54W mode.
The Canvalite has 42 LED beads that ensure full coverage of the nails. The gel polish dries quickly and evenly. The beads produce light at 365nm and 405nm, making them suitable for all types of gel polishes.
It is also a large format nail lamp, so you can fit both hands or both feet to cure them at the same time.
Heat dissipation holes are found towards the opening. This helps lower the temperature when the nail lamp is used.
The Canvalite has four timer settings available and a digital display screen that shows the countdown of the timer. The fourth timer function features a 99-second “painless” mode where the light gradually brightens after 10 seconds and 50 seconds.
A built-in handle makes it portable and easy to transfer from one place to another. The plug cord is longer than most and measures 5 feet.
The Canvalite has received mostly positive feedback on Amazon and is full of five-star reviews. Many agree that it is very easy to use and they also loved the free nail grooming accessories that it comes with.
Key Points at a Glance
- Fits Two Hands
- Can Switch Between 80W or 54W
- 4 Timer Function
- ♥ HIGH POWER TO SAVE CURING TIME: 80W...
- ♥UV&LED DUAL LIGHT SOURCE: LED light...
- ♥ FLAWLESS CURING WITHOUT DEADZONE:...
- ♥ 99s LOW HEAT MODE: Under "99s" no...
- ♥ PERFECT FOR ALL NAIL GELS: thanks to...
The MelodySuzie LED Nail Lamp is fairly high-priced for what it is, but this unit is quite nice. It operates on 48W and has 18 light beads, that are evenly spread at 180°. This unit functions best with LED-only gel polishes, however it can work with both UV and LED nail polishes.
It makes use of a photo-initiator that has a wavelength of 380-410nm.
It is very easy to control and offers 3-timer presets: 4s, 20s, 30s. Each has a designated button so even novices can figure out how to use them.
There is also an auto sensor for the hand or foot that switches the light on and off.
Ventilation holes help prevent it from getting too hot while the large opening makes it easier to fit a hand or a foot. It also beeps whenever you place or remove your hand or foot. Some buyers got annoyed by the sound.
Many buyers successfully cured their LED gel polish with this unit but some claimed their gel polish wasn’t cured properly, although they didn’t specify what gel polish they used.
Key Points at a Glance
- Works Best with LED-only nail polish
- Automatic Sensor
- 3 Timer Presets
- 【High Power and LG Dual Light...
- 【Professional Salon Nail Lamp】27pcs...
- 【Safety and Sensor Design】Beads are...
- 【3 Timer Setting and Quick Drying...
- 【Premium Materials】MelodySusie Gel...
The Belmint LED Lamp is an LED nail lamp that doesn’t produce UV light. This means that it doesn’t expose the fingers to harmful UV light, but it also won’t work with UV nail polishes. Its can only function with gel polishes that are specifically formulated to cure under LED.
At an operating power of 9W, this unit isn’t speedy. It can take some time for the gel polish to be fully cured. There are 3-time settings: 30s, 60s, and 90s. Each can be set with a single button.
The Belmint LED Nail Lamp is a compact product that has dimensions of 3.55 x 6.29 x 2.55 inches. Although this makes the unit compact and portable, many find it too small.
Although it can still fit four fingers, there is a chance to smudge the polish before it’s cured when the fingernails bump on the sides of this unit.
Also, there is no screen, which tells how much curing time is left.
Key Points at a Glance
- Lightweight & Portable
- Functions with only LED nail polishes
- 3 Timer Options
- Doesn’t Emit UV light
- Doesn’t have a screen
Other Products We Looked At:
The Belle 48 W LED Nail Lamp has a cheerful, super fun printed design that looks striking even to the most prestigious clients at the salon. It is effective at curing all types of gel polishes due to its dual light source.
There are 30 LED beads spread inside the spacious lamp. Like other LED nail lamps, this also offers multiple timer modes, a 90-second low heat mode, infra-red auto-sensor and a detachable base for easier cleanup.
Although it’s a great product, we still prefer the 48W Nexpure Nail Dryer mentioned above due to its functionality. That unit’s printed design plus its shape is beautiful but the built-in storage space bring it above this one.
Key Points at a Glance
- For All Types of Gel Polish
- Unique Appearance
- 4 Timer Modes
This LED nail lamp is another great unit that can cure all sorts of gel polishes. It has 33 lamp beads that produce UV and LED. The dome shape of the lamp and the arrangement of the light beads help make sure every surface of the nail is lighted.
One of the best things about this nail lamp is the replaceable top pad. You can stick to the pink one or replace it with either the classic pearl or the textured upscale that’s difficult to scratch.
Four timer presets are available and there is also a smart auto sensor.
The control buttons are located at the back so it works great as a salon nail lamp. It works well at home too as many buyers commented but it lacks a few features like the LCD screen to show the countdown of the timer.
Key Points at a Glance
- Replaceable Colorful Top
- Cures All Types Of Gel Polish
- 4 Timer Presets
The LKE Nail Dryer is an LED nail lamp that can cure different types of gel polishes. It consists of 21 LED beads that emit LED light and UV light as well. It has a non-closed design which helps dissipate heat.
It has 3 timer settings which can easily be selected with a press of a button. A small LED screen also shows the remaining time needed to cure. There is nothing special about this unit, but the important thing is that it works pretty well.
According many users, it takes a long time to dry gel polishes. Additionally, the length of time will vary depending on the brand of polish chosenb. It can take a longer time to dry other types of gel polish. Also, some find that it’s a good product for home use but it’s not as good as salon-quality nail lamps.
Key Points at a Glance
- Non-closed Design
- For All Types of Gel Polish
- 3 Timer Modes
The J721 LED UV nail lamp is great for personal use due to its small size and long curing time. It cures different types of gel polish and it comes with two timer settings. Choose from either a 30-second or 60-second session.
It has a nice body shape that’s open on both sides. This design ensures adequate ventilation and prevents the hands from feeling too hot. There is also an auto-sensor that detects the hands and automatically turns the light on.
It comes with a USB cable, but a standard plug isn’t included. Make sure to use a 5V charger to power up the unit. There are mixed views about the USB power source. Some love its flexibility, while others find the overall power lacking.
Key Points at a Glance
- Can be Used on All Types of Gel Polish
- 2 Timer Setting
With all the LED nail lamp in this review, the Gelish Harmony LED Nail Lamp clearly dominates over them all. It’s a high powered unit that cures all gel polish types in just seconds. The high-end system is built well and is one of the top names in the industry.
If the price tag of the Gelish is too much for you, consider our runner-up, the SUN 5 Pro LED Nail Lamp. It doesn’t have the name recognition or speed of the Gelish, but it has pretty similar power capabilities and can handle two hands or two feet at the same time.