Can I Use an LED Flashlight to Cure Gel Nails? What About My Phone?

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There are plenty of varieties of nail polish around, but gel nail polish is quickly becoming a top choice among nail beauty lovers. It’s strong, easy to work with, and beautiful. However, one of the main issues you’ll run into with your gel polish is that it will have to be cured using UV or LED light, depending on the polish.

If curing your gel polish is causing you problems, then you’re in the right place. Many of us don’t want to mess with potentially-hazardous UV nail lamps, and LED nail lamps aren’t cheap. Are there other options?

Many have wondered: Can I use an LED flashlight to cure gel nails? Can I use my phone flashlight to cure gel nails?

Most likely you can’t use an LED flashlight or phone flashlight to cure gels. Most non-specialized LED flashlights and phones don’t emit waves below 400nm, which is what is typically needed.

If you have a specialized flashlight or UV flashlight, it may work. We’ll go over the details below.


Can I Use an LED Flashlight to Cure Gel Nails?

LED Nail Lamp

Most likely you cannot use an LED flashlight to cure gel nails.

If you have an LED nail lamp, obviously the lamp will be your best bet. But if it just failed halfway through your home manicure, then you may be reading this article frantically trying to figure out an alternate solution before your date!

Whether or not you can cure your gel nail polish with an LED flashlight depends on a few different factors.

The main issues are:

The Type Of Gel Polish

Beetles LED-compatible Gel Polish

There are now a whole bunch of gel polishes on the market. Some are specifically for use with UV lights, and more and more are now compatible with newer LED lights. You need to be sure your gel polish is LED-compatible.

The Beetles Gel Polish shown above is compatible with both LED and UV. Take a look at the package or the bottle. The usage instructions will likely identify the kind of light you should use to cure the gel.

Some will even tell you the specific wavelength of light that works best.

The Type of LED Flashlight

LED Flashlight

The next question is what sort of LED flashlight you have. The LED lights that are used to cure gel nail polish tend to be a little more specialized than those that are frequently used for lighting. In an LED nail lamp, the light frequency is much more in the blue spectrum than what is typical of a phosphor-coated standard LED flashlight.

It almost looks like a blacklight.

The light that is emitted from an LED flashlight also isn’t naturally white, but rather it is blue as well.

You may be wondering why the light appears white. The reason flashlight LEDs appear to be white is due to the phosphor coating that you’ll find on the exterior of each LED.

If your gel nail polish explicitly states that it can be cured with an LED light and it still won’t cure when you’re using a flashlight, then it may be an issue with the flashlight itself, in particular the phosphor coating.

Phosphor Coatings

The phosphor converts the blue light to a combination of several different colors as it passes through. And since white is composed of all colors mixed together, this is how the light appears white.

Unfortunately, this also affects the wavelength of the light that is emitted from the flashlight.

In most cases, cheap LED flashlights use the phosphor method to produce white light, but this doesn’t mean that all LED flashlights are unsuitable for curing.

Some high-quality LED flashlights may emit the right kind of LED light to cure your gel nail polish.

As a result, it’s certainly worth giving your flashlight a try if you’re stuck with no other options.


When it comes to whether or not a light source can cure your gel nail polish, you’ll have to consider the wavelength of the light before anything else. Most gel polish resin requires a wavelength of under 400 nm to cure gel polish, though this can vary from brand to brand.

Unfortunately, most common flashlights don’t go that low.

One of the main reasons why LED lights can cure UV gel is because they tend to contain a UV component, especially if they don’t have a phosphor coating. To turn the light white in LEDs that are used primarily for lighting, the phosphor converts the ultraviolet light, meaning that it can no longer be used to cure gel nails.

Can I Use My Phone Flashlight to Cure Gel Nails?

There is almost no chance a phone flashlight will work to cure gel nails. They’re just not designed for this sort of setup. The color tone of a phone’s flashlight (and the camera flash) is designed to get you the best flash photos, not to cure gel nails!

For example, an IPhone LED doesn’t emit anything below 400 nm, so it won’t work.

There are a million different types of phones out there, so of course, it depends on the model of the phone. Maybe there’s one or two out there that will work.

But the vast majority of phones will not be able to cure gel nails.

Can I Use a UV Flashlight to Cure Gel Nails?

If an LED flashlight won’t work, maybe you have a UV flashlight at your disposal and you’d like to give that a shot. Well, you’re in luck because a UV flashlight is a lot more likely to cure your nails than one that produces LED light. This is because the light isn’t filtered by phosphors.

Under 400nm flashlight

The flashlight shown above is an example of a sub-400nm flashlight.

When working with a UV flashlight, you’ll have to consider whether the wavelength of UV light that it emits is sufficient to make the gel on your nails cure. In most cases, UV flashlights feature a wavelength of 395 nm, which makes the light’s wavelength just short enough to potentially cure your nail polish.

Since the wavelength is under 400 nm, there’s a good chance that a UV flashlight will be able to cure your nails, but its proximity to that wavelength also makes it a bit of an unreliable choice.

If you’re lucky, you won’t have any trouble curing a specific brand of nail polish, but others may require a lower wavelength of UV light.

This is because most curing lamps emit light at a wavelength of about 370 nm, so many nail polishes are designed to cure at that wavelength, which is obviously lower than the 395 nm of most UV flashlights.

Those 25 nanometers can make all the difference when it comes to curing your gel polish.

How to Cure Gel Nails Without a UV Light

If you found out that your LED flashlight doesn’t work while trying to cure your gel nail polish, you may be looking for an alternative that you can use to dry your polish.

Some of the following methods may seem a little bizarre, but when you’re sitting around with wet nail polish on your fingers, you may be willing to try anything.

No guarantees here as much depends on the specific polish. But one of these may work.

Quick-Dry Nail Polish Spray

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Quick dry nail polish sprays tend to come in an aerosol can and they exist to help dry non-gel nail polish faster. But there are cases in which it may work with these kinds of nail paints too.

Before applying the quick-dry spray, you’ll want to cover your hand in a towel or a newspaper and then spray it.

You should hold the can about six inches away from your hand while you spray your nails with a shallow coat of the solution. Do this again on your other hand and then wait for a few hours for your nails to dry off.

Ideally, it should be able to dry your gel polish, though this method will take far longer.

Cooking Spray

PAM cooking spray

Yet another spray you can use to harden your gel nails in an emergency is cooking spray. This may sound rather unusual, but it’s worth a shot if you’re sitting around with wet polish on your fingernails.

Just like with the quick-dry spray, you’ll want to hold the can about six inches away from your hand while you’re spraying your nails.

Repeat this with your other hand.

You’ll likely have to wait a few hours for the nail polish to dry, so try and find something to do that doesn’t involve using your hands for that period of time.

Dip Your Fingers in Ice Water

Yet another way to cure gel nail polish without using a UV or LED light is to hold your nails underwater in ice water for about 15 minutes. Of course, you may not be able to do this all in one sitting, especially if you don’t want to end up with fingers that are frostbitten!

Ideally, pour cold water into a bowl and then add ice cubes to it. Give the mix some time to reach a colder temperature and then submerge your fingers in it.

After about ten to fifteen minutes of holding your fingers underwater, dry your nails off for about an hour so that the gel polish can set.

Keep Some Non-Gel Polish, Just in Case

In an absolute emergency where you need to paint your nails but you can’t cure gel polish, it would probably be a good idea to keep traditional gel polish on hand! This will allow you to paint your nails when you would otherwise be unable to.

Final Thoughts

“Can I use an LED flashlight to cure gel nails?” Unfortunately, the answer depends on the kind of flashlight or phone you’re using and the gel polish that you’re using.

In most cases, you’ll be unable to cure your nails with a UV flashlight because it doesn’t emit the kind of light that is required to cure the polish (under a wavelength of 400 nm).

If you happen to have a compatible flashlight, give it a go! Just remember to avoid over-curing your nails in order to avoid discoloration.

Otherwise, just get a nail lamp compatible with your gel polish.

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).