Can You Cure UV Gel with an LED Lamp?

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Gel nail polish is known for its excellent level of durability when compared to other types of nail polish, though it can be a little harder to work with. This is because gel polish needs to be cured so that it can harden and set, and this requires a specific lamp that can “activate” the nail polish.

The question that we’re going to be answering today is, “Can you cure UV gel with an LED lamp?

There are two main types of lamps that are used to cure gel nail polish: UV Nail Lamps and LED nail lamps. LED lamps are quickly becoming more popular than their UV alternatives, and this has led to a slew of questions about them and how they can be used to cure your nail polish.


Can You Cure UV Gel With an LED Lamp?

BellaNails LED Lamp

Whether or not you can expect to cure UV gel with an LED lamp depends on the formulation of the gel nail polish that you’re using, as well as the type of lamp you have.

Since every gel polish is made differently, some of them will be able to cure in LED light, some will cure in UV light, and some will cure in both.

Just because your nail polish is marked as UV gel polish, it doesn’t automatically mean that it can’t be cured by a more convenient LED lamp. You’ll have to take a close look at the instructions on the gel polish that you’re using and note what the manufacturer has to say about it.

Most polish makers will state the type of light that your gel polish can be cured with on the packaging. If it’s not immediately apparent on the front side of the package, check the back, which should include details about how the gel should be applied.

For example, this package by Aibrit features UV and LED compatible gel polish:

lofuanna Gel Nail Polish, 20 Colors Gel Polish Set with 4 Pcs Base Coat, No Wipe Glossy & Matte Top Coat and New Strengthener Coat, Soak-off LED UV Light Curing Nail Polish Set
  • 23 PCS Gel Nail Polish Set: Gel nail...
  • Environmental&Healthy Gel Polish : This...
  • UV/LED Gel Nail Polish: Gel nail polish...
  • Easy Application&Endurable Wear Nail...
  • More Colors&More Choices: Aibrit gel...

Keep in mind that gel polish that is marketed as “UV gel” will likely only be curable by UV light unless it is explicitly stated on the packaging that it can also be cured with an LED light. Also consider whether the gel is going onto a real nail bed or a fake nail.

So can you cure UV gel with an LED lamp? In most cases, UV gel will not be curable with an LED lamp, though certain hybrid gels will have no problem with either kind of light.

A Changing Marketplace

Due to the growing popularity of LED curing lights, most companies are adjusting their gel formulas so that they can be cured by both UV and LED. Having a more versatile formula makes a company’s gel polish more appealing to potential customers, as they won’t need a specific kind of light to cure the gel.

Keep in mind that essentially all forms of gel polish are curable using a UV lamp instead of an LED lamp, making them more versatile.

The only time that you may run into trouble is when you’re trying to cure your nail polish with an LED lamp, as certain types of gel polish only respond to UV wavelengths.

Some companies will even recommend using a specific type of lamp to cure their nail polish to ensure that the curing process happens properly. This is because some gel nail polish formulas are formulated with a certain lamp wattage in mind, and this can ensure that the nail polish doesn’t end up getting over-cured.

Remember you’ll need your lamp to be compatible with your polish in order to get your polish to cure properly.

What’s the difference between UV Lamps and LED Lamps?

There are a few crucial differences between UV and LED curing lamps. The best option for you will depend on the kind of nail polish that you use most frequently and whether you prize convenience or versatility in a curing lamp. While UV lamps are more versatile, LED curing lamps are easier to use and maintain.

LED Lamps

LED Nail Lamp

Since LED lamps, like the SUNUV shown above, are newer than UV lamps, they’re typically more expensive since they aren’t produced in large numbers like the UV variants. As time goes by, the price of LED curing lamps is expected to drop because of more manufacturers adopting this lamp style and more gel polishes becoming curable with it.

For a higher price, you get better performance out of your LED lamp. It’s capable of curing your gel nail polish much quicker.

For example, while a UV lamp will cure your gel polish in about two minutes, you’ll only have to cure your gel polish for about 30 seconds if you’re using an LED lamp.

This helps prevent over-curing and gel polish discoloration.

Another benefit of using an LED lamp is that the bulbs will last far longer than those on a UV lamp. If you’ve ever used an LED light for another purpose, then you likely know their reputation for not needing a bulb replacement in tens of thousands of hours.

Your typical LED curing lamp will be able to run for 50,000 hours before the diodes need to be replaced.

As we mentioned earlier, one of the crucial weaknesses of LED lamps is that they can’t cure every type of nail polish. If you like to vary your gel polishes, then you may be better served by a UV lamp that you can be sure will be able to cure your nail polish, no matter what manufacturer makes it.

UV Nail Lamps

UV Nail Lamp

UV lamps are the older design that has been around for a while. They are essentially mini-tanning bed bulbs for your nails. The MelodieSuzie UV nail lamp shown above is a great example.

They are becoming less and less popular as LED prices have fallen and people are more and more concerned about UV radiation.

Your average UV curing lamp’s light bulb will last for about 1000 hours of use, which is significantly lower than the 50,000 hours of an LED lamp. Even if you don’t reach 1000 hours of use, it’s recommended that you replace the bulb used in your UV gel polish curing lamp every six months.

Another thing to consider about UV lamps is that they may be detrimental to your health compared to LED lamps. While there is no proven correlation between these lamps and disease, studies have shown that excessive exposure to UV light can cause several skin cancers to develop.

Final Thoughts

If you’re in the market for a nail lamp, you should absolutely choose LED. They’re safer and no more expensive at this point. You may need to get new polish to go with them, but LED is the clear winner at this point.

You may even be able to dig through your drawers and grab a flashlight to cure gel nails, though it depends on the light.

See also our articles on Electric Nail Files and Nail Dust Collectors for more ideas to up your nail game! But be careful with these: over-filing can lead to heat spikes.

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).