Getting your nails done at a salon is fun, comforting… and expensive. The cost of getting gel manicures at a salon adds up very quickly. It may seem worth it because of how long the beautiful nail color lasts, but you can get the same effect for much cheaper.
The best LED nail lamp will allow you to bring the salon right to your home! Read on to learn more about this innovative device, and what you should look for when purchasing one yourself.
What is a LED Nail Lamp?
An LED nail lamp is a little device that cures gel nail polish.
For all intents and purposes, whenever talking about gel nails, curing equals drying. To cure something is to preserve it, and an LED nail lamp really does preserve your nail polish. It does this by outputting specific UV rays. The UV rays react with the molecules in your gel nail polish to harden it.
This makes your manicure last up to two whole weeks without chipping! You simply stick your freshly painted nails under the LED light, wait a bit of time, and your nails are done. No more walking around the house with jazz hands, too careful to touch anything.
When your gel nails are done they are completely budge proof, and an LED nail lamp helps you get them done quickly. LED nail lamps are simple, effective, and portable!
Types of Nail Lamps
The two types of nail lamps are UV and LED nail lamps. They both serve the same purpose but differ in price and efficiency.
LED Nail Lamps
LED nail lamps are a newer technology that uses LED lights instead of a UV light bulb. They are often more expensive, but work really quickly. Additionally, LED nail lamps are clearly taking the lead in popularity. They are much more low maintenance than UV nail lamps because your LED lights will never burn out. This article will mostly focus on LED lamps.
UV Nail Lamps
UV nail lamps came on the market first. They are the older technology, though many still swear by them because of their universal effectiveness. Some gel nail polishes will only work with UV nail lamps. Even some top gel nail polish brands like CND Shellac only work with UV nail lamps.
3 Must-have Features of the Best LED Nail Lamps
The best LED nail lamps should have many different features that make the task of doing your nails easier for you.
High wattage cut: LED nail lamps that have a high wattage cut the curing times needed for your nails to dry. They will have wattage higher than 6W, which is the common wattage for ‘mini’ and beginner nail lamps. LED nail lamps with anywhere from 12 to 48 watts will do the job much more quickly.
Build in timers: Another useful feature is built in timers. Sure, you could set your own timer on your phone, but with a high quality LED nail lamp you won’t have to.
Enough Room for the fingers: Finally, an often overlooked feature in the best LED nail lamps: enough room for all five fingers. Why would there not be enough room for all five fingers, you ask? Who knows. But it sure is annoying to have to dry your thumb separately.
Top 8 LED Nail Lamp Reviews
Below you’ll find a listing of top rated LED nail lamps currently available on the market. These LED nail lamps will all have the must-have features of the topnotch LED nail lamps. It’s up to you to decide which one fits you perfectly based on your budget and preferences.
What’s the Difference Between UV and LED Nail Lamps?
The two types of nail lamps, UV and LED, are still both in use today. Let’s lay out the basics of the differences between them.
One way that UV and LED nail lamp differs is their usage of UV light. UV nail lamps output wide spectrum UV light. The wide spectrum UV rays provided by UV lamps are a ‘catch all’ for gel nail polish. This is why some gel nail polishes only work with UV lamps. LED nail lamps also produce UV rays, but on a much smaller, and more precise scale. Because of this, an LED nail lamp works with most, but not all gel nail polishes. It’s still well worth it because this is much better for your skin, which should be shielded from strong UV rays whenever possible. The more targeted LED nail lamps cure nail polish faster too! This is why LED nail lamps are becoming the new standard.
Another difference is maintenance. UV nail lamps require you to change the UV light bulb regularly. You never have to change the light bulb on LED nail lamps, because LED lasts virtually forever. LED nail lamps do have a greater base cost than UV nail lamps, but also are a one time purchase only.
How to Use LED Nail Lamps
Using an LED nail lamp is fairly simple, but can differ between manufacturer slightly. See your gel nail polish manufacturer for specific dry times. The general steps are as follows:
- Apply a base coat. Make sure the coat is even, and try not to get any on the skin around your nails. If you do color outside the lines a bit, clean it up with a cotton swab.
- Cure the base coat under the LED nail lamp for around 45 seconds.
- Apply your nail color. You may need to apply two coats of your nail color to get it completely opaque. This depends on the quality and intended sheerness of your nail color.
- Cure your nail color under the LED nail lamp for around 60 seconds. If you are applying two coats of nail color, cure each coat separately.
- Apply your topcoat.
- Cure your topcoat under the LED nail lamp for around a minute or more. Topcoats usually take more time to dry than the others. Don't’ be surprised if this is the case.
- If your nails feel tacky to the touch, wipe with a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol.
- All done!
This might sound like a hassle but if you think about it, how long do your nails usually take to dry completely? Without gel polish you can be delicately going about your day, stressing about messing up your new manicure. When gel nail polish is cured completely it’s 100% mess proof for up to two whole weeks!
Things to remember when using LED nail lamps
- An LED nail lamp will dry your nail polish faster than a UV lamp. To learn the specifics, always check the gel nail polish manufacturer for precise dry times.
- Remember that an LED nail lamp only works to dry gel nail polish. It won’t affect regular nail polish at all.
- Applying rubbing alcohol to your finished nail will not damage or reduce the life of your polish.
- Rubbing your dried gel polish with rubbing alcohol after curing is only necessary if the nail is tacky to the touch.
- Most gel nail polishes are ‘soak off’ and you can’t just take them off the same way as normal nail polish. When it's time to change up your gel nails, you must soak them in acetone instead of just wiping them.
With the information in this article you should have no trouble doing your own gel manicure at home!