Differences between LED lamps, UV lamps and UV / LED lamps. Which to choose?

nail lamp is a fundamental component of your manicure kit to always have your hands in perfect condition. Whether you want to perform this operation at home, or if you plan to use it professionally, you must have one of these devices to achieve a quality and durable finish.

Today, thanks to its affordable prices, ease of use, and easy maintenance, anyone can have a nail dryer and enjoy a professional manicure.


We can find three types of nail lamps on the market:

  • UV Nail Lamps
  • LED Nail Lamps
  • UV / LED Nail Lamps

They all have in common that they emit radiation, but each one at different wavelengths . While UV lamps have a wide range of radiation spectrum, in the case of LED lamps this spectrum is smaller.

The drying process

Gel nail polish cures by reacting with ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths , which impact on  and activate molecules called  photoinitiators in the gel. Once activated, photoinitiators cause a  series of smaller chemical reactions  that they cause a hardening of the gel polish, also called “curing . ” In this way they are perfectly fixed to the surface of the nail.

UV lamps emit broad UV wavelengths , so they take longer to cure , but it works with all gel types , including LED gels.

On the other hand, LED lamps use narrower wavelengths that focus on specific photoinitiators in drying LED-type gels so that they cure faster, but they will not achieve a good cure with UV gels .

In the case of semi-permanent enamels, either of the two types of radiation achieves a perfect drying

We are going to analyze the main characteristics of each type of nail lamp, so that you are more clear about which one is the best for you.


UV Nail Lamps

They are the first to hit the market and are currently partially losing their popularity, although they still have many followers.

The UV nail lamps are usually classified by the power of their devices. which is given by the number of bulbs it contains. The bulbs have a standard power of 9 W, so a lamp that contains 4 bulbs will have 36 W of power , which is the usual thing.One drawback that these types of nail dryers have is that they tend to suffer a lot of wear and tear and they lose effectiveness over time, so we will have to change them periodically , which is observed by a lower luminosity in the lower part of the bulb.

In any case, its useful life is close to 100 hours , so if you are going to use it for your manicures at home you will not have to worry too much about this aspect. For lamps with intensive use in a nail salon, the estimated duration is 2 to 4 months .

The drying time in a 36 W UV nail lamp for each coat in semi-permanent manicures (base, color and top coat) is approximately 120 seconds , depending on the brand of polish.

As for gel nails, the curing time with these devices is also 120 seconds, but with the advantage that we can use all the varieties of gels available on the market, both UV and LED, since as we point out Previously, UV lamps cover a larger wavelength range, necessary for curing and fixing the gel to the nail surface.

The size of UV lamps is usually larger than that of LED lamps , which in part hinders their mobility, but it will also allow us to insert the entire hand and carry out the drying of the five fingers at the same time.


Another of the side effects produced by UV lamps is exposure to UV radiation , although it is minimal compared to other activities, such as lying in the pool, using UVA cabins. Most of the UV light emitted by nail lamps is UV-A, which is less harmful to the skin than UV-B. To prevent these possible effects, there are protective hand gloves to minimize possible damage.

LED Nail Lamps

The arrival on the market of nail lamps with LED technology represented an evolution with respect to UV lamps, since the necessary curing times were significantly shortened, something that was valued very positively in nail salons.

The main problem that these types of nail dryers have is that they cover a smaller spectrum of wavelength, so they only cure gel nail polishes that are formulated to adjust to this type of light , although they do achieve a perfect finish with semi-permanent enamels (base coat, enamel and top coat).

On the contrary, we find many other advantages when comparing them with UV nail lamps, they are:

  • Much shorter drying time , as each coat achieves a perfect finish in 30 seconds
  • Much longer life of LED bulbs , approximately between 3,000 and 5,000 hours, so we will not have to worry about the maintenance of the lamp, since its power does not decrease over time, as in the case of UV lamps
  • They are not harmful to the skin
  • They consume less energy and are more respectful with the environment

As for the price, it is usually a little higher than that of UV lamps , although you can also find models with good performance for a fairly affordable amount.


UV / LED lamps

They are the models that are growing the most in the market, since they combine the two types of light: UV and LED , so we will not have to worry about the type of gel nails or polish with which we are going to work,

Being the newest technology, the price is going to be a little higher than in the other two types of nail lamps , although the difference is not very significant and they are still very affordable devices.


Which nail lamp to choose?

The choice of your nail lamp should be done taking into account the products you are going to work with and the budget you have, but our advice is:

  • If you are going to use only semi-permanent enamels and gel nails to do your manicures at home : A UV lamp will be enough , so the cost will be lower
  • If you are going to use semi-permanent enamels and LED gels : the best option will be an LED lamp
  • If you are going to use all kinds of gels and semi-permanent enamels and you want a professional use , either for your own manicures, or if you want to dedicate it to your work activity: opt for a UV / LED lamp

We hope we have clarified a little for you the differences between the types of nail lamps that we can find on the market. Anyway, if you want to know a little more about the rest of the aspect that you should take into account before choosing the one that best suits your needs, we recommend that you take a look at our buying guide .



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