Let’s Talk Lamps: UV, LED, or Both? – Universal Pro Nails

Let’s Talk Lamps: UV, LED, or Both?

Anna Bralley, Licensed Nail Tech, Director of Product Development, Universal Pro Nails

Looking for a curing lamp but not sure if you should choose UV or LED? While both UV and LED lamps can cure gel polish, they’re not the same. And every salon professional has an opinion and preference for one or the other.
If you need to purchase a nail lamp and aren’t sure which one is best for your business, take a look at this brief overview.

Comparison of UV & LED Nail Lamps

UV (ultraviolet) lamps are an older technology. They emit a broader spectrum of wavelengths and offer an average cure time of 2 minutes.


  • They’re budget-friendly.
  • UV bulbs are inexpensive to replace.


  • UV bulbs don’t last as long (typically need changed after 10,000 hours).
  • Curing time takes longer (2 -10 minutes).
  • Skin is exposed to UV light, which has raised health concerns.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps
are newer technology and more expensive than UV lamps. They emit a more focused, concentrated wavelength and offer an average cure time of 30 seconds.


  • LED lamps are relatively easy and inexpensive to maintain.
  • Properly cures LED formulated gel polishes.
  • High-quality models will not overheat.
  • Most are designed for both manicures and pedicures.
  • They’re safer to use than exposing skin to UV light.
  • LED nail lamps are more cost-effective than UV nail lamps ($25 to $200, depending on the model and wattage).
  • LED bulbs last longer (up to 50,000 hours).
  • LED nail lamps use less energy than UV lamps (depending on the model and wattage).


  • LED lamps only cure LED formulated gel polishes.

4 Nail Lamp Features to Consider

When deciding on a lamp, you’ll want to consider a few features that’ll make your mani-pedi services run more smoothly.

  1. 1. Curing Time: For this, LED is the better option since it cures faster compared to UV.
  3. 2. Size: The right size will depend on the size of your clients’ hands and feet. To accommodate larger hands, consider lamps that have more space so hands will easily fit inside. Some models are even large enough to cure two hands at a time.


  1. 3. Timer: It’ll also be helpful if the nail lamp comes with multiple time settings so that you can choose which is suitable for your gel polish product. Most will have settings of up to four timers, ranging from 30 to 120 seconds.


  1. 4. Versatility: Get the most out of your lamp by finding one that can cure fingernails and toenails. Some lamps are designed for use on hands and feet.

Consider Your Gel Polish Formulations

Some gel polishes will not respond to UV lamps; others won’t work well with LED lamps. Some brands may take only a minute or two to cure properly under an LED nail lamp, whereas others may take up to five minutes. Therefore, if your salon carries UV formulated gel polish or LED gel formulated nail polish, then you’ll need a light that cures one or the other.

If your salon carries a mix of both UV and LED formulated polish, then you’ll benefit from purchasing the best LED light for gel nails that’s designed with both UV and LED lights. The good news? Most advanced nail lamp models utilize both UV and LED lights to deliver drying and curing.

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