11 Best LED & UV Nail Lamps: Your Buyer’s Guide

uv nail lamp

123RF.com (Serhii Tesliuk)

At home gel manicures with your own LED or UV nail lamp are more affordable and easier than you think. In order for gel polish to set into its rock-hard, impervious state, it has to cure under UV or LED light.

Comparing nail lamps can be frustrating with specs like 16 beads and 10W that might not give you a good sense of how good a lamp is (spoiler: a 10W lamp is very weak). I’m going to break it all down so you know which is the best fit for your home or salon. If you’re just starting out, you might want to check out a gel nail kit and get everything at once.

What Are the Best UV & LED Nail Lamps?

Silver gelishnail lamp Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Professional grade
  • Eye-sheild
  • My top pick
Price: $191.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
nail lamp with hand Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Cordless and rechargeable
  • Display can be flipped
  • Battery life of 12 hours of use
Price: $65.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Nail lamp with two hands in it Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Redesign of popular lamp
  • Room for two hands at once
  • Lots of power
Price: $34.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
LED nail lamp wiht drill Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lamp, drill, and vacuum
  • Additional lamp for detail
  • 96W lamp
Price: $119.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Black Lumcrissy nail lamp Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Salon-quality
  • Durable
  • Stays cool for the user
Price: $109.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Metallic gold nail lamp Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Cures gel fast with 128W
  • Metallic gold
  • Automatic light sensor
Price: $29.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
White nail lamp with phone stand Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Smartphone stand
  • Adjustable power
  • Affordable
Price: $27.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Holographic LED nail lamp Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Faceted holographic shell
  • Motion sensor
  • 86W power for fast curing times
Price: $29.75 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
LED nail lamp with two hands Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 150W dual-light bulbs
  • Fits two hands
  • User-friendly interface
Price: $22.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Small pink led lamp Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Small for travel
  • USB charging cord
  • Cute pink color
Price: $13.29 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Melody Susie UV lamp Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Includes replacement bulb
  • Choice of colors
  • Traditional UV
Price: $34.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Best Professional Lamp: Gelish 18G Professional LED Lamp

    • Salon grade
    • Available in bundles
    • Eye sheild to limit light exposure
    • My top pick
    • Buttons positioned for salon setting
    • Bigger initial investment
    • Home users may find beeping annoying

    The Gelish 18G Nail Lamp is about as professional as you can get. It’s sleek, from a trusted brand, and above all, it’s fast. Like curing some coats in five seconds fast. It’s only 34 watts, but as it’s strictly LED, those watts pack more punch.

    There is plenty of room for one hand and with the light placement you won’t have to worry about your thumbs. It has three preset timers and an LED screen, both on the back of the unit which is good for a salon setting.

    It beeps when a cycle is done in case you have your back turned or a client isn’t paying attention. The padded hand rest is a perfect spot to apply your polish and the lamp is acetone resistant to hold up to a salon environment. And for all that, it’s not a huge unit and wont take up your whole table.

    Gelish recently released a cordless version of this lamp as well. If you’re just starting out, Gelish has a Gel Polish Fantastic Four Bundle that includes the 18G lamp and bottles of their nail prep, base coat, top coat, and cuticle oil.

    VideoVideo related to best professional lamp: gelish 18g professional led lamp2018-10-24T12:32:27-04:00
  2. 2. Best Cordless Nail Lamp: Lumcrissy 72W Rechargeable Lamp

    • Cordless and rechargeable
    • Unique side display
    • LED display orientation can be flipped
    • A two-hour charge lasts for 12 hours
    • Can't fit two hands at once
    • You need to remember to charge it
    • Battery makes it heavier

    This rechargeable, cordless nail lamp from Lumcrissy frees you from the need to be near an outlet and has a long list of features with functionality in mind.  I love my current lamp but the idea of not having to worry if the cord will reach has me reconsidering my options.

    The Hotrose Cordless takes two hours to fully charge and that will power the lamp for 12 hours of continuous use. To put that in real-world terms, if you used the longest function of 120 seconds per hand, the battery should last through 180 full manicures. That’s not bad at all. 

    A unique feature this lamp has that you don’t see often is the ability to reverse the LED display. If you’re using it on yourself the display can face the front of the lamp. Then, to use it on someone else, you can hit the reverse button and the display will switch to face the back of the lamp. You never have to look at the display upside down again.

    I love the set up of the LED display screen pushed to the side like this. It’s still very readable but if you’re doing someone else’s nails, the lamp has this large blank space perfect for them to rest the hand you’re working on while the other cures. 

    This 72W lamp has 36 LED bulbs that line the top and sides of the dome for coverage from all angles. The lights turn on automatically with a hand sensor and the bottom panel is removable for pedicures and easy cleaning. It comes with four timer settings of 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and a low heat 120-second setting. It will remember the last setting you used and continue with that selection until you press a different button.

  3. 3. Both Hands at Once: SUNUV Sun 5 Pro 72W Lamp

    • Improved design
    • Can fit both hands at once
    • Preset timers and motion sensor
    • Good for pedicures
    • Heavier than some
    • Too big to throw in your purse
    • Bottom comes off too easily for some

    The Sun 5 Pro has salon-quality power in a design that’s simple enough for beginners to use and space for two hands at once.

    I have had the first version of this lamp, the Sun 5, on this list before but now that they’ve come out with this redesign, I had to switch it out for the Sun 5 Pro. The new design is wider and deeper so you can easily fit both hands or both feet inside.

    They’ve also cranked up the power to 72W. This boost in power means that curing times are faster than its predecessor. It has preset timer settings for standard cure times and the motion sensor turns the light on when your hand is inside the lamp and off when you remove your hand. The magnetic bottom plate comes off for cleaning and for pedicures. 

    There’s a low heat mode for people sensitive to the burn of long cure times so you can reduce the power for products that need a long cure.

  4. 4. Best All-in-One: 5-in-1 Nail Lamp, Drill & Dust Collector

    • All the tools you need
    • Perfect home nail station
    • Affordable for three tools
    • Lamp has variable power
    • Not everyone wants an all-in-one
    • Takes up table space
    • Not for salons
    • Have to spin around for lamp

    If you want to get all your nail tools in one place, the Five-in-One Nail Station is a combined nail lamp, nail drilling machine, nail dust collection vacuum., hand rest, and gooseneck lamp for better light when you’re working. It’s a whole, self-contained unit for your nail art and as someone with limited space on my nail table, I am here for that. 

    The whole thing appears to be set up to do someone else’s nails as all the settings are on one side and the nail lamp is on the other. That said, it’s not that hard to work the station from the other side if you’re using it solely on yourself.

    The lamp is why we’re here so let’s look at that first. It’s located at the back of the station and has 36 LED beads. There are three timer presets and you can control the power of the lamp by switching between 48W and 96W. It works on a motion sensor and will turn on when a hand enters the lamp.

    It has an electric nail drill attachment that can be used to file and prep natural nails, help remove gel polish, dip nails, and extensions, as well as to shape enhancements. The drill can run up to 3,000rpm which is enough to work on materials like acrylic. It comes with a set of six bits.

    A great safety feature is the nail dust vacuum, a must if you’re working with a nail drill to help pull particulates out of the air and keep you from breathing them in. It’s well-positioned for working on the hand placed on the rest to prevent clouds of nail dust settling on all your things. An 80W fan sucks in air and traps nail dust in a filter. You get an additional filter replacement with the station. 

    It’s a five-in-one and that’s those are the three biggest features. The other two are an acetone-resistant silicone hand rest and a flexible lamp that allows you to position your extra light however you need it to get a better visual. 

    Keep in mind, any tools on a jack-of-all-trades device aren’t likely to be as high quality as buying the tools individually, but if you’re not working in a salon, this will easily get you by. Plus, seeing as drills and vacuums can run over $100 each, this station will save you a ton of money.

  5. 5. Most Durable Nail Lamp: Lumcrissy 64W Nail Dryer

    • Professional
    • Durable
    • Metal case keeps hands from getting hot
    • Heavy
    • LED only
    • Sensor is a little slow
    • Beeps at end of cycle

    The Lumcrissy 64W Nail Lamp is a professional model built to last. It comes with its own carrying handle which seems odd until you realize it weighs five pounds. So it’s not one you’d want to travel around with. It’s that heavy because it’s made of a zinc alloy instead of the normal plastic. 

    The metal absorbs heat, which means all that heat generated by the lights is drawn away from your client’s hand and away from the LED bulbs, extending their lifespan. It doesn’t have a bottom plate to need to fiddle with and digital readout faces the rear of the unit.

    The motion sensor isn’t as quick as some of the others but with its power and durability, it might be worth waiting the extra second or two.

  6. 6. Fastest Home Lamp: Ovlux 128W LED Nail Lamp

    • Powerful 128W cures fast
    • Flashy gold color
    • Easy to use touch buttons
    • Has presets and a low heat mode
    • Not everyone digs the color
    • Not big enough for two hands
    • No light shield

    If you don’t have a lot of time to spare and need a good nail lamp for home use, check out the Ovlux 128W Gold Nail Lamp. First off, it’s a gorgeous, flashy metallic gold and who can argue with that?

    The Ovlux Gold has cranked up the power to 128W so it will cure gel faster than the lower wattage lamps on this list. It has presets for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and a 99-second low heat mode where the wattage starts out low and gently increases.

    Its 36 dual-light bulbs cure both LED and UV-specific nail polish and the higher wattage means shorter curing times. I know with my old Abox lamp, I would need two 60-second cures or my polish would feel spongey. When a polish says it needs a 30-second cure, this lamp will deliver on that.

    It’s extremely easy to use and has all the perks you expect from a quality lamp including automatic sensors to turn the light on when you insert your hand, magnetic removable base for cleaning and pedicures, and easy to select presets. The lamp is a nice medium size and I can fit my whole hand in to cure my thumb at the same time as the rest of my hand.

    It even comes with a one-year warranty so you know they stand behind their product.

  7. 7. Built-In Phone Stand: Beetles 18W/36W Red Light Lamp

    • Unique smartphone stand
    • Affordable
    • Adjustable power from 18W to 36W
    • Red light is better for your skin
    • Not big enough for two hands
    • No proof that red light reduces wrinkles
    • Phone blocks access to buttons

    The Beetles Adjustable Nail Lamp solves a problem you didn’t realize you had. It has a built-in slot to hold your smartphone so it’s easier to use while you wait for your nails to cure. 

    As much as lamps are curing nails faster and faster these days, it still adds up to minutes of doing nothing but watching a little counter count down. With this lamp you can keep watching using your phone while you wait. 

    It’s also great if you have a nail tutorial you’re trying to recreate to have a central place for you to be able to view it while you work. 

    The Beetles lamp has adjustable power so you can choose either 36 watts or a lower 18 watts. It also uses red LED light which they say is better for your eyes and skin. 

    It has all the features you want in a lamp these days: magnetic removable base, motion sensor that turns the light on when you insert your hand, digital readout, and three timer pre-sets. 

  8. 8. Cutest Lamp: PrettyDiva 86W LED Lamp

    • It's shiny and holographic
    • Motion sensor
    • Easy reset timers
    • Digital countdown
    • Not for salon use
    • Too flashy for some
    • Can't fit both hands at once

    Your nail tools don’t have to look boring as this Holographic 86W Nail Lamp from Pretty Diva proves. 

    For a lamp that puts the focus on how it looks, it packs a punch with 86W of LED bulbs which makes for quick curing times. There are four preset timer options that are counted down on the LED display.  The lamp is motion activated so it turns on when you stick your hand inside and off when you remove it.

    Go all out with holo nail polish to match.

  9. 9. Most Powerful: SUN X8 Max 150W Lamp

    • Great two-hand coverage
    • User-friendly buttons
    • Low heat mode
    • 160W for faster curing
    • It can get a little warm
    • Too big for some
    • Not everyone wants higher power

    The SUN X8 Max has the highest wattage on the list and uses double light source bulbs so it works with all gel and shellac polishes.

    It’s large enough that you can easily fit both hands inside and the angling of the bulbs means you won’t have to contort your thumb for even curing.

    It has 57 dual-light bulbs with a lifespan of 50,000 hours, so if I run this thing 24 hours a day, the bulbs would burn out five years from now.

    The bottom plate slips off for cleaning and for easy pedicure use. The lamp has four simple buttons, including a low heat mode, and a large LED screen that shows the time you have left. Once you have chosen your time, a sensor detects when your hand is under the lights and starts your cycle.

    If the rose gold version isn’t your style, you can get this lamp in purple as well.

  10. 10. Best Travel LED Lamp: Makartt Compact Polish Dryer

    • Travel-friendly
    • USB power cord
    • UV/LED dual light
    • Great for pedicures
    • Too pink for some
    • Low wattage equals longer curing times
    • Might not fit your whole hand

    If you need a sleek travel dryer that’s easy to slip into your bag, Makartt’s Compact LED Polish Dryer fits the bill. It’s small, light, and simple.

    It’s USB powered so you can either plug it into the included wall adapter like any other nail lamp, or you can plug it into your computer or portable cell phone charger. That’s about as travel-friendly as it gets. With UV/LED combo bulbs, this lamp works with all gels, but at 18 watts, expect the drying times on this one to be longer than on nail lamps that can’t fit in your purse.

  11. 11. Best UV Only: 36W Melody Susie UV Lamp

    • Time presets
    • Choice of colors
    • Cures all gel types
    • Use to use buttons
    • Longer cure times than LED
    • Bulbs will need replacing
    • Larger than other lamps

    For those who like the traditional style, this Melody Susie UV-Only Lamp which means it will cure all gels and shellacs but the curing times are longer than LED. The shortest preset on this is two minutes.

    And being UV, the bulbs have a shorter lifespan of about 1000 hours so at some point they’ll need replacing, but the bottom panel comes off for easy access and this comes with a replacement bulb to start with.

Why Should You Be Doing Your Gel Nails At Home?

When you can go to a salon and have your nails done for you, why bother to do them at home? It's cheaper, it's more convenient, you don't have to worry about business hours, and you have more control over the products you put on your body.

If you're getting a $35 manicure every three weeks, that's $600 a year. That's a lot of money you could save by doing your own.

Gel polish nail lamps used to be expensive and bulky, but now you can get a portable nail lamp for the price of a single salon manicure.

Even professional, salon-grade models pay for themselves after only a couple of uses. 

How Does a Nail Lamp Work?

UV nail products like gel nail polish and polygel nail extensions will not air dry like normal nail polish.

Instead, they require UV light to activate a chemical reaction turning a liquid into a solid. This process is called curing and it basically transforms your polish into a durable plastic. 

NASA explains that ultraviolet light has a slightly shorter wavelength than the visible color violet and is a color of light we can't see. They also say that insects like bumblebees can see UV light. 

The purple light that you see coming from your nail lamp isn't UV light. It's whatever violet light has slipped through the filter since violet is so close to ultraviolet.

Will a Nail Lamp Dry Regular Polish?

No. Regular polish air dries so a UV or LED light won't have any effect on them. They do make different designs of nail polish dryers with either fans or sprays to help make polish dry more quickly.

If It's UV Light, Why Are So Many lamps LED?

It's not a matter of LED light versus UV light. According to Harvard, both produce ultraviolet light. UV bulbs emit UV light. Nail lamp LED bulbs emit UV light as well but in a stronger way. 

Should I Get a UV or LED Nail Lamp?

Nearly every lamp you find these days is going to be an LED lamp.

LED is the light of choice for the newest generation of nail lamp bulbs because they are more efficient, smaller, cure polish faster, and practically never need to be replaced.

LEDs require less electricity to create a stronger UV light than traditional UV bulbs. Where a strictly UV nail lamp may take two to three minutes to cure polish, an LED lamp will cure it in 30 seconds. 

And they can do that as tiny little beads that can be placed all around the lamp dome to cover all angles. 

According to the Department of Energy, not only do they use less power, but they also last 25 times longer than normal bulbs. It's not uncommon to see LED nail lamps with a bulb life of 50,000 hours--that means you could run the lamp 24/7 and it would take over five years for the bulbs to burn out. 

They do still make purely UV lamps but UV bulbs are harder to find, are much bigger, and need to be regularly changed like a normal light bulb. They also are much hotter and be uncomfortable for some people.

Are Nail Lamps Safe?

It's not unreasonable to raise an eyebrow at exposing ourselves to more UV light after putting so much care into wearing sunblock for years, but the FDA considers the UV exposure from nail lamps to be very low risk.

If you're concerned or maybe take a medication that increases your body's sensitivity to UV light (the FDA provided a list of these types of medications), you can opt to wear Fingerless UV Protection Gloves that are built for this very purpose.

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