If you paint nails, then at some point, you will need a way to dry the gel polish. There are several traditional ways you can use to dry other nail polish. However, my experience has shown that with gel polish, the best results are achieved if you use a nail lamp. Otherwise, the polish will just chip off the nails. Now, I’m my review: “The best 5 nail lamps – LED & UV Nail Lamps Review of The Best Nail Curing Lamps You Can Rely On“, there is one thing I left out – a nail lamp buying guide. That is how to choose a curing lamp that will give you the best results for your manicure or pedicure.
Therefore, this nail lamp buying guide will address the main factors you should consider when buying a curing lamp for drying your gels (nail paint). The list here may not be exhaustive, but trust me, these 7 factors are probably the most important. So, without any further ado, lets discuss these factors one by one.
Nail Lamp Buying Guide for UV Nail Lamps and Led Nail Lamps; The 7 factors to Consider
Type of gel polish and The Light Source of the nail dryer
The gel polishes you use will either be LED or UV. Basically, the difference has to do with the types of photo-initiators used in manufacturing the gel polish and how these photo-initiators react to curing light. If this sounds technical to you, do not worry, you can read the full explanation of how LED and UV gels cure and the main differences between them in the review referenced above (link opens in new Tab, so you can finish reading this article).
When it comes to nail lamps, we currently have three types namely:(1) UV nail lamp, (2) LED nail lamp and (3) Mixed UV LED Nail Lamps (SMART nail lamps).
LED lamps only cure LED specific gel polish brands where as a UV lamp will cure most gel polishes. This means, you can use LED polish with a UV nail lamp but you can only use UV polish if you have a UV nail lamp, as you cannot cure them with a LED lamp.
However, there is a new technology on the block. This technology it called the double light emitting bulbs/beads. This technology has led to the development of what we call SMART LED UV nail lamps. These nail lamps have light beads which emit curing light that covers a wide range on UV light band. This enables the lamp to cure all kinds of gel nails without you having to worry about distinguishing them. With this smart nail dryer, your choice of gel polish is no longer dictated by the type of lamp you have at home. In addition, these smart lamps combine the best of both LED and UV curing lamps.
Curing Speed of the nail lamp (Cure times)
You do not want a lamp that takes forever to dry your nails. So, speed should be a big contributor to your buying decisions. Generally, LED lamps are faster, while UV lamps are slower. This is due to that fact that a UV lamps works within a broad light spectrum, so it takes longer to cure and dry the nails (up to 5 min). But the LED versions works in a narrow light spectrum, which enables it to cure and dry your gel polish (within 2 minutes) Obviously, these times will depend on the layers of polish you have applied. It can take 30 seconds to cure a layer under LED light, while it will take up to 90 seconds in a UV lamp. As stated above, the mixed UV LED lamps combine the best of the two types.
However, even between the same type of nail lamp (e.g., if we are comparing only UV lamps), you will notice that some brands are faster than others. Several factors will determine the speed. But you also should check what preset time controls does the lamp have: 14s, 30s, 45s, 60s, 90s?
Wattage of the lamp
Related to curing times is the wattage of the lamp. Lamps will come with different wattage, ranging from as low as 12W and upwards. Generally, the higher the wattage, the faster the drying times and the better the curing efficiency. Therefore, the wattage of the lamp should also be a great contributing factor to your nail lamp buying choice. For example, for a UV lamp, I would not buy anything below 20W, while anything below 12W for a LED nail lamp would not give good curing results and speeds. However, the prices also tend to increase as the wattage of the lamp increases. and our next consideration is the price
Price of the gel lamp
We all have different budgets we are willing to splash on a nail lamp. LED lamps are more expensive, but guarantee more safety to the operator and client compared to UV nail lamps. However, the good news is that most of the currently available mixed UV LED lamps are reasonably priced. Hence, if you can get one with good features at the price you can afford, then you should definitely go for that. Unless you are operating a nail salon business, it may not be justifiable to spend beyond what you can afford on a single lamp. So, a home use type, I would recommend that you buy a mixed UV LED lamp because it will provide the functionalities of both the UV lamp and the LED lamp.
5. Convenience and size of the nail lamp (portability)
- For convenience, I mean, does the lamp allow you to cure both hands/feet at a go or you have to cure one hand at a time. It would be more convenient if the lamp can accommodate both your hands or those of your client so that they are cured in at the same time. However, it is not always possible to get such nail lamps. The majority will only accommodate one hand/feet at a time. this increase the manicure time. See my review on the link above where I share a lamp that can cure both hands at the same time. This is a huge time saver.
- For size of the lamp, that I guess is self-explanatory. A large lamp may not be convenient to move around between manicures. Compare that to a light portable nail dryer.
Durability of the light bulbs (Bulb Life span)
LED bulbs can have a use life span of 50,000 hours. Remember a manicure under a LED lamp can last only 2 minutes? well, with a 50,000 hours life spam, this means you never need to replace your bulbs (unless of course you physically damage them). However, the UV bulbs in UV lamps can have a life span that runs up to 100hours of continuous use. This also depends on the brand. But still, curing a UV gel manicure under UV lamp takes only 5 minutes. Therefore, with these UV bulbs, you can still do 1200 manicures. If you do one mani per week, that is roughly 23 years of use.
Regardless, if something unfortunate happens and the bulbs get damaged, you can still get replacements on Amazon for cheap.
Design of the nail dryer
Design of the lamp is a serious consideration for some people, especially salon owners. Well, I get it. You want your salon to have the fancy, sleek and elegantly designed nail lamp. So, go for it. For the home, the design may not be an issue [may be its only me ? ? ]
In conclusion, just recently, we used to say that “buying a nail lamp is not a one type fits all thing”. but now, with the mixed UV LED nail lamps, we are eating on our words. You can buy one lamp to cure all your gel types, especially if it is for home use. However, for a professional nail salon, you may still have to look at other factors when you are buying your nail lamp. I hope the factors discussed in the nail lamp buying guide will help you choose a great lamp that will help you accomplish your manicure and pedicure needs.
Do you think there is any other factor I have not talked about in this nail lamp buying guide? Do you disagree with any of the opinions I have discussed above? I would love to know your opinions. Please leave them in the comments section below.
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