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A Guide to UV vs LED Nail Lamps – What are the Differences?

Written by: Ellie Simmons



Time to read 8 min

One of the most common questions we get popping up in our inbox or on our social media is what the difference is between a UV vs an LED nail lamp, so we're here to answer all your buzzing questions.

But first, let's start with the basics.

A nail curing lamp – whether it be LED or UV – is required to cure or ‘harden’ gel polish, meaning that without one of these devices, you won't be able to enjoy your beautiful mani for very long.

This is a very clear difference from regular polish, which airdries and doesn't last anywhere near as long as a result.

You should cure every layer of gel polish you paint, even if it's just a small nail design (a quick flash cure will do here, but it still needs to go under the lamp).

As for what the difference is between the two types of lamps? Well, the answer might not be what you expect...

What’s the Difference Between UV vs LED Nail Lamps?

UV Nail Lamps

LED Nail Lamps

Take longer to cure polish (usually 120 seconds)

Cures gel polish quicker (usually 60 seconds)

Emit longer wavelengths

Emit narrower wavelengths

Bulbs last approximately 4,000 hours

Bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours*

*Based on Mylee Pro Salon Series Convex LED Lamps

Both LED and UV nail curing lamps produce light which cures gel polish.

The main difference between the two lamps is the technology within them, the type of bulbs they contain, and the type of light they produce.

Different Curing Times

UV nail lamps take longer to cure your gel polish. Typically a layer of gel polish will take 2 minutes to fully cure.

When we compare this to LED lamps, the time is much quicker. LED lamps, with their narrower wavelengths, can cure polish a lot quicker, usually in 60 seconds, or flash cure a nail art design in just 15 to 30 seconds.

Bulb Lifespans

As the bulbs in these lamps are different, they also last for a different amount of time. The bulbs in a UV lamp last for approximately 4,000 hours.

The amount of time you have your lamp on obviously can vary from person to person and how frequently they use their lamp, but this typically means the bulbs need to be replaced every 6 months or so.

With a standard LED lamp, your bulbs last for a LOT longer – from 5,000 to 10,000 hours. And for the Mylee Pro LED Lamp the bulbs last for a whopping 50,000 hours! That’s a whole lot of gel nail art!

Our Pro LED Lamp contains new convex curing technology, which has a curved design that helps the light emitted from the LED bulbs bounce around the lamp, and off the silver base.

This allows the light to reach all parts of your nails at once, so your thumb and the sides of your nails will cure just as quickly at the top of your nails facing the bulbs.

What Wattage is Best for a Gel Nail Lamp?

It’s important to note that wattage only measures the amount of electricity the lamp draws in, not how effectively it uses that power to cure your polish.

You can actually achieve a better cure with a lower-watt lamp, but this depends on other factors, too, like the energy efficiency of the bulbs, location of the bulbs and reflectiveness of the inside of the lamp.

Our LED lamps achieve a brilliant cure with only 18 watts but convert that to a whopping 20 mW/cm2 (Millwatt per square centimetre) UV light intensity, making it far more energy efficient than others on the market.

This saves you money each time as it uses less energy to achieve a stronger cure!

Are LED Nail Lamps Safer Than UV Lamps?

One common misconception about nail lamps is that only UV lamps emit UV light rays – this is untrue. Both UV and LED lamps emit very small amounts of UV rays.

While overexposure to UV rays has been known to cause damage to the skin, studies have found that the amount of UV rays emitted by a UV or LED lamp is very minimal and therefore nail lamps are safe to use.

You can choose to wear nail gloves or an SPF hand cream if you want to take extra precautions.

If you’re choosing to use hand cream, take care not to get any on your nails before applying your polish.

Can LED Nail Lamps Cause Cancer?

As we've mentioned, LED lamps emit very minimal amounts of UV rays, which makes them safe for use on your nails.

There have been concerns about the long-term effects of UV exposure from nail lamps, specifically related to the risk of developing skin cancer.

However, if you're getting your mani done every 2 or 3 weeks, studies have shown that this isn't enough exposure to significantly increase your risk of cancer.

How Often Can You Use a Nail Lamp?

People typically go between gel manis every 2 to 3 weeks, depending on how long the polish lasts (our gels last up to 3 weeks) or whether they want to switch up the colour.

This means most people are only using a nail lamp about 1-2 times per month, which is considered safe.

Can You Cure UV Gel With an LED Lamp?

Mylee gel nail polishes can be cured with both the Pro LED Lamp and a UV lamp, and we strongly recommend using our lamps to cure your Mylee polish for the best possible results.

There are some gel polishes out there that are UV-only gel polishes, so these will only cure under a UV lamp, and not a Mylee LED lamp.

Do UV or LED Lamps Work on Regular Nail Polish?

We get asked this one a lot, and the answer is simply no. Neither UV nor LED nail lamps will cure or dry regular nail polish.

Regular nail polish needs time to dry in the open air and doesn’t cure or set like gel nail polish does.

What is Better: a UV or LED Nail Lamp?

Overall both UV and LED lamps are effective at giving you a flawless and beautiful gel mani that will last weeks without chipping. But if there’s one that takes the cake, it would be the LED lamp.

LED lamps take less time to cure and have been proven to last longer than UV lamps. Plus, our Mylee Pro LED Lamps have some pretty cool tech that’ll give your gel polish a better finish, and we’re always for up that!

UV lamps are still a good option and will do the job of curing your polish just fine, so if this is your preferred choice, don’t sweat it!

Just make sure you’re always curing your gel polish for the correct amount of time in the corresponding lamp – whether you’re using LED or UV lamps – and you’ll have a long-lasting salon-worthy mani by the end of it.

Do Nail Salons Use LED or UV Lights?

Due to the updated technology in LED Lamps, they can last for longer and cure your gel manicure more quickly, so most nail salons will use an LED lamp to speed up their client's appointments and achieve better results.

Mylee LED lamps are perfect for both at-home and salon use, so they’re the best of both worlds.

Summary: The Differences Between LED & UV Nail Lamps

So, in short, the main differences between LED and UV nail lamps are the curing time and the lifespan of the lamp. LED lamps are more efficient and can cure gel polish faster than UV lamps, so they're the most popular option for nail salons and home use.

However, both types of lamps have their own advantages and it ultimately depends on personal preference and budget.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to the quality of the lamp and its bulbs.

Investing in a high-quality lamp, like the Mylee LED lamp, will ensure that you get the most out of your gel polish and achieve better results – especially when used with our gel polishes.

You can shop our range of LED and UV lamps below and get free delivery over £25!


What’s the difference between a UV & LED nail lamp?

Both UV and LED nail lamps emit small amounts of UV rays. However, LED lamps emit smaller wavelengths, which speeds up the curing time. LED lamps can’t be used to cure UV-only polish, so keep an eye out for this.

Are LED nail lamps safe to use?

Yes, LED lamps are safe to use. There is minimal UV exposure with any type of nail lamp, so you don’t need to worry about potential skin damage. You can choose to wear nail gloves or use SPF hand cream - but take care not to get any cream on your nails before polish application.

Does a UV light dry regular nail polish?

No, regular nail polish will not dry under a UV light, or an LED light for that matter. Regular polish doesn’t need to be cured in the same way as gels, they just need to air dry.

How long do I need to cure my gel polish under a UV & LED lamp?

You should cure your Mylee gel polish for 2 minutes under the Mylee UV lamp and between 30 and 60 seconds under the Mylee LED lamp, or 15 seconds to flash cure nail art.

How do I know if my nail lamp is UV or LED?

You can check the instructions that your lamp came with or check online for the specific model to determine if it is a UV or LED lamp. You may also be able to tell from the amount of time it takes to cure the polish, as UV lamps typically take longer than LED lamps.

Ellie Simmons

Ellie is a Brand Ambassador for Mylee. Alongside being a skilled and certified nail technician, Ellie's expertise extends to gel manicures and nail extensions.

Her heart and soul are devoted to all things nail-related, and she loves flaunting her own long, natural nails with captivating nail art. Ellie's ultimate favourites are iridescent and sparkly designs!

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