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LED, UV & UV/LED Gel Nail Lamps - What’s The Difference?

  • 6 min read

Curious about the differences between LED, UV and UV/LED Gel Nail Lamps? Want to understand the gel manicure and pedicure products you’re using, and if they’re safe? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know.

Gelous Dusty Pink gel nail polish - photographed in New Zealand on model

What’s the difference between UV, LED & UV/LED Gel Nail Lamps?

All Gel Nail Lamps utilise UV light to cure Gel Polish, regardless of whether they are UV/LED, LED, or traditional UV lamps. The older UV lamps used UV bulbs that required frequent replacement and had long curing times. Bulbs had to be replaced every 6 months or so, and a layer of Gel Nail Polish took around 2 minutes to cure. Modern Gel Nail Lamps like the Gelous UV/LED Lamp use LED bulbs that operate on the UV spectrum, making them much safer and more efficient. These LED bulbs can last up to 50,000 hours and only take 60 seconds to cure each coat of Gelous Gel Nail Polish.

All Gel Nail Lamps that use LED technology, such as LED, LED UV & UV/LED Gel Nail Lamps emit UV rays to cure Gel Nail Polish. The UV rays emitted by modern Gel Nail Lamps are very minimal, ensuring they are safe to use.

What sort of UV rays are emitted from Gel Nail Lamps?

Both UV/LED Gel Nail Lamps and LED Gel Nail Lamps predominantly emit Ultraviolet-A (UVA), a type of UV light that is considered safer for humans when compared to Ultraviolet-B (UVB).

Why don’t all brands market their lamps as UV/LED Lamps?

Some brands choose to remove the ‘UV’ from their Gel Nail Lamp names to avoid negative connotations. We want our customers to have a clear understanding of the products they are purchasing and how they work, which is why we market our lamps as UV/LED Gel Nail Lamps.

How does Gelous Gel Nail Polish cure under Gel Nail Lamps?

Gel Nail Polish contains special ingredients that react to the UV rays emitted by the Gel Nail Lamp. This process, known as curing, transforms the liquid gel into a hard coating in just 60 seconds. The Base Coat and Colour Coat layers will remain slightly tacky after curing so that the next layer can adhere properly, whilst the Top Coat should be fully cured and dry once you’ve placed your nails under the lamp for 60 seconds.

By applying the Gel Polish in thin, even layers and curing each coat for 60 seconds under our UV/LED Gel Nail Lamp, you can ensure a stunning, long-lasting manicure that will shine like nobody’s business.

Is a Gel Manicure safe?

A gel manicure is considered safe when Gel Nail products are used correctly and with proper care. Although prolonged exposure to UV rays has been linked to skin damage, research has shown that the amount of UV rays emitted by UV, UV/LED or LED Lamps used for gel manicures is very minimal, making them safe for use.

Should I be wearing sun protection when curing my Gel Nail Polish?

The risk of sunburn or skin damage from using Gel Nail Lamps is extremely low, as the recommended usage time of up to 5 x 60 seconds is well below the threshold for potential harm. This has been confirmed by reputable sources such as Dr Stern, a New York City-based dermatologist and nail specialist, who states that "even if you were to have a gel manicure every week, your chances of developing skin cancer would not be increased."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also views nail curing lamps as low risk when used as directed. A 2013 study found that even for the worst lamp evaluated, 30 minutes of daily exposure to this lamp was below the occupational exposure limits for UV radiation. Further, at this time, there is no evidence that Gel Nail Lamps cause cancer. You can feel confident in your gel manicure knowing that your Gel Nail Lamp poses very little risk to your skin when used as directed.

Although the risk of skin damage is low, we understand the importance of protecting your skin. We recommend applying sunblock 15-30 minutes before using your Gel Nail Lamp, just as you would before going for a walk.

What other safety precautions should I be taking when using a Gel Nail Lamp?

Check your medication before gel manicures or gel pedicures

Before your gel manicure or pedicure, make sure to check if any medications you’re taking may react poorly to UV light. Dr Stern points out one such medication is Doxycycline, commonly used for the treatment of acne and infections. If you're unsure about the potential side effects of other medications, it's best to consult with your doctor to determine any risks before placing your hands under a UV or LED light. This is a simple step you can take to ensure your safety and give you the peace of mind to properly enjoy your gel manicure or pedicure.

Only use compatible Gel Nail Polish and Gel Nail Lamps

It is important to use Gelous Gel Nail Polish in conjunction with the Gelous UV/LED Gel Nail Lamp. The lamp operates within a specific wavelength range, and the Gel Polish is specifically formulated to cure within this range to ensure a perfect finish every time. Using different brands or products may not be compatible and could not only result in an ineffective manicure but also cause damage to your hands or nails.

For beautiful, long-lasting nails it’s essential you follow the proper application process, using the Gelous Base Coat, Colour Coat and Top Coat, curing each coat for 60 seconds with the Gelous UV/LED Gel Nail Lamp. If you skip the Base or Top Coat, or try to dry your nails without the Gel Nail Lamp, your manicure or pedicure will not adhere to your nails properly or dry, and could result in under-cured polish that can damage your nails.

Other ways to keep your nails and hands healthy and safe before, during, and after Gel Manicures

  • Apply Cuticle Oil and a Hydrating Hand Cream regularly to keep your hands nourished.
  • Dispose of Gelous Orangewood Cuticle Sticks after use. These cannot be disinfected, so it is unhygienic to use them multiple times.
  • Replace your Gelous Nail File approximately every three months if you’re a regular user. Keeping it any longer can lead to nail damage (as the buffing plates wear down) and a build-up of bacteria.
  • Carefully read our Application & Removal Guides before use, or watch our handy step-by-step video tutorials on our Youtube channel.
  • Remove your Gel Nail Polish according to the Gelous Removal Guide. Avoid picking at your Gel Nail Polish, as you will inevitably peel away part of your natural nail, leaving it thin and weak.
  • Avoid getting back-to-back gel manicures. This break will allow your nails to rehydrate and repair. We recommend a break of at least 1-2 weeks.
  • Be careful not to over-file the nail plate as it may cause sensitivity.
  • Avoid touching your skin with Gel Nail Polish and if you do, make sure to wipe it off immediately before curing. Curing Gel Nail Polish on your skin can cause mild to serious irritation.
  • Do not use if you have extremely short nails or if your nails are in poor condition (thin, dry or split). We recommend using Cuticle Oil and The Aromatherapy Co Hand Cream until your nails are in a better condition for a gel manicure.

When used correctly, LED Gel Nail Lamps, LED UV Gel Nail Lamps, and UV/LED Gel Nail Lamps are all safe options for achieving a beautiful, long-lasting manicure or pedicure. By following the guidelines outlined in this post, such as curing each coat for the recommended time and using the correct Gel Nail Polish, you can ensure that your gel nails are applied and cured safely. With proper usage and care, you can enjoy flawless, healthy nails for weeks to come!

Get your Gel Nail Polish and Gel Manicure Kits now, with free shipping on orders over $100 throughout New Zealand including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Tauranga and more! We also ship throughout United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Europe and the rest of the world with free shipping available. 

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