Written by Gel Nails

Right Way of Curing Gel Nails With LED Lamp, Flashlight, etc.

Can I use any LED light to cure gel nail polish

LED lamp or flashlight is a common thing that lies around our home and if that can be used in curing nails effectively, then we will no longer need to spend money on curing lamps. Curing refers to the process of hardening your gel polish so that you don’t end up with ugly crease marks or chipped nail polish after a fantastic manicure.

Clearly, if you don’t get the nails appropriately cured, soon their beauty will fade. Cured nails also give you a better finish and texture. However, the question is, LED lamp or flashlight whichever you pick, will that be sufficient in curing your nails?

Exposing your skin to UV rays can be frightening hence you need to keep in mind several dos and don’ts before curing your nails with just any light!

I am covering all the crucial tips here, including why you must follow some safety measures.

As, you are curing your nails at home, without the supervision of a professional, make sure you read our detailed guide on curing nails with LED light.

Table Of Content:

Can I use any LED light to Cure Gel Nail Polish?

LED light can cure or harden the nail polish within 30-60 seconds. But not just any LED light. To understand which LED light is perfect in curing nails, you need to have a clear idea on how an LED works with your polish.

The light targets the photoinitiators, a particular type of chemical compound in the polish to cure it as fast as possible.

The light-emitting diodes from the LED lamp activate the photoinitiators in the gel polish. The exposure results in the production of a free radical that sets off a series of chain reactions and hardens the polish.

While choosing a LED light, to cure your nails effectively opt for at least 36 Watts. A lamp fixed with a higher watt bulb cures gel polish within a couple of seconds. That’s why most salons prefer getting such LED lamps over standard UV light lamps.

Can I Use an LED Flashlight to Cure Gel Nails?

curing gel nails with led flashlight

LED flashlight is a portable and handheld flashlight. It can be a useful tool when you take part in any outdoor activity involving a lot of adventure. But if you are planning to use the LED flashlight to cure your gel nails, it is a bad idea.

A vast majority of the LED flashlights use a blue LED emitting light. The presence of a phosphor coating converts the blue light to other primary light colors such as red, blue, and green. This results in an overall appearance of white light.

On the other hand, a LED lamp used for curing gel nails does not have any phosphor coating. That enables the light-emitting diodes to target the photoinitiators in the gel nail polish. This triggers the curing process.

So always opt for a good LED lamp to cure the nails and don’t settle for flashlights. You cannot cure gel nails using a flashlight. Using the appropriate tools for curing the nails ensure that your manicure lasts long and looks great.

What Happens if You Don’t Cure Gel Polish?

Durability is one of the reasons many opt for gel polishes over regular polishes. No one wants to spend time getting a manicure, only to watch it chipping horribly as you start your everyday activities.

Curing the gel polish properly adds an extra layer of longevity to your beautiful manicure.

If you skip the curing process, the polish stays as a sticky goop on your nail bed, giving it a horrible look. Since the oxygen in the air will prevent the gel molecules from binding together, the polish stays soft. You can even make impressions on your nails.

Apart from being an unpleasant sight for obvious reasons, uncured gel polish can reduce the durability of your manicure. You can opt for other ways to cure the polish. However, without proper curing achieved through an LED lamp, you cannot complete the look you are yearning for.

Is UV or LED better for Gel Polish?

Is UV or LED better for gel polish

The primary difference between a UV lamp and a LED lamp used for curing gel nails depends on the type of radiation from these lamps.

UV lamps emit a broader wavelength of light. LED lamps emit a smaller yet targeted wavelength.

In order to cure the gel nail polish properly, the photoinitiators in the polish must be attacked with direct UV wavelengths. In most cases, LED lamps cure the gel polish much faster compared to a regular UV lamp. That’s actually the USP of LED lamps.

LED lamps are a better choice since they accelerate the curing process. UV lamps take at least 8-10 minutes to cure gel nail polishes. On the other hand, LED lamps take 30-45 seconds.

LED lamps also last much longer compared to UV lamps. You don’t have to replace the bulbs at the same frequency. On average, UV bulbs need replacement after approximately 10,000 hours of use. Without the replacement, you may find it challenging to achieve the right finish on your nails.

Broken UV bulbs can also emit harmful mercury vapors, posing a severe threat to your health. In contrast, LED bulbs last for up to 50,000 hours. These bulbs also consume a lesser amount of electricity.

In the longer run, LED lamps are also more cost-effective. However, LED lamps may not cure all brands of nail polishes, as well as UV lamps.

What Nail Polish Can I Use With an LED Lamp?

Many people are not fans of gel nail polish. Yet, they want a manicure that will last long and withstand the stress of daily activities like opening your wallet or doing the dishes. That’s why you may feel tempted to cure your regular polish too.

The question is — can LED lamps work with other types of nail polishes too? The LED lamp’s primary job is to target the photoinitiators in the gel polishes to set off a chemical reaction. This actually results in the hardening of the polish.

So if you use a regular polish and top it off with gel or shellac polish, you can still use the LED lamp for curing. Regular polish on its own, lacks the essential chemical compounds. That’s why the LED lamp won’t be able to act on the regular polish as effectively as a gel polish.

Can Gel Polish Dry On its Own?

If you are not a big fan of salon visits but love flaunting gel nails, you may be wondering if an LED lamp is really necessary for curing the nails. Unfortunately, if you try to air dry gel nail polish, the oxygen in the air can be a spoilsport.

The oxygen prevents the gel molecules from the polish to come together and harden. That’s precisely what an LED lamp handles. The photoinitiators, when attacked with the light, emit a free radical.

The free radical sets off a reaction that brings all the resins and molecules of gel polish together. If you don’t use the lamp and leave your gel polish to air dry, it will never fully harden, regardless of the time.

So unless you want to end up with wet and soft gel nails that are full of impressions and streaks, don’t skip using the LED lamp. Curing makes sure that your gel polish sets appropriately.

Will Gel Nail Polish dry in Sunlight?

Most gel polishes need special LED lamps for curing. Unless the molecules in the gel polish harden completely, you run the risk of wet nails. But can sunlight, which is a source of UV rays, help in curing the gel polish?

will gel polish dry in sunlight

We need to be mindful of the distance between the sun and us. While a curing lamp is only a few inches away from your nails, the sun is several miles away. Even though the sun is an excellent source of UV rays, it may not be possible to cure the gel polish completely by simply exposing it to sunlight.

You will also find it challenging to decide the precise wavelength of these sun rays. The LED lamp, on the other hand, gives you complete control. That’s why most nail technicians advise against curing gel nail polish in the sunlight.

Having said that, there are a few brands in the market that produce gel polish without chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, BHA, and other chemical solvents. Such gel polishes may be cured in the sunlight. However, the texture and appearance may vary compared to regular gel polishes.

How to dry Gel Nail Polish without an LED lamp?

In case you are not a big fan of an LED lamp but want to flaunt gel nails, there are some useful hacks you can try out. However, bear in mind that the results achieved through these methods will never match the quality of curing by LED lamps. 

LED lamps trigger a chemical reaction in your nails, but the other ways cannot do the same. Once you apply the gel polish and it has started drying a little, dunk it into an ice bath.

You have to be extremely swift. Otherwise, you may end up with a smudged manicure.

You can also invest in a quick-drying spray. Apply the spray from a distance and allow the nails to dry naturally. If you don’t have a spray handy, you can also use your regular hairspray.

You can also allow the nails to air dry. However, this may take a lot of time. Depending on the humidity levels, you may even end up with soft and wet nails.

Lastly, applying thinner coats of the gel polish may be helpful.

Allow the first coat to dry off completely before applying the next one. The layering can help you achieve a better finish.

What Happens if You Over Cure Gel Nails?

Exposing your gel nails to a very high intensity LED lamp or leaving your nails under a lamp for an extremely long duration is not the right move. 

You may think that it will help with hardening the nails. However, in reality, you will end up with a set of over cured nails.

Over cured nails lead to a host of issues. You may end up damaging the nail bed completely. You can also experience an adverse reaction in the skin around your nails. Removing over cured nails can also be very painful.

How Do I Know If My Gel Polish is Cured?

This is a common issue many face because it can be difficult to tell exactly when your polish is cured. Luckily, there are some hacks to tell you whether the curing is over.

Place a small piece of plastic on your nails and rip it off. If the bottom is smooth to touch, curing is complete. If it is sticky or you can make impressions with your fingers, it still needs curing.

You can also use fingers from the other hand to gently tap on the nails that are getting cured. If you can hear a sharp sound, your nails have hardened sufficiently. If not, you still need to leave them under the LED lamp for a couple of seconds more.

Is LED light Safe for Nails?

If you worry about the safety of your nails as you place them under an LED lamp, you are not alone. Many wonder if this is a good idea given the lousy reputation gathered by UV rays over the years.

Remember that an LED lamp accelerates the drying time of these gel polishes. In fact, some polishes need just a few seconds to dry. In most cases, an LED lamp can cure your nails completely under 60 seconds.

So you are exposing your nails to UV light for a short duration. Since LED lamps take lesser time than traditional UV models, exposure to UV rays is even lesser.

And guess what? According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, LED lamps are safe to use as they emit a negligible amount of UV rays. Since gel manicures are impossible without using a LED lamp, it is heartening to know that you don’t damage your health just because you are exposed to an LED lamp.

What Wattage LED Lamp do I Need for Gel Nails?

For starters, please remember that any wattage of an LED lamp can do the job. However, if you choose an LED lamp with an extremely low wattage bulb, you will need to spend an extraordinary amount of time to cure your nails.

A standard 32 or 36 wattage bulb is perfect for curing your nails in a few seconds. Your salon may even use an LED lamp with a 60 wattage bulb that cures gel polishes in a blink of an eye.

Regardless of whether it is for a salon or personal use, when you are opting for an LED lamp, make sure to choose one with the right wattage. Otherwise, you will have to spend much longer than expected to achieve perfectly cured nails.

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