Gel nail polish is popular for a good reason. It stays on longer and gives a glossy look that other polish just can’t duplicate. If you like to do your own nails, you’ll need a gel nail light to set the gel polish. We’ve gathered some great ones.
Buying Guide for a Gel Nail Light
Why should you buy a gel nail light?
If you don’t want to go a week (or a day) without a good-looking set of nails but would like to save some money, a gel nail light (aka nail lamp or nail dryer) can help. These devices are easy to use and come in a variety of wattages so that you can choose one that makes the most sense for your lifestyle and needs. You can get salon-quality nails at home with a good bottle of gel polish, a good gel nail light, and a few other essentials.
What should you consider when purchasing a gel nail light?
- Watt Power: A higher wattage usually means a faster curing time. However, most polishes will give their wattage recommendations so that you can be sure you’re effectively drying the nail polish on your nails.
- Frequency of Use: Determine how often you will use your nail lamp to help determine how expensive and extensive of an investment you want to make. If you only occasionally do your nails at home, you won’t need a premium product, but if you do other people’s nails for a living or do your own nails every week, you’ll want a nail light that’s up to the task.
- UV or LED: You must have UV light waves to cure gel nail polish properly. However, LED bulbs still emit UV light, and most modern nail lamps utilize LED bulbs since they dry the nail polish faster and are actually gentler on your skin.
What are the steps of an at-home gel manicure?
Doing a gel polish manicure isn’t the same as a couple of quick coats of your regular nail polish, letting it dry, and getting on with your day. It’s a bit more labor-intensive, but the drying time is significantly diminished with the dryer/nail light, and you’re far less likely to have to fix smudged polish. Each gel polish you use will typically have directions on what type of light it takes to dry (UV or LED) and what wattage may be best. You can also find tutorials and suggestions on YouTube or on the product packaging for your polishes and your nail lamp. Essentially, you’ll want to prep your nails properly beforehand, then do one hand or foot at a time. You’ll apply a base coat to your nails, cure them under the lamp (often for 30 seconds), apply the gel polish, cure them again, apply a top coat, and cure them once again. Then, you can add cuticle oil and enjoy your lovely manicure or pedicure!
Our Picks for the Best Gel Nail Light
LKE 40W Gel Nail Polish UV LED Light
This salon-quality nail dryer can make your at-home manicures look like the real deal.
Pros: This is a high-powered nail polish light, running with 240 volts. The LED light is a soft 40 watts, meaning it won’t darken your skin while it’s drying your nail polish. The design is user-friendly, lightweight, and easy to clean, and the curved design blocks the light from your eyes. Once you put your hand into the dryer, it will automatically turn on with its smart sensor. You can set the timer for 30 seconds, 60 seconds, or 99 seconds. This easy-to-use gel nail light dries most types of gel polish, so you can skip the salon and save lots of money without missing a manicure.
Cons: It may take some time adjusting how much time you need for each coat, but once you figure that out, it’s quick and easy to use. It has a lower wattage than others.
Bottom Line: This gel nail dryer is good enough for the salons to use but affordable enough for you to use in your own home. Once you get the process down, you can use this dryer easily to save you time and money on your manicures.
JEWHITNEY UV LED Nail Lamp 54W
Dry your gel manicures with this lightweight and speedy gel lamp.
Pros: This 54-watt gel nail dryer turns on and off with a sensor. Just slide your hand under it to turn it on, and take your out to turn it off. A large LCD shows you how much time is left on your 30, 60, or 90-second cure. The 18 beads of LED lights are evenly distributed to cure five nails at once. It’s lightweight, which makes it easy to travel with, and it comes with a USB adapter as well.
Cons: It won’t last as long as some other models out there. It might take a little longer to cure than other models, too.
Bottom Line: This gel nail dryer is salon-quality and extra portable with its adapter and lightweight feel. It’s wide enough to quickly and evenly a full hand or foot at once.
SUNUV Gel Nail Light for Nail Polish 48W UV Dryer
This powerful nail light brings the salon to your home.
Pros: Thirty UV/LED beads allow faster dry times than the usual at-home products. It operates on a sensor with timers of five seconds, 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 99 seconds. It comes with a tray, making it ideal for pedicures as well. The manicure manual is filled with vital information to help you get the best possible mani-pedi at home.
Cons: Users with sensitive skin may notice that while it dries nail polish faster, it gets pretty hot and may irritate the skin surrounding the nails.
Bottom Line: You can find this exact model in some salons, and its ease of use makes it a great choice to have at home. The heat of the nail dryer might be too much for some users with sensitive skin, but others enjoy its power and performance abilities.
Sunrich UV 120W LED Fast Gel Nail Dryer
Cute colors and a convenient handle make this nail lamp a great gift.
Pros: This is a strong UV/LED nail dryer with 120 watts of power to make doing your manicures at home quick and easy. It includes a smart sensor to automatically turn on when you slide your hands or feet under it to cure the polish. This model comes with four timer settings: 10, 30, 60, and 120 seconds, making it easy for you to get the timing just right. The handle is a thoughtful feature to make it easy to tote around.
Cons: The cord is short, so it must be used close to an outlet. It’s not used in salons because it’s not as long-lasting.
Bottom Line: If you want the occasional convenience of doing a gel mani-pedi at home, this is a great option. It performs quickly, and users are happy with their results, but it’s better suited for use in between trips to the salon to save money rather than used every week.
GreenLife 54W UV LEDPortable Nail Light
This nail lamp works on both gel and acrylic polish.
Pros: You can use this lamp for drying gel polish, acrylic, and intricate designs with rhinestones. Its versatility is ideal for someone who likes to change up their nail design styles. The three timers make it easy to not only find the right amount of time to dry your nails, but also the specific adjustments that need to be made for the different types of polish and embellishments you use. A smart sensor makes it user-friendly and hands-free to turn on or off.
Cons: It only comes with a USB cord, no wall plug. It doesn’t have as many features as other models.
Bottom Line: This affordable nail dryer is a good buy for the person who uses a variety of nail polishes and embellishments. It’s a simple product that dries nails well but without some of the extra comforts like a handle, removable tray, or wall plug.
As gel manicures have grown in popularity, more and more people want to do their own manicures from home. To get great results without spending as much, buying one of these gel nail dryers is a smart investment for your beauty routine.