WONDERING where to buy the best nail lamps? We've put five to the test, in search of that perfect at-home manicure.
There's nothing like the luxury of salon-fresh nails, but all those visits can add up – especially with the cost of living so high right now.
Luckily though, if you're not willing to sacrifice on your regular mani and pedi just yet, then investing in your very own nail lamp is the perfect solution.
These days, there are some affordable options – as well as pricier lamps loved by the pros – which will cure your gels in no time, enabling you to get the results of the salon from the comfort of your own home.
Plenty come as full kits too, so you'll have everything you need to get started, whether you're a novice or a gel connoisseur.
Read on for our honest verdict on the best nail lamps out there now.
4 Pro Salon Series LED Lamp Convex Credit: News Corp Pro Salon Series LED Lamp Convex, £49.99 from Amazon – buy here Pros: 15, 30 and 60-second curing, quick to use, removal base for pedicures, compatible with lots of different gel brands, shiny, bump-free finish Cons: Removal tray means you need a flat surface Most read in Product Reviews IT’S ALL DRY 10 Best dehumidifiers 2023 UK – we tried and tested the top models YOU’VE PULLED 7 best beer dispensers UK 2023: we tested the best beer pumps and machines garden gifts The best advent calendars for gardeners you can get in 2023 HOLD TIGHT 13 Best Tights for Women 2023 UK; tried and tested Rating: 5/5
One of the leading brands in nail care, the Mylee Pro is the home lamp you're likeliest to find in your local nail bar.
It's designed to cure nails super-quick – like 15 seconds quick – thanks to its Innovative Convex Technology, and it comes with a detachable tray which means it can handle at-home pedicures, too.
The LED bulbs are positioned to ensure even light distribution, and there are three timers pre-sets for 15, 30 and 60-second cures.
It's compatible with all your fave gel nail brands, like OPI, Essie, Gelish and CND Shellac, and it even comes with UK, US and EU plugs for easy travel portability – it's so good, even the pros love it.
We've tried the Mylee Pro and found it delivers on its salon-like promise.
The set-up is simple with easy-to-understand instructions, and the kits include everything you need – so there's no need to buy extra products.
The lamp itself is wide enough for you to fit your whole hand (so you don't have to do it in time-consuming stages), but is small enough to store easily, and easy to assemble. Just simply attach the magnetic tray and plug it in.
The purpose of the detachable tray is to allow you to remove it and make more space if you're painting your toes, which is useful when giving yourself a pedicure, but it means the tray will fall off when giving yourself a manicure if you're using it on anything but a flat surface.
Used with the Mylee varnishes (there are around 200 different shades to choose from), the lamp provides a shiny, bump-free finish that lasts. A week in, the manicure has lasted with no annoying peel or lift from the nail and delivers a professional-looking finish that would easily pass for salon results.
Just make sure you're super light-handed with the layers, as thinner layers will last longer. Using actual Mylee Gel, you could get about three weeks out of your mani.
'Replaced my older model UV lamp as it just seemed to be a bit hit and miss,' writes one five-star review, adding: 'I’m delighted. My nails are lasting so much longer and it’s taking half the time to do! Highly recommend!'
Power source: Mains, Dimensions: 16cm x 20.5cm x 10.5cm, Curing time: 15, 30, or 60 seconds, Lamp type: LED Rio Salon Pro UV & LED Lamp Rio Salon Pro UV & LED Lamp, £39.99 from LookFantastic – buy here Pros: Fast curing, sleek design, affordable, 4 different curing time options, UV and LED Cons: It doesn't come with polishes Rating: 5/5
Rio is well-known in the nail lamp scene and their Salon Pro UV & LED Lamp will look so cool on display in your bedroom. It's sleek and modern-looking, and won't take up a lot of space.
The actual manicure it produces is flawless, too. There are 15 long-life LED light bulbs inside which equates to over 50,000 hours (a lot of manicures!), made to cure both UV gels and LED gel formulations. You can even use it on your nail extensions.
The gadget has a smart sensor which gives you the option of 30 or 60 seconds, or you can just leave it under the lamp to cure for 90 seconds. We love that it has no base, making it easy to stick your toes under the lamp to give yourself a gel pedi without being too squished.
The one downside to this lamp though, is that it doesn't come with any top or base coats or polishes – so you'll have to buy your own separately.
'Cures my nails perfectly. Easy to use, glad I bought it,' says one five-star review.
'Just saved my life. This lamp is incredibly amazing and professional. Worth the money,' writes another.
Power source: Mains, Dimensions: 31.7 x 18.3 x 12.7cm, Curing time: 30, 60 or 90 seconds, Lamp type: UV & LED READ MORE: GHD Platinum Plus Review Best curling wands for short hair Best shampoos Best GHD straighteners Best beauty boxes 14 Day Mani Signature Gel Polish Starter Kit 14 Day Mani Signature Gel Polish Starter Kit, £167 £79 from 14 Day Mani – buy here Pros: One tree is planted for every order, easy to remove, stays on for up to three weeks, cruelty-free, shiny finish Cons: None Rating: 5/5
14 Day Mani is an Irish at-home gel manicure brand, with its Gel Manicure Starter Kit promising to keep your nails looking nail salon fresh for two weeks. When the brand landed in the UK back in March, we were lucky enough to be able to try it out — and still use it every single weekend.
This kit was our first experience using an LED lamp (outside of our local nail bar, of course) and we found the experience to be incredibly straightforward and speedy.
To prep, all you need to do is push back your cuticles, and shape and buff your nails. Then, apply one layer of the base coat and cure for 30 seconds, one to two layers of the coloured polish of your choice (the brand sells more than 400 different shades) and cure each layer for 30 seconds.
Finally, apply the No Wipe Top Coat and cure for another 30 seconds to complete your mani. From start to finish, it'll take around 15 minutes.
While we're notoriously bad at painting our own nails, the results were much neater than if we had used regular polish. Plus, the top coat leaves you with an incredible shine. We didn't think we'd be able to achieve such an (almost) perfect finish.
While it's true that the polish will stay on your nails for 14 to 21 days (we tested this out on a recent holiday), it's really simple to take off the polish yourself with the included acetone remover if you fancy switching shades. Our go-to shades are Wet N Wild and Slipper Satin — they're the perfect soft pink and white.
And if you're concerned about the UV exposure that comes with using an LED/UV lamp, you don't need to be. The brand insists that, because this 54W lamp cures really fast, you'll get minimal UV exposure. But if you want to be extra safe, you can apply a high SPF on your hands before use.
Plus, it also has serious professional credentials, 14 Day Mani is currently used at all gel manicure treatments at London-based salon Duck & Dry, so booking a treatment there is a great option if you want to test the shades out before you buy the at-home kit.
One impressed shopper writes: 'I get my nails done fairly regularly, and, being an at-home DIY alternative, wasn’t expecting miracles. However, the quality is absolutely amazing.
'I followed the instructions to the letter, left with a flawless finish. On day 5, all perfect. Beautiful colour selection also. This the way, you can’t go wrong.'
Power source: Mains, Dimensions: 22 x 20 x 8cm, Curing time: 10, 30, or 60 seconds, Lamp type: LED Leighton Denny TOP THAT! Start-Up Kit Leighton Denny TOP THAT! Start-Up Kit, £65 from Leighton Denny – buy here Pros: Small size for travelling, extends the life of a regular manicure, comes with nail care accessories Cons: Small size isn't ideal for toes or long fingers, time setting isn't adjustable, only one option, no base coat or nail polish, 30-minute wait before cure, very time-consuming Rating: 3/5
Leighton Denny's UV manicure kit is the most compact of them all, making it the best choice if you haven't got much space or are planning to travel with your lamp. However, weirdly, it's not meant for gel nail polish. It's actually just meant to extend a normal polish manicure up to 14 days — which is a great idea if you're not a fan of gel or want something a bit kinder to the nails.
To apply, you need to do the regular prep (clean hands, push back cuticles, and then use the TOP THAT! GEL Cleanser), and then apply a base coat. This kit doesn't come with a base coat though, so you'll need to buy one separately. Then, apply a couple of thin coats of regular — not gel — nail polish (also not included), leaving the first coat to dry before applying another layer.
Then – and this is where it gets a little time-consuming – you have to wait up to 30 minutes for the polish to dry before applying the TOP THAT! GEL Topcoat and curing under the lamp for one minute.
Unlike the other lamps, this one doesn't have any buttons. As soon as you put your hand in, it sets a timer to cure your nails for 30 seconds. So you'll have to take your hand out and put it back in for another round to cure for 60 seconds. The brand also advises curing your thumb separately from your fingers, as they won't all fit under the lights of this small lamp at once.
Finally, you have to apply the TOP THAT! GEL Cleanser with a lint-free pad to remove the sticky residue and leave a pretty shine.
We tested this with a regular polish and can confirm that it did extend our manicure and make it feel as if we had a gel manicure. We were really impressed, but we would prefer to use a gel polish in the future as it's much quicker and the manicure lasts the same amount of time (if not, longer). However, this is the perfect lamp for someone who wants a gel-like manicure that is gentler on the nails.
'This is almost as good as a salon gel and very easy to use. It's lasted about ten days so far with only a couple of very small chips and I've done everything as normal,' writes one shopper review.
Power source: Mains, Dimensions: 17 x 12 x 6cm, Curing time: 30 seconds, Lamp type: UV Le Mini Macaron Le Maxi Deluxe Gel Manicure Set Le Mini Macaron Le Maxi Deluxe Gel Manicure Set – USB Plug, £60 from Nail Polish Direct – buy here Pros: Pretty design, quick and easy to apply, vibrant gel polish, compact, affordable, comes with remover pads Cons: Lamp only cures one finger at a time, long-term use probably not good for your nails, only comes with one colour (have to buy more separately)
We absolutely love the macaroon-inspired design of the Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit – especially the mini size, as it's so compact that you can keep it tucked away until you need to use it again.
After seeing four colours – Coconut Yoghurt, Cherry Red, Spiced Chai and Cassis – we can confirm that every one is as vibrant and shiny as the next, giving Le Mini Macaron 10/10 for quality polish.
It's easy to apply too: you only need one coat before placing it under the little macaroon heater, which dries it ridiculously quickly in the space of 30 seconds. You repeat that with each nail, which ends up being a speedy application. No more boring waiting-to-dry time.
Our favourite thing about the Le Mini Macaron Gel Manicure Kit is that it comes with everything you need, from the cuticle stick, to the nail file and remover pads, ideal for both age-old beauty lovers and first-timers.
For £60, you definitely can't fault Le Mini Macaron's Gel Manicure Kit for giving you a glossy, long-lasting manicure – our Cherry Red nails stayed immaculate even after cooking, walking the dog, and working out. Though there was one scratch which we're putting down to our beginner's skills.
Power source: USB power adaptor, Dimensions: 19.2cm x 20.3cm x 8.8cm, Curing time: 30 seconds, Lamp type: LED Which is better: a UV or LED nail lamp?
LED lamps are typically thought of as better than UV lamps, for several reasons.
UV and LED nail lamps both cure gel polish, but LED lamps are faster because they produce narrower wavelengths. According to the Mylee website, a layer of gel polish will take around 2 minutes to fully cure with a UV lamp, but 30 seconds for an LED lamp. LED lamps can cure gel nail art within 15 seconds, too.
Plus, LED lamp bulbs last longer. They'll last 5,000 to 10,000 hours normally (the Mylee one lasts an impressive 50,000 hours), whereas a UV lamp will only last for around 4,000 hours.
Where to buy the best nail lamps in the UK?
At-home professional manicures and pedicures are more popular than ever, so the good news is: the best LED and UV lamps are readily available from a selection of places.
You can shop yours from department stores, designated beauty retailers, nail that product brand websites, and a range of online retailers. Check out our favourites:
Cult Beauty Look Fantastic Amazon 14 Day Mani Leighton Denny Sephora Nail Polish Direct Argos Beauty Bay Very Cult Beauty How much do gel nail lamps cost?
Like anything, the price of a gel nail lamp varies from brand to brand. Typically, LED lamps tend to be a bit more expensive than UV lamps, but on average you can expect to spend around £25 to £100 on a gel nail lamp.
In our picks, the most expensive lamp we tried was the
14 Day Mani Signature Gel Polish Starter Kit at £79, while the cheapest was the Rio Salon Pro UV & LED Lamp at just £39.99 from LookFantastic. Should I p14-Dayscreen on my hands before using a nail lamp?
According to nail expert and 14 Day Mani ambassador, Julita Fagan, sunscreen is not necessary. S
he explains: 'Given the short period of use of a nail lamp during each stage of your gel polish application (30-60 second intervals per hand), using sunscreen before using a nail lamp is not a requirement.
'Sunscreen may also act as a contaminant if not properly removed from your nail beds before applying your gel products, and can lead to improper curing.
'Should there be concerns when considering the use of a nail lamp, I would recommend wearing UV protection nail gloves instead.'
What UV lamps do nail salons use?
Some of the nail lamps on our list can actually be spotted at official nail salons.
In general, LED lamps are known for making your nails dry faster than UV which also means that the whole proafer because your skin is being exposed to the light for less time too.
From Mylee to the Manicurist, there are tons of salon-worthy nail lamps available online.
Can you use an LED lamp with regular nail polish?
If you’re careful and very patient, you can.
LED lamps can't technically be used to dry normal nail polish. But, those who want to make their favourite nail varnish last longer can put a gel top coat over it.
Before applying your top coat, always make sure your nail varnish has dried completely. If the solvents aren't fully dry, the topcoat could just slip right off.
Then you can use either a UV or LED drying lamp to cure the top coat. This technique means you won't be limited to the colour selection of gels and it should also come off easily.
But do bear in mind that if you don't do it correctly (by applying the top coat too quickly), you won't get the benefits.
Nail expert and 14 Day Mani ambassador, Julita Fagan, adds: 'Nail varnish is hardened by air drying, or the process can be quickened with the use of an air nail dryer. Nail varnish often requires more patience for overall completion without the risk of error, hence why gel-based polishes have also become quite popular over the years.
'The beauty of nail varnish lies in its accessibility, as well as its ease of application and removal.'
Are UV nail lamps safe?
When choosing whether to go for an LED drying lamp or a UV one, you should consider that the former has a faster drying time, giving your nails less exposure to intense light.
Furthermore, UV radiation has been scientifically proven to lead to skin cancer and it can also cause other skin damage, leading to premature ageing.
Generally, though, UV nail lamps are classified as very low risk and they won't burn your nails if you're using one that has been approved for use.
Nail expert and 14 Day Maniassador, Julita Fagan explains: 'UV/ LED lamps are safe for personal use at home. Most gel-based brands will also supply their own version of UV/ LED lamps for purchase.
'It is recommended to use the nail lamp that is associated with the brand of gel products being used.'
What wattage nail lamp is best?
The wattage of most nail lamps starts from around 32 watts, which is enough to cure your gel nail polish.
Higher wattages are not necessarily going to be the best around, it all depends on the quality of the make.
What is the difference between UV and LED nail lamps?
Gel manicures last two to three weeks and you can find virtually any colour you’re after in a gel nail polish shade. The polish is painted on before being cured under a UV or LED nail lamp – leading lots of people to wonder what the difference is between the two.
In a nutshell: LED lamps can cure gel polish in under 45 seconds, while UV lamps take two or three minutes.
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As Julita Fagan, nail expert and 14 Day Mani ambassador, explains: 'While traditionally, UV nail lamps were created to cure gel-based products, this has been modified over the years to better suit our health needs.
'Most quality nail lamps of today use LED lights for decreased exposure to UV rays. LED nail lamps cure gel polish faster, have a longer lifespan, and are less harmful to the skin.'
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