LED Nail Lamps. Do They Really Work? Spoiler Alert … Holy crap, YES they do.

One of my most used Christmas presents ever is the LED Nail lamp because it’s one of the rarest products in the world … one that actually DOES what it says it’s going to do! The at  home LED Nail lamp actually works.

Overhead shot of an at home LED Nail lamp surrounded by polish, cotton balls and orange stick.

Skip right to the Quick tutorial.

At the end of my forearms I have been blessed with the delicate bone structure of a sparrow.  Two very elegant, ladylike wrists.

They’re the kind of wrists you might see in a faux diamond bracelet commercial or being spritzed with floral and candy notes in a Mariah Carey perfume ad.

Protruding from those wrists are two blobs of man hands.  The kind you might see splashing on Old Spice or breaking the neck of a Wildebeest.

Close up shot of hands clenched into fists, knuckles bleeding with abrasions.

They are the stubby, square palmed, short fingered hands of a doer. I can deal with having man hands; they’ve served me well holding up to the daily DIY punishment I put them through.  What I can’t deal with is doing my nails only to have them look like a wreck a day later. Even THOUGH if my nails are grown and done my hands look one trillion times better.  They look almost … well, not like a woman’s hands but at least better than regular man hands.

Once I do my nails my hands are elevated from barbarian to  “B” level Drag Queen. “A” levels like Ru Paul would chop their hands off before they got on a stage with my stumpy digits.

Bloodied knuckles on dirt covered hands.

So I do my nails.  Precisely 3 hours later my hands look as though I have indeed snapped the neck of a Wildebeest and then repeatedly filed the tops of my nails with its broken teeth. 

I am not the kind of woman who can maintain nice nails. 

So, what’s a man handed girl to do?  Get an LED nail lamp.  My sister Fish Pedicure (aptly named for the horror she endured while receiving a Fish Pedicure in Thailand) gave me one of these nail lamps a few years ago for Christmas and I was STUNNED when it actually worked.  I did my nails, cured them under the lamp and 2 weeks later they were still PERFECT.

An LED Nail light is just a plastic box with a bunch of tiny UV bulbs inside and a reflector on the bottom. 

Hand holding up an LED nail lamp so you can see the inside filled with tiny LED lights.

 

And I am here to tell you that if you’re thinking about buying one one of these little nail polish curing lamps, but weren’t sure if they’d work …

At home LED nail lamps work.

And they work really well.  I’m stunned.

Here’s how it works and what it costs.

YOU NEED:

1 LED/UV nail lamp —————————————– $27 US
Shellac or Gel polish for use with LED nail lamp
– Base coat —————————————————- $15 US
Colour (I used Black Pool) —————————— $15 US
Top coat —————————————————— $15 US
Shellac/Gel polish Remover —————————— $  5 US
Isopropyl Alcohol 99% (Rubbing Alcohol) ————- $ 4 US

TOTAL INITIAL INVESTMENT ————————— $81 US

HOW TO APPLY POLISH WITH LED NAIL LAMP

  1. Gather everything you need.

Overhead shot of SUNone LED Nail lamp, polish, cottonballs set on a marble slab.

2. Apply Base Coat of Shellac/Gel polish to one hand.

Hand spread open, applying clear base coat polish to nails.

3. Cure polish under LED lamp for 60 seconds.

Overhead shot of hand curing nails in LED nail light.

4. Repeat on other hand.

5. Apply coat of colour to one hand, being careful not to touch the cuticle (this will impede the curing process)

Applying coat of black shellac polish to nails.

6. Cure polish for 60 seconds.  Repeat on other hand.

Putting hand with black polish into LED nail lamp.

7. Apply a second coat of colour and repeat curing process. (60 seconds each hand)

8. Apply top coat and repeat curing process. (60 seconds each hand)

9. When all coats are applied and cured, wipe each nail with a cotton ball soaked in 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. this remove the sticky finish that will be on your nails.

Rubbing fingernail with cotton ball soaked in 99% isopropyl alcohol.

10. Your nails are now done! Completely cured and dry ready for you to do anything.  No waiting for them to harden up, no worrying about “just having done your nails”.  Seriously go scrub some pots or tie your shoes.  Nothing’s gonna happen.

This is immediately after doing my nails with the LED lamp.  Yes. Dry hands. I know.

Close up shot of fingernails painted black. Hand is dry.

2 WEEKS LATER THIS IS WHAT MY NAILS LOOKED LIKE.

 

Shot of hand with black polish 2 weeks after using LED nail lamp.

There’s a tiny bit of wear on the tips and of course they’ve grown out from the cuticle.

 


Quick Reference on how to use an LED nail lamp

How to Use LED Nail Lamp

How to Use LED Nail Lamp

Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

A simple guide on how to use an LED Nail Lamp.

Materials

  • LED Nail Lamp
  • Shellac or Gel nail polish for curing
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Orange stick (optional for cleaning up edges of nails)

Instructions

  1. Lay out your materials: UV light, base coat, colour, top coat, orange stick, cotton balls, 99% isopropyl alcohol
  2. Clean hands and nails well.
  3. Apply base coat, cure under LED lamp for 60 seconds
  4. Apply 2 coats of colour, cure for 60 seconds after each coat.
  5. Apply your final top coat, cure 60 seconds
  6. Wipe nails with cotton ball soaked in 99% isopropyl alcohol.
  7. Done! Your nails are now rock hard and ready to do anything.

Notes

Can you use this with regular nail polish? Yes and no. Regular nail polish won't cure under these lights. But, if you have regular nail polish on, you can apply a top coat of Shellac or Gel and cure it under the lamp to make your manicure last longer.

How do you remove Shellac or Gel? It’s a bit of a thing. Rough up the top of your nails a  bit with an emory board to break up the top coat surface.  Then put a cotton ball that’s been soaked in the special gel remover.  THEN wrap each fingertip in tin foil and just let it all soak in for 10-15 minutes.  The polish will then be dissolved enough to come off by scraping it with an orange stick. UV polish doesn't dissolve and remove the same way regular nail polish does. It needs to be scraped off. Gel is easier to remove than Shellac.

Which LED Nail lamp should I buy? I would get one that's 48 watts or more. Also the more UV lights it has inside the better coverage of light you'll get. ONE really handy thing would be to get one of the larger LED Nail Lamps. They cost a bit more, but you can cure both hands at the same time which cuts the time to do your nails in half.

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QUESTIONS/ANSWERS

How do you know how much time to leave your hands under the LED light?  I tested this and found using just a 30 second cure, the polish peeled off after just a few days.  1 minute the polish lasted for 2 weeks before starting to chip and wear a bit. 2 minutes of curing didn’t seem to improve the results so 1 minute seems to be the optimal time.

Which LED Nail lamp should I buy? The lamp I use is the SUNone UV/LED Nail Lamp which can switch between 24 and 48 watts.  Any that are 48 watts should be fine and work.  DON’T spend a lot of money. My light sells for around $25 US on Amazon US or $35 Canadian on Amazon Canada.

Will an LED lamp work with regular nail polish? Yes and no.  You have to use a gel or shellac top coat. So apply your regular polish, waiting for it to air dry between coats and then apply a gel or shellac top coat and cure.  It won’t last as long as if you’re using all gel or shellac products but it’ll help extend a regular type of manicure.

How do you remove gel or shellac polish? It’s a bit of a thing. Rough up the top of your nails a  bit with an emory board to break up the top coat surface.  Then put a cotton ball that’s been soaked in the special gel remover.  THEN wrap each fingertip in tin foil and just let it all soak in for 10-15 minutes.  The polish will then be dissolved enough to come off either by rubbing with the cotton ball or by scraping it away from your nail with an orange stick.

I do NOT baby my fingernails.  I do everything I normally do with these gel or shellac nails; paint a room, scrub pots and pans, fixed a broken chair, snap the neck of a Wildebeest. 

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LED Nail Lamps. Do They Really Work? Spoiler Alert ... Holy crap, YES they do.