The Best UV Nail Dryer

Overview

More than just a little bright-blue light you use at the nail salon to help dry your fabulous manicure, UV nail dryers use different wavelengths of light that emit heat. The heat -- not the light -- helps dry your nails, according to “Nails” magazine. Now that you’re the resident genius at your salon, you can make an informed decision if you want to buy your own UV nail dryer.

What to Look For

When shopping for a UV nail dryer, look for one that has dimples on the base plate. The dimples serve as a guide to let you know where to rest your fingers so that it takes less time to dry your polish. The last thing you want is to smudge your freshly painted nails. If you like using different types of nail polish -- it’s fun to play -- opt for a dryer that has different settings, such as for gels and topcoats. Wattage is also an important consideration. UV lamps have bulbs that range from 4 watts up to 75 watts. Nine watts is a good wattage for a UV nail dryer for personal use. If you have a salon, dryers with 36-watt lamps may be better.

Common Pitfalls

Some UV nail dryers only operate with batteries, which can add a significant cost to your beautification routine. A battery-operated dryer might come in handy, though, if you’re in the middle of the forest and need to manicure a bear. According to Jim McConnell, the lead chemist at Light Elegance, a UV nail dryer is not worth your pretty pennies if you only paint your nails with regular nail polish. Instead, McConnell recommends using a heat lamp and a small fan. It’s not always best to look for a dryer that has its lamps close to the plate because some gel nail products have an exothermic reaction with the heat in the lamp, which can cause a burning sensation on your fingernails. Ouch!

Comparison Shopping

There are two types UV bulb types used in nail dryers: LED lights or compact fluorescent lights -- or CFLs -- which are in traditional UV nail dryers. LED nail dryers give off a shorter UV wavelength than CFLs, but the concentration of light is higher. CFL nail dryers have a broader range of wavelengths, but the concentration of energy is lower. LED lights weigh less, use less power than regular UV nail dryers, and the bulbs last five times longer. The problem with UV LED nail dryers is that you can’t replace the bulbs, unlike regular UV nail dryers, and they cost more.

Expert Insight

An article in “Nails” says that the best UV nail dryer is usually the one your favorite nail-gel company makes, because the photoinitiatorsin in the gel works sweetly with the wavelengths of the UV lamp. Look at your nail gel to see what lamp wattage the manufacturer recommends. Photoinitiatorsin is the chemical in nail gel that absorbs energy from the UV light and hardens, or cures, the product.

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