How Long Do You Really Need to Cure Gel Polish – Easy Guide

How Long Do You Really Need to Cure Gel Polish - Easy Guide
How Long Do You Really Need to Cure Gel Polish – Easy Guide

Gel Polishes are one of the easiest ways to DIY create amazing manicures at home that are long-lasting and very durable.

But a lot of people avoid trying gel polishes because they don’t understand the curing process – which is where the gel polish is exposed under a nail lamp to harden and dry.

Now in this article we are gonna explain:

  • How long do you need to have your gel polish exposed under a nail lamp for it to cure completely.
  • And give you some tips on how you can tell if your gel polish has completely cured.

Related Article – Benefits & Disadvantages of Gel Nails – Are They Worth it

How Long to Cure Gel Polish

On average Gel Polishes take around 45-60 seconds to cure using a standard LED UV Nail Lamp. And 2-3 minutes with a UV nail lamp.

How long to Cure Gel Base & Top Coat

Gel Base Coats usually cure within 15-25 seconds. Whilst Gel Top Coats takes around 45-60 seconds to cure.

But when you are not sure it is always better to over cure your gel polish than under curing them.

Type of Gel PolishTime to Cure
Colored Gel Polish45-60 seconds
Gel Base Coat15-25 seconds
Gel Top Coat45-60 seconds
How long to cure gel polishes

Now the exact curing time for gel polishes will vary greatly. This depends on:

  1. The formula of your gel polish
  2. The wattage of the nail lamp
  3. The type of nail lamp that you use
  4. How thick you applied the gel polish

Important Tip

Even when gel polish is cured completely it will still have a natural wet sticky layer – this layer is nothing to be worried about, it just helps the next layer to adhere to it.

Now the sticky layer of the gel top coat will need to be wiped away, Click here to read how to wipe it away.

You can click here to learn how to tell if your gel polish is cured.

1- Formula of The Gel Nail Polish

Every gel polish will be different, so it is absolutely necessary that you read and follow the curing directions of each gel polish.

This is because:

  • Each brand of gel nail polish has its own formula with different levels of photoinitiators which will lead to variation in curing rate. Citation.
  • Also, more pigmented colors tend to require longer curing time.

Now if you want to be on the safe side it is recommended that you cure the gel polish for a bit longer than the directions given.

So if the directions tell you that you need to cure for 30 seconds you can let it cure for 40 seconds.

One of the main reasons why this is recommended is because the directions given would vary based on the type and wattage of the lamp that the brand used and this may differ from your nail lamp.

Curing for a bit longer ensures that the gel polish is cured completely, it is always better to over cure your gel rather than under curing it.

Bonus Tip

If you don’t want too much exposure to UV radiation you can apply sunscreen on your fingers and hands or wear manicure gloves.

Click here to learn more about manicure gloves.

Or read my article on 6 Ways to Protect Hands from UV Lamps- Safer Gel Manicures

2- The Wattage of the Lamp

Wattage refers to how powerful your nail lamp is – meaning how bright the lamp is. The higher the wattage the faster your gel polish will cure.

More wattage means that the lamp will be brighter and more intense allowing the gel polish to cure faster.

Wattage of LED LampCuring Time for Gel PolishCuring Time
for Base Coat
Curing time
for Top Coat
24 Watt60 seconds25 seconds60 seconds
48 Watt45 seconds20 seconds45 seconds
54 Watt45 seconds15 seconds45 seconds
table showing how long gel polish curing will take based on difference in wattage

Related Article – How Much Does Gel Nails Cost & How Much to Remove Them

Recommended LED UV Nail Lamp

I highly recommend getting a high-wattage gel nail lamp. The one that I use is an Anself 64 Watt Pro Nail Lamp, it is a bit expensive but it’s one of the best on the market.

You can click here to see the price for Anself High-Wattage nail lamp on Amazon.

3- Type of Nail Lamp Used

There are two main types of nail lamps either UV nail lamps or LED Nail lamps. UV nail lamps will take 2-3 minutes to cure whilst the UV Led lamps can cure within 60 seconds.

Most gel polishes today use LED Nail lamps which are the most commonly sold lamps.

Now certain old formulas of gel polishes require a UV nail lamp to cure and won’t work with LED Lamps. But these types of gel polishes are becoming less common.

Related Articles – Best Gel Base & Top Coats For Any Brand of Gel Polish

4- The thickness of your gel polish layers

If you apply your gel polishes in thin layers it will cure better and faster than if applied in a thick layer.

This is why you need to apply your gel polishes in two or three thin layers. Meaning you apply a thin layer of gel polish and then cure it and then apply another and then cure it again.

Bonus Tip

I have an entire article where I share 5 Tips to Help Correctly Cure Gel Nail Polish Faster, click here to read it.

What Happens if you Cure Gel Polish for too Long

Curing your gel polish for too long is usually not an issue and wouldn’t cause any significant effect on your gel polish. It is always better to over cure your gel polish or gel rather than under curing them.

Now in my experience, certain low-quality gel top coats can develop a yellowish tinge if you cure them for too long.

But you should be ok with most brands of gel top coats.

Related Article: 6 Reasons Why Your Gel Polish is not Curing & How to Fix

What Happens When You Under Cure Gel Polish

Not allowing your gel polish or gel to cure completely can lead to wrinkling, and dramatically reduce the durability and lifespan of your manicure.

This is because the polymers in the gel didn’t receive enough exposure to UV radiation to polymerize and harden enough to become totally solid.

And instead, the gel polish will remain in a semi-solid state.

Related Article – Why Does Gel Polish Wrinkle – How to Fix & Prevent

Can You Air Dry Gel Nail Polish

Gel nail polish cannot air dry or cure naturally they require strong UV light to harden. Air and heat will not harden gel polishes.

Citation and Sources

The Science of Gels: How Gel Nail Products Work

Nail Polish

Gel Manicures: A Complete Guide to Gel Nails