Understanding the differences between gel and acrylic nails

Understanding the differences between gel and acrylic nails

Gels and acrylics are popular choices for people who want beautiful nails. But what are the disparities between them, and which one is best for you? In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each type of nail enhancement, so you can decide which is right for you.

Advantages of Gel Nails

Gels are more natural-looking

Gel nails are the most natural-looking enhancements that you can have for your nails. They are thin and delicate, making them a good choice for people who want to have beautiful nails without looking too flashy or over the top.

Gels are more durable

Another advantage of gels is that they are more durable than any other nails. In most cases, the durability aspect makes them a perfect choice for people who lead active lives or do a lot of manual labor.

Gels are more hygienic

Gels are also more hygienic since they don’t require the use of any chemicals or bonding agents. This means there is less chance of bacteria building up on your nails when you have them done in a salon.

Disadvantages of Gels

Gels can be expensive

One disadvantage of gels is that they can be quite expensive to have done in a salon. The extravagance varies from one salon to another, depending on the precise location.

Gels require regular upkeep

Your gels need regular maintenance and upkeep. You’ll need to go back to the salon every two to three weeks to have them replaced, so if you can’t afford to do this or don’t have time for it, gels may not be the right choice for you.

Advantages of Acrylic Nails

Acrylics are affordable

Acrylics are probably the most affordable options you can get for nail enhancements. Given that you only need them done every couple of weeks, you can save a good amount of money in the long run. It is always an elegant and cheaper alternative.

Acrylics are long-lasting

Acrylics often last long. This is because they are made of a hard and durable plastic called an acrylic polymer. They can last up to six weeks if you take care of them properly.

Acrylics are easy to care for

Acrylics are very easy to maintain. All you need is the right equipment and proper at-home care to keep them looking their best.

Acrylics suit most women’s hands, regardless of shape or size

Acrylics also suit most women’s hands, regardless of their shape or size. This is because they can be made to look either natural or more flashy, depending on your preference.

Disadvantages of Acrylics

Acrylics can look fake and artificial

One disadvantage of acrylics is that they often look fake and artificial. This is because they are usually quite thick and can be more noticeable than other types of nails.

Acrylics can be difficult to remove

Another disadvantage of acrylics is that they can be difficult to remove. This is because they need to be filed down and then soaked in acetone to come off. If you aren’t familiar with this process, you may do more harm than good to your nails.

Acrylics are not for heavy lifters

Acrylics are also not the most durable option available. They are not suitable for people who lead active lives.

7 Major Differences Between Gel and Acrylics

1. The Pricing

When it comes to pricing, gels tend to be more pricey than acrylics. This is because they require LED or UV lamps which are quite expensive. They also need to be filed down and then soaked in acetone, which increases the price further.

Acrylics are often affordable for most people. This is because they only need to be applied every two to three weeks, and the materials needed are relatively cheap.

2. The Durability

While both are durable, gels are much more durable than acrylics. They can last up to two or three weeks without chipping or peeling, significantly longer than acrylics.

This is because gels are made up of a mix of monomer and polymer, while acrylics are made up solely of polymer. The latter only has one type of material in it makes them weaker and more likely to chip or peel off.

3. The Manicure Process

For acrylics, all you need to do is make sure your hands are clean and dry, after which the nail technician applies a bonding solution before applying the acrylic powder onto each of your nails.

Gel manicures require more stages to be carried out to achieve a perfect look. The technician will first have to clean and shape your nails, apply a base coat and cure it under the UV or LED lamp. They will then add the colour, cure it again, and finally apply a topcoat.

4. The Removal Process

The removal process for acrylics is much easier than gels. You can file them down and then soak them in acetone until they come off.

However, the removal process for gels is a little more complicated. To remove them, you need to have an acetone-soaked pad placed over them for a few minutes. Afterwards, you will have to file the gel down in small circles and then use an orange stick to scoop out any residue that might be left in your nails.

5. The Risk of Damaging Your Nails

The risk of damaging your nails when getting acrylics is fairly high. This is because the acrylic powder is quite thick, and if it’s not applied properly, it can end up lifting your natural nail.

On the other hand, the risk of damaging your nails when getting gels is low. This is because gels are thin and flexible, which makes them less likely to cause any damage to your nails.

6. The Smell

Gels have a stronger odour than acrylics. This is because the chemical solution used to harden them has an extremely strong, pungent scent. Many people are not able to stand it, which is why they prefer getting acrylics instead.

The smell of acrylics is not as strong as gels. It’s barely noticeable to most people.

7. The Shine

Gels tend to have a higher shine than acrylics. This is because they are made up of monomers and polymer, which gives them a more glossy finish.

Acrylics have a more matte finish. This is because they only have one type of material in them, which does not reflect light and the two-part structure of gels.

How to Choose the Best Option Between Gel and Acrylics

Now that you know the difference between the two, what should you choose? Well, the truth is the choice depends on a few factors. Here are some that influence your choice.

Your Nail Type

One of the most important factors that should influence your choice is the condition of your nails. If you have healthy, strong nails, gels are a great option.

However, if you have weak, brittle nails, acrylics might be a better fit for you since they don’t lift your natural nails.

Your Lifestyle

How much are your nails exposed to water or other harsh chemicals? If they will not be exposed to these elements that often, acrylics might be the right option for you since they are less sensitive than gels and, therefore, more durable.

If your nails are often exposed to water or chemicals, then gels might be a better choice since they don’t absorb as much moisture and can therefore stay on for longer.

Your Budget

If you’re low on cash, acrylics might be a better choice because they cost less than gels.

However, keep in mind that acrylics need to be refilled every two to three weeks, while gels last four to six weeks.

So, if you want your nails to look their best for the longest amount of time, then gels would be the better option.

The Time It Takes to Apply

Acrylics are applied by mixing powder with liquid to form a thick solution, then brushed onto the nail.

Gels can be applied either by applying directly to the nail or using a UV lamp that dries them up in seconds. It only takes about 30 minutes to get gels done from start to finish.

Acrylics usually take longer because the solution needs to be brushed onto each nail and cured under a UV lamp. Depending on how much work your manicurist has to do, it can take up to an hour or even more for acrylics to dry up and set.

The Time It Takes to Remove

Removing acrylics is a lengthy process that usually takes over an hour. This is because the nails need to be soaked in acetone until they loosen and can then be pulled off.

On the other hand, gels can be removed within minutes using a special gel remover.

How Sensitive the Nails Are

If you have sensitive nails, gels are a better choice because they form a protective layer around the nail that reduces the risk of damage or breakage.

If you have weak or brittle nails, acrylics might be a better option since they can strengthen your nails and prevent them from bending and snapping.

Your General Preferences

Your preferences matter. Some people prefer gels, while others prefer acrylics. There isn’t a wrong choice here.


Each of the options has its pros and cons. Ultimately, deciding which type of nails to get comes down to personal preference. If you’re not sure which type of artificial nails is right for you, speak to your salon technician or read online reviews. Both gels and acrylics are good choices when it comes to nail enhancements, so if you enjoy having your nails done, consider trying both types before settling on one particular method!

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