What Is The Difference Between Gel And Acrylic Nails? 10 Things To Know

When it comes to fake nails, there are two main options usually available, gel and acrylic. If you’re confused about which one to pick, let me ease your confusion by comparing these two. 

In this blog, you will learn the intricacies of gel and acrylic nails, uncovering their unique characteristics and helping you make the right decision about which type suits your intentions and needs.

After years of practice as a nail technician in various dominant salons, including Rescue Spa, Essie Flagship Salon, Tenoverten, and finally owning The Marisa Beauty Spa, I’ve done synthetic nails for thousands of clients, and I hope to guide you better regarding acrylic and gel nails. 

10 Differences Between Gel and Acrylic Nails 

While both types serve a similar purpose, there are notable differences between the two in terms of application, appearance, durability, maintenance, removal, and many other aspects.

Here’s a detailed comparison between gel nails and acrylic nails.

  1. Composition 

Gel nails are made from a gel-based polish, or you can call it a resin or wax substance that comes in a pot or tube. 

Acrylic nails, on the other hand, are made by combining a liquid monomer and a powder polymer to form a paste-like substance. 

  1. Applications

The gel nails are applied directly to the natural nails or over nail extensions with a brush, followed by curing under a UV or LED lamp to harden and create a stable finish.

Acrylic nails are done by preparing a paste which is then applied to the nails directly or along with tips or forms, followed by air-drying to create a hard and sturdy surface.

  1. Appearance

Gel nails provide a shiny and natural-looking finish. They have a flexible and lightweight feel, similar to natural nails. 

They may be done with a wide range of colors and finishes, including glitter and metallic options.

Acrylic nails tend to retain a thicker and more rigid appearance. They can be shaped and sculpted in order to get various lengths and designs. 

They are usually chosen for their stability and ability to produce dramatic nail extensions.

  1. Durability 

Well, when it comes to durability, no woman would choose a manicure that has to be maintained the other day.

Gel nails are generally less durable than acrylic nails. They are prone to cracking and peeling, especially if exposed to rough activities. 

However, with proper application and maintenance, gel nails can last up to two weeks.

Acrylic nails are famous for their durability and strength. They are less likely to flake or break and can withstand more rigorous activities. They can last up to three weeks or longer with regular fills.

  1. Maintenance 

Gel nails require minimal maintenance. They don’t require you to regularly fill and shape, but you have to keep them hydrated with cuticle oil and avoid using harsh chemicals that can damage the gel.

Acrylic nails require regular maintenance. Fills involve infilling the regrowth area, reshaping the nails, and repainting.

  1. Removal

Gel nails can be removed by bathing them in acetone. The process is soaking cotton balls in acetone, placing them on the nails, and wrapping them with foil or nail clips. 

After about 10-15 minutes, the gel should become soft enough that you easily scrape them off.

Acrylic nails can be removed by either using acetone or filing.  Removal with acetone involves the same process as gel nails.

However, filing needs rubbing the nails with a filing tool to thin the top layer of acrylic until it’s thin enough to be safely removed.

  1. Odor

Gel nail products have a milder odor compared to acrylic nail products. This can make the application process more comfortable, especially for individuals sensitive to strong smells.

Acrylic nail products emit a stronger odor due to the presence of the liquid monomer. Some people may find the smell unpleasant or overpowering.

  1. Flexibility

Gel nails are more flexible compared to acrylic nails. This flexibility makes them withstand minor impacts and bending without breaking. However, excessive force can still cause gel nails to lift or crack.

Acrylic nails are firmer and less flexible than gel nails. They have a more rigid nature which makes them less likely to bend or break under pressure. This rigidity can be an advantage for women with weak or brittle nails.

  1. Natural Nail Health

Gel nail products are considered gentler on natural nails compared to acrylic nail products. The gel application process involves minimal filing and buffing of the natural nails which reduces the potential for damage.

Acrylic nail application demands more extensive filing and buffing of the natural nails to create a suitable surface for the acrylic. This process can thin out the natural nails over time if not performed properly.

  1. Repairability

Gel nails can be repaired if they break by accident. A nail technician can often fix small damages by reapplying gel to the affected area and curing it under the lamp. However, extensive damage may require a full nail replacement.

Acrylic nails are generally easier to repair compared to gel nails and can be done at home. Cracks or breaks can be fixed by filling and reshaping the affected parts with fresh acrylic material.

  1. Cost

The cost of acrylic nails is usually lower because the materials used are less expensive, and the application process is relatively straightforward.

The expense of gel nails is high because the materials used for them, including the gel polish and the lamp, are usually more expensive, which can contribute to a higher overall cost.

FAQs – Difference Between Gel and Acrylic Nails   

What lasts longer gel or acrylic nails?

Acrylic nails last longer than gel nails, as they are more durable and resistant to chipping. However, proper maintenance and care play a significant role in the longevity of both types of nails.

Is gel or acrylic better for weak nails?

Gel nails are usually considered better for weak nails because they provide more flexibility and a lighter feel compared to acrylics. The gel formula is also less damaging to natural nails, making it a preferred option for those with weak or brittle nails.

Why is acrylic better than gels?

Acrylic nails are often considered better than gels due to their durability and strength. Acrylics are known for their ability to withstand daily wear and tear, making them suitable for individuals who are rough on their nails or have a more active lifestyle.

Which is faster gel or acrylic?

Gel nails are usually faster to apply than acrylics. The gel application process involves curing the gel under a UV lamp, which speeds up the drying time. Acrylics require a longer process, involving the mixing of powder and liquid to form a paste that hardens.

Is gel more expensive than acrylic?

Yes, gel nails tend to be more expensive than acrylic nails due to the cost of gel products and the application process that requires specialized equipment like UV or LED lamps.

Conclusion – Difference Between Gel and Acrylic Nails   

Both options offer distinct advantages, so it ultimately comes down to your personal choice. 

Whether you opt for the natural and flexible characteristics of gel nails or the strength and durability of acrylic nails, prioritizing proper nail care and maintenance is key.

We hope this article has helped you gain a better understanding of these fake nails and enabled you to take the right step while selecting between them. 

Marissa Arnold

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