If you’re torn between these gel vs. acrylic nails dilemma, we’ve got your back, so don’t worry! Let’s go on a fun adventure to discover what gel and acrylic nails can do and what makes them unique.

Gel nails and acrylic nails are two of the brightest stars in nail art, constantly changing. Acrylic nails have multiple names, such as fake or press-on nails. In the substitute for acrylic nails, there is a gel nail with the same purpose but different methods.

We’ll explain everything you need to know to make the best decision, from nail health to lifestyle fitness and upkeep. So, let’s dive in and discover the perfect manicure that will bring out your inner diva.

In a hurry? Here’s a quick comparison table

Quick Comparison Table: Gel Nails vs Acryic Nails


Gel Nails

  • Made from a gel-based product.
  • Applied and cured under a UV light.
  • Quick and easy application process.
  • Soak-off or file-off removal.
  • Strong and flexible, but not as durable.
  • Chip-resistant lasts around 2 weeks.
  • Less damaging to natural nails if removed correctly.
  • Versatile design possibilities.
  • Usually more expensive.
  • Requires a UV light for curing.
  • Odorless application, no harsh fumes.
  • Ideal for DIY gel manicures.
  • Suitable for those with healthy nails.
  • Requires regular maintenance and refills.
  • Slightly weaker and more prone to lifting.
  • No option for filling grown-out nails.
  • UV exposure during curing, use sunscreen.

Acrylic Nails

  • Created using liquid monomer and powder polymer.
  • Applied with a gummy paste and sculpted with nail forms.
  • Application takes longer and requires shaping.
  • The removal process involves acetone. Extremely durable and long-lasting.
  • Lasts 3 weeks or more with regular fills.
  • Can weaken natural nails due to filing.
  • Limitless design options for creativity.
  • Cost-effective manicure choice.
  • No UV light is needed for the application.
  • Strong fumes during application.
  • More difficult for DIY applications.
  • Better for strengthening weak nails.
  • Long-lasting and less maintenance needed.
  • Highly durable and chip-resistant. Can be filled multiple times.
  • Potentially harmful UV exposure.

What are Acrylic nails?

Acrylic nails, or “liquid and powder” nails, fake nails, or fashion nails, are a beloved choice in nail enhancement options.

Methyl methacrylate is the same sort of acrylic that is commonly used to make dental supplies. These acrylic nails are made by applying a robust and long-lasting layer of polymer powder and monomer liquid to your natural nails. The liquid monomer and powder combine through a process called polymerization to create a powerful bond that strengthens your nails.

The procedure for an acrylic manicure requires little skill. A gummy paste of a monomer-polymer mixture is prepared. Then the skilled nail technicians take this pliable gummy paste and expertly sculpt the desired nail shape on your natural nails, using removable nail forms as guides. Once the substance has dried, the nail forms are carefully removed, revealing your brand-new, perfectly shaped nails.

According to Instyle: Acrylics do not require a lamp to cure, and they’re great for changing the shape or extending your nails. Citation

You can create the design using dual nail forms, paper forms, or nail tips. They can last for weeks, but you must visit the salon for fill-ins when your natural nails grow out.

The design possibilities for acrylic nails are virtually endless. It’s possible to create anything, from traditional works to cutting-edge 3D artwork. Everything from classic works to cutting-edge 3D art is within reach. Acrylics are so adaptable that a talented nail artist may create works of art that perfectly reflect you and your sense of style.

Baby pink Acrylic nails design

Light pink acrylics idea

Advantages of Using Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are the most popular manicure choice regarding nail enhancement options. They have so many appealing benefits that nail art fans can’t help but love them. Let’s explore the fun world of acrylic nails and discover what makes them so popular.

  1. Exceptional Strength and Durability: Nail art using acrylics is like having superpowers because the nails are so robust and last so long. Even the most hectic days don’t phase them; they’re built to last.
  2. Versatile Design Possibilities: Acrylic nails allow you to express your creativity however you want. Skilled nail technicians can use these nails as a blank slate for artwork, including 3D art that directly reflects the wearer’s individuality.
  3. Budget-Friendly Beauty: Looking great is affordable. Acrylic nails come at pocket-friendly prices for nail aficionados who want beautiful manicures.
  4. Long-Lasting Glamour: Acrylic nails support long-term commitments. These nails last weeks, letting you show off your manicure.
  5. Express Yourself: Acrylic nails fit any style, from classic to dramatic. Nail art can reveal your individuality.
  6. Innovative Nail Trends: Acrylic nails remain trendy. Show off your fashion sense with trendy nail art.
  7. Acrylic nails are cheaper than gel nail tips. They are inexpensive since they are made from liquid monomers and powder polymers. While gel nails use expensive liquid resin. So, acrylic nails can save you money without sacrificing style!

Disadvantages of acrylic nails

  1. Strong Fumes During Application: The strong stench from the liquid monomer and powder systems when applying acrylic nails may require fresh air and ventilation.
  2. Potential Lifting and Chipping: Acrylic nails can lift and chip if not applied or maintained properly. They need frequent fill-ins and care to be in good shape.
  3. Time-Consuming Application: Applying acrylic nails takes time. Be prepared for a longer nail enhancement treatment.
  4. Caution for Allergic Reactions: Acrylic nails may not work for sensitive people. Check for allergic reactions to application products.
  5. Need for Proper Maintenance: Maintaining acrylic nails is a grueling job. Regular fill-ins and touch-ups prolong their life.
  6. Less Flexibility in Design Options: Acrylic nails are versatile, while gel nails provide more creative options.

Exploring Gel Nails

Gel nail polish is a fantastic innovation in the history of manicures. It is a nail-polish type that is crafted from a unique gel-based product. In the 1980s, hard gels were used to apply as gel extensions. Since then, other types of gels, such as soft gels and gel polishes, have been developed. LED light cures the pliable gel from a photoinitiator and an acrylates copolymer in this innovative mixture. The result? A glossy, long-lasting manicure that looks great on its own or can be used to make beautiful nail art. With Gel nail polishes, you’ll get a resilient and chip-resistant shine that lasts for weeks. That’s the reason for making them the favorite among nail enthusiasts. When it comes to manicure types, we’ll show you different options with gel nails now.

Soft gel manicure

In a gel manicure, the soft gel polish is put on your nails, and the gel hardens under UV light. This process is done at least twice or more, depending on how opaque you want the color to be and how deep you want the final look.

If you love pink nails, try the Saviland Gel x kit with a wide range of light pink nails. I love this Gel x kit; it has 12 highly pigmented colors and some glitter effects. Also, you’ll get 240 pcs of soft gel nail tips with 10 different sizes to change your daily look easily. Check out some elegant nail art designs from this tutorial and enjoy fun art at home.

Hard gel manicure

Like acrylic nails, hard gel manicures let you customize your nails to any length or shape.

The hard gel requires a bonder, and a base coat must be brushed over your natural nails or extensions before the hard gel is applied. Curing the gel with an LED light reduces the drying time to under a minute, and shaping is unnecessary.

The only real distinction between hard gel and soft gel polish is that the latter allows you to customize your nail shape, while the former is all about receiving a new shade. Both manicures can last at least two weeks with proper care and maintenance.

Gel nail extensions( best alternative to acrylic nails)

You can customize the length and curve of your nails using gel nail extensions. In addition, either conventional or gel polish can be used to provide a beautiful result. The focus is on making unique designs on your nails quickly and stylishly.

Gel extensions are thin and flexible, which is what most people who like to do their nails want. Surprisingly, despite being thin, they are still strong and last long. You can have beautiful nails for up to two to three weeks before you need a nail touch-up or fill-in to keep them looking perfect.

When it comes to how they are put on, gel nail techniques are the best because they are quick and don’t smell. Many people do gel manicures at home instead of going to the salon to save money.

Gel tips manicure

Contrary to common misconceptions, gel tips are made with plastic, not gel, and come in pre-set shapes. These nail shapes can be oval, almond, square, or coffin. Nail technicians use a gel product to attach them to the nail, which is then cured under a UV light to make a strong bond. These clear, full-cover gel tips come in different sizes, lengths, shapes, and thicknesses, which makes them quick and easy to put on.

The pre-set gel nail tip is placed carefully under your nail and fixed in place at the salon. Then, soft or hard gel is put on top and dried until perfect. Once the gel has dried, your manicure will go on as usual, with shaping, polishing, and maybe even some fancy nail art.

Advantages of gel nail extensions

  • Natural Look and Flexibility: Gel nails merge nicely with your natural nails. The manicure technique ensures flexibility and reduces cracking and breaking.
  • Odorless Application Leaves harsh fumes behind! Gel nails don’t smell during application.
  • Quick Curing Time with LED Light: Gel extensions cure quickly using an LED light so that you can show off your manicure.
  • Durable and Chip-Resistant: Gel nails resist chipping and stay glossy for weeks.
  • Suitable for DIY Enthusiasts, DIY gel manicures are fun and easy to master.
  • Added Nail Strength: Opt for hard gel or BIAB to strengthen and protect your natural nails while sporting stunning gel manicures.

Disadvantages of Gel nail extensions

Gel manicures have become increasingly popular, but weighing the pros and cons of getting gel nails is important before committing to this style. Gel extensions include the following drawbacks:

  1. Weaker than Acrylic Nails: Gel nails are more fragile than acrylic nails. Gel nails may not protect weak or brittle nails.
  2. Limited Nail Extensions: Gel extensions are not as long-lasting as acrylic nails. Acrylic nails are ideal for dramatic nail length.
  3. Potential Peeling and Lifting: Corners may peel or lift as gel nails age. Wear and tear or inappropriate use can cause this. Maintenance and aftercare can help.
  4. Inability to Fill Grown-out Nails: Gel nails cannot be refilled like artificial nails. Each application may require further salon appointments and charges.
  5. UV Exposure during Curing: Gel tips require UV curing, which can damage the skin. To reduce dangers, use sunscreen and gloves.
  6. DIY Challenges: DIY gel manicures can yield salon-quality results with practice. Nail technicians can be a great help if you are pretty new
acrylic gel nails orange top coat
source: maritzatorres_nails

Comparing Acrylic and Gel Nails: A Showdown of Gorgeous Manicures

Brittney Boyce, a nail artist and gel extension expert, says the main differences between gel extensions and acrylic nails are the polymerization process, how easy it is to take off, and how dense the nail is.

1. Application: Unlocking the Nail Magic

Acrylic Nails:

The powder and monomer liquid mixture that creates acrylic nails is solid and protective. The nail technician eliminates any hint of bulk using a precise filling technique and achieves the ideal form of acrylic nails. After getting the required nail shape, they can decorate them with traditional or gel polish or top coat to make it even harder to chip.

Gel nail polish

When applying gel nail polish, the nail technician swiftly brushes the polish onto the natural nail or nail extensions and then cures it with a UV light. Some varieties of gel polish dry without the need for UV-light ((no-light gels). Therefore, you can choose between light-cured gels and no-light gels at nail salons. Compared to acrylic nails, gel nails save time by skipping the shaping step and drying in under a minute. The filing process for gel extensions is also simple and quick.

Gel nail polish is a popular choice for DIY manicures due to its effectiveness. However, the time required to apply the product may change according to the skill level of your nail technician. Depending on the complexity of the design and your skill as a nail technician, the process might take anything from a few minutes to an hour.

Before doing your nails, remember that creating acrylic nails involves using a mixture of polymer powder systems and monomer, which can generate strong fumes. Having adequate ventilation during the application process is critical to avoid breathing in chemicals. In addition, acrylic nails might be more difficult to master because of the complexity of sculpting and shaping them, requiring a certain level of competence even for at-home applications.

2. Cost: Budget-Friendly Beauty Battle

Acrylic Nails:

  • Acrylic nail applications are the most cost-effective. Depending on criteria such as nail length and additional services, the cost of acrylic nails can range from $30 to $100 or more.

The best option for gorgeous nails that won’t break the pocketbook. Ultra-strong and long-lasting manicures can cost anywhere from $50 to $100. The cost can add up if you want to use faux nail tips and other trendy nail art in applying gel nail polish to acrylic nails.

Gel Nails:

  • The liquid resin used in applying gel nails can make the service a little more expensive. The average cost of applying gel nail paint on natural nails is between $30 to $70, though this can vary based on your location and the salon you visit. As a result of the need for additional supplies like a UV light, a gel top coat, and a base coat, a gel nail kit can be quite pricey.

When performing an acrylic fill, your nail technician will pay special attention to the new growth at the nail’s base. Because of this, acrylic nails are a good long-term investment because you won’t need to replace them constantly.

Budget and frequent maintenance requirements may influence your decision, as gel paint on natural nails does not allow filling and requires a new coat every time.

4. Durability: Nail technology that Stands the Test of Time

Acrylic Nails:

  • Acrylic nails are so durable that they can withstand regular daily use without chipping or breaking. Regarding durability, acrylic nails are unrivaled, lasting for three weeks or more. Acrylic nails are appealing because you can fill them numerous times before replacing them. Acrylic nails are long-lasting, so won’t have to worry as much about them chipping, breaking, or lifting. Even the most durable acrylic nails can break, exposing the real nails beneath, so people with active lives that require a lot of handwork should be careful. Additional risks include infection of the nail bed and cuticle area from extended use.
  • To keep them in tip-top shape, you’ll need to get regular fills and do routine maintenance. Unlike gel nails, acrylic ones last longer and can fill in repeatedly. They work wonderfully as a base for manicure tips and other modifications, such as sculpted nails.

Gel Nails:

  • Gel nails are long-lasting, keeping their glossy finish for weeks. Gel nail polish is praised for its long wear time (around two weeks) and resistance to peeling. However, when the 14-day mark approaches, you may observe some peeling or lifting in the corners. Gel nail polish is a more long-lasting option than traditional nail polish, but it must still be applied to healthy nails. Your gel polish can last longer if your nails are healthy, to begin with. However, you should exercise caution because gel polish might chip or crack if your nails are overworked or otherwise fragile.
  • This is the perfect manicure for individuals who want their polish to last weeks on nail beds without chipping or peeling.

3. Removal: Bidding Farewell to Fashionable Tips

Acrylic Nails:

  • To dissolve the acrylic layers, a specialist must perform a removal process using acetone.
  • The proper removal process is crucial to preventing damage to natural nails.

Gel Nails:

  • Gel nails are easier to remove than natural nails since they may be filed down or soaked off the nail bed with acetone. Another possibility is to soak a cotton pad in acetone, wrap it around the nail to soften the gel polish, and remove it. Wrapping cotton pads with aluminum foil is another option for keeping them in place.
  • Easy on the nails and takes less time to remove. You can get rid of gel nails in about 5 minutes using a gel polish remover.

Both acrylics and gel nails have different removal processes. Gel nails are pretty easy to remove, so you can opt for gel nails to switch your manicure designs. For those who are nail addicts and love to change manicure designs quite often, gel manicures will work best.

4. Frequency of refills and touch-ups

Gel nails require touch-ups a little more often than acrylic nails. Acrylic nails can go three weeks or more without filling, whereas gel nails may need maintenance every two to three weeks. Both gel and artificial nails are beautiful and long-lasting, so it comes down to personal opinion and how often you change your polish.

Final Verdict: Gel vs acrylic nails. Which one is best for you?

It all comes down to your preference; gel provides long-lasting color, while acrylic provides strength. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Acrylic strengthens, but it can also harm your nails. Gel polish is chip-resistant, but if not removed properly, it might weaken them. Gel extensions, a combination of acrylic and gel polish, are an all-around better option. They’re tough, adaptable, and less harmful. Gel extensions contain no harsh chemicals or fumes and, when properly removed, encourage healthy nail development. So, pick wisely for great, long-lasting nails free of flaws!

Frequently Asked Questions: Gel vs acrylic nail

Gel vs acrylic nails: which one last the longer?

Both gel and acryic nails have maximum lifespan of 2 to 3 weeks

Acrylic nails are durable and may endure for 2-3 weeks without special treatment. If you don’t care for your acrylics, they can lift, chip, or peel sooner than the two to three-week mark. Acrylic nails can last for up to six weeks with regular maintenance

Making gel nails last longer requires UV or LED light to build a better hard shell. Then it typically survives 2 to 3 weeks to grow out. If your gel is peeling off from your nails, then try to use base coat before gel polish so it will help to stick more easily.

How much do acrylic nails usually cost

The treatment average costs around $20 to $30 each at a spa or salon. The amount you pay also depends on the type of facility you visit as well as the service or modification you choose.

Is acrylic bad for your nails

Artificial nails are not harmful to your natural nails. But sometimes, they occasionally cause an infection. So try to use the package’s instructions for safety measures. And protect your nail bed from the chemicals during the application process.

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