If you’ve ever wanted a manicure that lasts longer than regular nail polish, you’ve probably encountered the gel nails vs. acrylic nails debate. While both of these options are great ways to experiment with different nail trends, finding the right manicure service isn’t always simple. We’ve outlined the key distinctions between gel nails vs acrylics below so you know exactly what to ask at your next manicure appointment.
What are gel nails?
Contrary to popular belief, these are made of plastic rather than gel and have pre-determined shapes. They are glued to the nail with a UV-cured gel product. Furthermore, gel tips are typically clear, full-coverage nails that come in a wide range of sizes, lengths, shapes, and thicknesses. As a result, they are quick to apply. Gel tips are also designed to be removed and replaced, and experts advise people who have them to have them professionally removed so that the natural nail is not damaged.
What are acrylic nails?
Acrylics are composed of a poly powder and a monomer liquid that combine to form a matte jelly substance that covers your natural nail to protect and lengthen it. UV lamps are not required for these.
Acrylic can be applied over an existing nail, a plastic tip can be added for different lengths, and the nails can be sculpted to any length/shape. Acrylics, unlike gel tips, are not meant to be removed with every nail service; instead, the client should schedule regular appointments to fill/rebalance the acrylic application.
What’s the difference between gel nails vs. acrylics?
According to nail artists, the difference between gel nails vs. acrylics is due to the polymerization process, ease of removal, and density of the nail.
Acrylics are more durable than gel. It is typically accomplished by combining a powder (polymer) and a liquid (monomer) to form a dough-like consistency that can then be filed and moulded into shapes.
It may sound complicated, but if you’ve ever used dip powder at a nail salon, you’re probably more familiar with all of the above than you realise, because dip powder is also a type of acrylic. However, dip powder is more damaging to the nail, especially because it is more difficult to remove. It’s also stiffer and less malleable.
Gel is softer and more flexible than acrylic, and gel extensions are less damaging. Some gels can be removed by soaking; however, the chemical difference between gel and acrylic is that gel is already mixed and must be cured with an LED or UV lamp, whereas acrylic must be mixed as you go.
Because gel extensions are more flexible and natural-looking (and lack the strong odour associated with acrylic nail application), they are also more expensive.
What are the potential side effects of getting gel nails?
There are no side effects to getting gel — the only time damage is possible is when it is removed incorrectly, which is why experts advise people to see a professional for proper removal. The only difference is that the removal time will vary depending on whether you have soft or hard gel.
What are the potential side effects of getting acrylic nails?
As with gel nails, potential side effects become apparent during removal. Furthermore, unless you get an inexperienced nail tech who doesn’t care about the dexterity of the nail, which can lead to infection if the nails are not filled in correctly, the side effects are minimal.
How are gel nails applied?
A pre-set form is typically applied under the nail at a salon, and once adhered, either soft or hard gel is applied on top and cured. Following that, the manicure procedure is similar to that of a regular nail appointment: shaping, lacquer, and possibly nail art.
How are acrylic nails applied?
There are two popular techniques in a salon. A plastic tip is glued to your nail and filed down to look like a natural extension of your nail, or a form (similar to those used for gel tips) is used as a base for acrylic before being removed.
Which is less damaging to natural nails?
After assessing your lifestyle and any existing nail damage, a technician will know what is best for your nail.
According to experts, if a client has hard and brittle nails, they need a product to help their nails be flexible enough to avoid nail breakage, particularly at the extension edge of the nails. If a client’s nails are soft and splitting, they require strength, and an acrylic product. The same rule applies if a client wants an overlay on their natural nail without an extension.
What is the best way to determine which is best for you?
It all comes down to lifestyle and maintenance in the end. Full-cover tips are easy to apply at first. You can change the shape and length of each appointment, requiring some extra time for removal. Acrylic does not necessitate removal at each appointment, does not necessitate the use of a UV light for application, and allows you to wear extreme lengths with more support.
Whatever type of nail enhancement you choose, both acrylics and gel extensions should produce the same results if done correctly by an experienced technician: long, healthy, and beautiful nails.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Whatever type of nail enhancement you choose, both acrylics and gel extensions should produce the same results if done correctly by an experienced technician: long, healthy, and beautiful nails.
Answer: Because gel extensions are more flexible and natural-looking (and lack the strong odour associated with acrylic nail application), they are also more expensive.