What’s the Difference Between Gel Nails and Acrylic Nails?
If you’ve ever sought a manicure that lasts longer than regular nail polish, you’ve likely been faced with the gel nails vs. acrylic nails debate. While both of these options are a great way to try out various nail trends, locking down the right style and technique for you is easier said than done.
What Are Gel Nails?
Gel nails are made through a three-step process, which consists of brushing a base coat, nail polish, and top coat over your natural nails.
With each coat, the nail is placed under a UV light for somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes to cure (dry). Once cured, the layer of gel polish hardens and won’t smudge like traditional nail polish. The final result is nails that sport a glossy finish and freshly manicured look. You can use gel polish on your natural nails or on nail extensions, also called tips.
What Are Acrylic Nails?
Acrylic nails are made of a combination of liquid and powder that’s laid over your nail with a brush. Once the mixture is applied, your nails are filed and shaped to emulate the look of natural nails.
After your acrylic nails are shaped, each nail is typically painted with a regular base coat, nail polish color, and finished with a top coat. Nails are then set under a fan to dry. Acrylic can also be applied to tips or to your natural nails, though they can weaken your nails with prolonged use.
What’s The Difference Between Gel And Acrylic Nails?
Although gel and acrylic nails can provide similar results, there are key differences with each nail style. As we mentioned, gel nails typically consist of brushing coats of polish on your natural nails and are cured with a UV lamp. The process is much faster than applying acrylic, especially because drying is instant, and the nails often look more natural. These days you can find online kits that let you get gel nails right at home. Once complete, gel nails will usually last for around 14 days without chipping. Toward the end of this period, they may start to peel or lift at the corners.
On the flip side, acrylic nails provide a hard, protective layer due to the powder and liquid hybrid mixture they're created with. Since acrylic nails are durable, you typically don’t have to worry about your nails cracking, breaking, or lifting while you have the acrylics (you may even notice that your natural nails grow longer and faster with acrylics).
Typically, acrylic nails are removed in the salon by a nail technician, whereas gel nails can be removed at home with ease.