When it comes to getting your nails done, you may have heard of both gel and acrylic nails. But do you know the difference between them?
Gel and acrylic are two popular types of nail enhancements, but they each have their own unique properties that make them better suited for different purposes.
In this article, we will discuss the difference between gel and acrylic nails so that you can decide which one is right for your next manicure or pedicure.
Also, we will give you some tips for how to care for each type of nail.
What’s the Difference Between Gel and Acrylic Nails?
The main difference between gel and acrylic nails is the material used to create them. Gel nails are made from a type of polymer called “polyurethane” that reacts with a special light source to form a strong and durable bond. On the other hand, acrylic nails are made from a type of plastic material called “ethyl methacrylate” which is applied in liquid form and sets with the help of a special adhesive.
What are Acrylic Nails?
Acrylic nails are created by using a combination of liquid monomer and powder polymer.
The monomer is a type of reactive plastic that hardens when exposed to air, while the polymer helps it stick together.
When this mixture is applied to your natural nail bed, it can create a strong, durable enhancement that lasts several weeks.
Acrylic nails are more affordable than gel nails, but they also require regular maintenance in order to keep them looking their best.
Read also: What can you use instead of acrylic liquid?
The good about acrylic nails
Acrylic nails have a lot of advantages:
- They are extremely affordable and can easily be done at home or at a nail salon.
- They can last up to 3-4 weeks before needing to be replaced.
- You can get creative with your designs since the nails are quite flexible.
- You can easily remove them by yourself with a nail polish remover.
The bad about acrylic nails
- Acrylic nails can be quite damaging to your natural nails if not applied properly.
- They require regular maintenance, as the acrylic has to be filled in every two to three weeks. The acrylic fill-in price ranges from $20 to $50.
- The nails can also look quite unnatural if not applied correctly.
- They are prone to lifting and damage if not cared for properly.
How are acrylic nails done?
The first acrylic nails were done in 1954 by application in layers. The first layer is the base coat, which is a combination of the monomer and polymer.
This will adhere to your nail and form the foundation for the acrylic nails. The second layer is the colored powder, which will give you the desired shade or design that you want.
Finally, a top coat is applied to seal in the color and protect it from damage.
What are Gel Nails?
Gel nails are created with UV light-cured resin, which allows them to dry quickly and not chip or scratch as easily as acrylics.
Gel nails look very natural and last longer than acrylics since there is no need for frequent touch-ups.
However, they do require a UV lamp to cure the resin and can be more expensive than acrylics.
The good about gel nails
- Gel nails are incredibly durable and can last up to 6-7 weeks before needing to be redone or touched up.
- They don’t require as much maintenance as acrylics and can easily be removed with a non-acetone gel nail polish remover.
- Gel nails also look incredibly natural and won’t damage the natural nails.
The bad about gel nails
- Gel nails require the use of a UV lamp to cure them, which can be costly.
- It is also difficult to repair chipped or broken gel nails as they cannot be filled in like acrylics.
- Gel nails can be more expensive than acrylics and require regular maintenance.
How gel nails are done?
Gel nail extensions are applied in layers. The first layer is the gel base coat, which adheres to your nail bed. Then the desired shade or design is applied to create a colored layer.
Finally, a top coat of the same UV light-cured resin is added for protection and durability. Each layer must be cured under a UV lamp for several minutes before applying the next layer.
Once the nails are finished, they can last up to six or seven weeks without needing to be touched up.
How to Care for Gel and Acrylic Nails
No matter which type of nail enhancement you choose, it’s important to follow the proper care instructions in order to keep your nails looking their best.
For gel nails, it’s important that you keep them away from direct sunlight and use a special UV lamp and gel polish to cure the resin.
This will help prevent discoloration and fading of the color. For acrylic nails, it’s important to keep your nails clean and dry in order to prevent bacteria buildup which can cause infection.
Additionally, both types of nail enhancements should be filed and buffed regularly in order to maintain their shape and appearance.
Acrylic vs Gel Nails Comparison
The following is a comparison of the different types of nails to help you make an informed decision about which one is right for you.
The application process is slightly different for each type of nail enhancement. Acrylic nails are applied in liquid form and require a special adhesive to set.
To apply gel nails, you must use a special UV lamp to cure the resin. Gel nails, on the other hand, require a UV lamp to cure the resin.
Also, acrylic nails can be applied faster than gel nails. So, in terms of application, consider how long a nail appointment takes when deciding which type of nail enhancement is best for you.
Read More: How To Apply Acrylic Nails
When it comes to durability, gel nails last significantly longer than acrylics.
Since UV-cured resin is much stronger than the plastic used in acrylic nails, they can withstand wear and tear better over time.
However, both types of nail enhancements need regular maintenance in order to keep them looking their best.
Acrylic nails are more likely to chip and scratch than gel nails, so it’s important to be aware of this when deciding which type is best for you.
Read more: How long do acrylic nails last?
In terms of cost, it’s important to note that gel nails are typically more expensive than acrylics because of the special UV lamp needed to cure the resin.
However, this cost can be offset by the fact that gel nails last longer and require less maintenance over time.
So, if you’re looking for long-lasting nail enhancement, then it may be worth investing in gel nails. Don’t forget to factor in your nail technician expertise and the cost of nail art when considering which type to get.
When it comes to appearance, both types of nail enhancements can achieve a natural-looking finish.
However, it’s important to note that acrylic nails tend to be more brittle and prone to chipping than gel nails.
So, if you’re looking for a long-lasting manicure with a natural look, then gel manicure may be the best option for you.
4. Drying time or curing time
In terms of drying time or curing time, acrylic nails can be dried almost instantly through the use of a special adhesive.
Gel nails, on the other hand, require a special UV lamp to cure the resin and can take up to five minutes to dry completely.
So, if you need your manicure done quickly then acrylics may be the better option for you.
Remember, if you are using regular nail polish with a gel manicure, you will need to cure it under the UV lamp for several minutes before the next layer is applied.
In terms of smell, acrylic nails typically have a strong chemical odor due to the adhesive used during application.
Gel nails, on the other hand, generally have a milder odor since they do not require any special adhesive.
So, if you’re looking for a more pleasant-smelling manicure, then gel nails may be the way to go.
When it comes to flexibility, gel nails are much more flexible than acrylics. This is because the resin used in gel nails is more pliable and less prone to cracking or chipping.
So, if you’re looking for a nail extension that can withstand everyday wear and tear better then gel nails may be the best option for you.
When it comes to removal, both types of nail enhancements can be easily removed at home.
However, soak acrylic nails in acetone or a special remover in order to break down the adhesive while gel nails require a UV lamp and a special remover solution to dissolve the resin. You can also take acrylic nails off with hot water.
So, if you’re looking for an easier removal process, then acrylics may be the better option for you.
8. Effects on nails and risks
The effects on the nails and associated risks depend on the type of nail enhancement used.
Acrylic nails can cause damage to the natural nail bed due to the adhesive used during application.
Gel nails, on the other hand, do not require any special adhesive and are generally considered to be less damaging to the natural nail.
Gel nails tend to take longer to apply since each layer needs to be cured under a UV lamp.
However, both types of nail enhancements can cause irritation and allergic reactions so it’s important to be aware of this when deciding which is best for you.
Interesting read: Why do nails grow faster with acrylic nails?
Gel vs Acrylic Nails Summary!
When it comes to choosing the best nail enhancement for you, there are many factors to consider.
Durability, cost, appearance, drying time or curing time, smell, flexibility, and removal are all important considerations when deciding which type of nail enhancement is right for you.
Acrylic nails tend to be more brittle and require a special adhesive, while gel nails offer more flexibility and require a UV lamp to cure the resin.
Both types of nail enhancements can cause irritation or allergic reactions, so it’s important to be aware of this when deciding which is best for you.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and what works best for your lifestyle.
Whichever type of nail enhancement you choose, it’s important to take proper care of your nails and make sure they are well-maintained.
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