Difference Between Gel Nails and Acrylic Nails

How often do you re-apply your nail polish or reach out to buff and file your nails every time they chip off? We get it – it’s hard to maintain your natural nails. That’s why you may want to try nail extensions that are sturdier and easier to maintain.

 So what is a nail extension? These are nails that last longer and look better. The most popular types include gel extensions and acrylic nails. You can choose between the two choices in addition to availing the benefits of a manicure and pedicure at one of our salons near you. Wondering what is the difference between acrylic and gel nails? Here’s a guide on gel extensions vs acrylic nails that should make your choice easier.

What are Acrylic Nails?

Wondering what acrylic nails are? One of the key differences between acrylic and gel nails is that you can try acrylic nails to give your nails a fairly realistic appeal. Acrylic nails consist of a polish and powder or liquid monomer combination that is spread over the natural nail as an extension to give it an appropriate shape and length. The professional will perform the below-mentioned steps:

  1. Cut and file your natural nails.
  2. Buff the nails to make the base rough so that the acrylic can be applied properly.
  3. Apply the powder or liquid hybrid mixture to create an acrylic dough. The professional then shapes it across your nail bed to give it the perfect shape and length.
  4. Put a base coat and nail polish colour as per your choice.
  5. Apply the top coat that seals the polish.
  6. Air-dry your nails to perfection.

Every step of the process involves air drying the polish, coat after coat. This ensures that the nail doesn’t chip off and the polish remains durable till the acrylic nails are taken off after weeks.

Acrylic Nail Pros:

  • Acrylic nails exhibit greater durability, being less susceptible to breakage in contrast to natural nails
  • They offer versatility by allowing shaping and styling according to personal preferences
  • Acrylic nails present a polished, manicured appearance
  • By safeguarding natural nails, they facilitate growth underneath
  • Acrylic nails are widely accessible, offering a range of colours and designs

Acrylic Nail Cons:

  • Improper application or removal of acrylic nails may cause harm to the natural nail beds
  • Regular maintenance, such as fills or touch-ups, is necessary to upkeep acrylic nails
  • Certain individuals might experience allergic reactions to the chemicals used in acrylic nails
  • Poor maintenance practices can increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections
  • The cost of acrylic nails can be high due to both initial application expenses and ongoing upkeep

What are Gel Extensions?

When deciding between acrylic vs gel nails, gel extensions do not use a mixture to create extensions for your natural nails. They are then applied to your natural nails with the help of a gel glue and shaped properly. Gel extensions utilise three coats – a base coat, gel nail polish and a top coat that can be applied on the nail tips. Each coat is dried off under a UV light for around a minute or two. This is done to ensure every coat becomes sturdy and durable, without the risk of smudging, unlike regular polishes. The professional will perform the below-mentioned steps:

  • Cut and file your natural nails.
  • Buff the nails and wipe them clean.
  • Use a gel glue on each nail to apply nail extensions based on the size and shape.
  • Shape and file the extensions to give them a groomed appearance.
  • Apply a base coat on the nail tips and dry it off under the UV light.
  • Choose a gel nail polish colour of your choice and dry that layer under the UV light.
  • Apply the top coat that seals the polish. This is dried off for one last time under the UV light to reveal a beautiful look.

The final look will consist of polished, glossy or matte nails (based on your preference) that will make you stare at your hands all day long! You can also get nails without the extensions as this process can also be administered on natural nails.

Gel Extension Pros:

  • Gel nails typically last longer than regular polish, often up to two to three weeks without chipping.
  • They provide a glossy and polished look that remains shiny for an extended period.
  • Gel nails cure quickly under UV or LED light, reducing the risk of smudging compared to regular polish.
  • They can add strength and durability to your natural nails, helping them resist breakage.
  • There’s a wide range of colours and designs available with gel nails, including nail art and embellishments.
  • They require minimal upkeep once applied, and you can easily maintain the look for several weeks.

Gel Extension Cons:

  • Incorrect removal or improper application can weaken or damage your natural nails.
  • Gel nail services can be more expensive than regular manicures, especially if you opt for intricate designs or frequent touch-ups.
  • The curing process involves UV or LED light, which might raise concerns about potential skin damage from prolonged exposure.
  • As your natural nails grow, there’s a noticeable gap between the gel and cuticle, requiring touch-ups or infills.
  • Removing gel nails can take time and involves soaking or filing, which can weaken the nails if not done correctly.

Difference between Acrylic Nails and Gel Nails

Wondering what is the difference between acrylic and gel nails? If you’re looking to book your next nail salon appointment, you can consult the technician about the differences before you begin.

Ideally, you need to consider the following factors before choosing gel extensions and acrylic nails.

Differences Acrylic Nails Gel Nails
Longevity Acrylic nails can last you around a week or so. Gel nails or gel extensions last for at least 14-15 days.
Durability Since acrylic nails last for a shorter duration of time, they are not durable. Gel nails are more durable than acrylic nails, making them suitable for daily chores or sporty activities.
Appearance Acrylic nails are sturdier in appearance. Gel nails provide a glossy finish to the extensions.
Process Acrylic nails can be dried off by air. Gel nails have to be dried off under UV light.
Removal Acrylic nails can be removed with acetone. You can dip your hands in the solution for 20 minutes to peel off the extensions. Gel nails cannot be removed via acetone. You need to have the gel filed off from the nail.
Risks of Infection If not correctly applied, acrylic nails can create infections or damage to the nail bed. Gel nails are relatively safer than acrylic nails and do not pose any risks for infection.
Cost Starts at Rs. 2500 Starts at Rs. 1000
Maintenance Regularly apply cuticle oil, avoid harsh chemicals, wear gloves during chores, and get professional removal to preserve nail health and the gel finish. Acrylic nails require regular maintenance involving filling to prevent lifting, avoiding harsh chemicals to preserve the acrylic, moisturising cuticles, and professional removal.

Now that you’re aware of the difference between acrylic and gel nails, you can also check out some nail trends that are going to be huge in 2024.

Our Nail Pick

If you ask what we prefer between acrylic vs gel nails, we can provide you with many options to choose from at our nail salon. We cater to both acrylic and gel extensions and have some other interesting nail extensions and art formats available at our Mumbai and Bangalore salons.

Get your question answered about which is better acrylic or gel nails by visiting our salon directly or booking your appointment online.  

Also, if you want to gain comprehensive knowledge about the application techniques for both acrylic and gel nail paints enrol in Bodycraft Academy’s esteemed Bodycraft Academy Nail Art Course.

FAQs Related to Gel Nails vs Acrylic Nails

1. What is the cost of getting acrylic nails?

The price of getting acrylic nails starts from Rs. 2500.

2. What is the cost of getting gel extensions?

The price of getting gel extensions starts from Rs. 2800.

3. How can I get my nail extensions removed?

If you have acrylic nails, visit our salon after a week to get your extensions safely removed. If you have gel extensions, we recommend coming after 15 days. In case you want to remove your artificial nails at home, we recommend cutting off the extensions to make them as short as possible. Proceed by dipping your nails in acetone-free nail polish remover for at least 20 minutes. This process will soften the artificial nails making them easy to remove.

4. How do I remove haldi stains from my nail extensions?

You can buff your nails at home to remove the stain. In case that doesn’t work for you, proceed by dipping your nails in lemon juice for about 10 minutes. This will lift off the yellow, turmeric colour without damaging your extensions.

5. Which nail extensions are more flexible in nature?

Since gel extensions last longer than acrylic nails, they can be flexibly used in your daily routine. That being said, it is also important to ensure that there is no outward impact on the extensions as it can lead to breakage of the nails or pain on your nail bed.

6. Do you get a manicure with gel nails?

While getting gel nails, your nails will be cut and filed. However, unlike a regular manicure, it won’t follow the process of massaging and moisturising your hands, in addition to applying a gel lacquer. Gel nails utilise a gel polish that is UV-dried rather than air-dried.

7. Can I do a manicure after getting nail extensions?

Since nail extensions are applied on the nail bed, we advise getting a manicure only after the removal of the nails. 

8. Can you remove acrylic nails at home?

Yes, you can remove acrylic nails at home, although it’s generally recommended to have a professional do it to prevent damage to your natural nails. 

9. Do acrylic nails fall off in water?

Acrylic nails typically do not fall off in water unless they were not properly applied or if they’ve been on for a long time and are starting to lift. Water exposure can weaken the bond between the acrylic and natural nails, potentially causing them to loosen over time.

10. Which Nail Extension is permanent?

There isn’t a truly permanent nail extension. While some types like hard gel or acrylic nails can last for several weeks, they will still require maintenance and infills every few weeks due to natural nail growth.

11. Which nail extension is best for a wedding?

For a wedding, many prefer gel extensions or acrylics as they provide durability and can withstand the wear and tear of wedding preparations and events. Gel extensions offer a more natural look while acrylics are known for their strength.

12. Which nail extensions look natural?

Generally, gel extensions tend to look more natural because they are thinner and more flexible than acrylics. They can be sculpted to match the shape of the natural nail bed, giving a more realistic appearance. Additionally, newer techniques like dip powder can also provide a natural-looking finish.