So, what are the difference between acrylic nails vs gels? The two treatments differ in lots of ways, although they still provide a lot of the same things we look for when getting our nails done; they improve the look of our natural nails, they’re pretty and they’re totally customisable!
So, what are the differences? I’ve written the following article and split it into the areas where they differ the most! Just in case anyone is wondering which treatment to choose, or might be thinking of switching from one to the other…
A big difference between acrylic nails vs gels is the process, obviously. So what is the process for each and what are the main differences?
Prep – this is carried out for both treatments and should be carried out in the same way. The prep stage includes shaping the nail – either short for acrylics or whatever is desired for gels – removing all dead skin, shine and oil from the nail plate, tidying up the cuticles and dehydrating the nail.
Application – for gel treatments the application is very similar to painting your nails, just with the added step of curing each coat under an LED or UV lamp. For acrylic nails, the application can be done in a few different ways, including being sculpted on top of a form and being built on top of a nail tip. The acrylic powder (polymer) is mixed with acrylic liquid (monomer) to form a paste-like substance which is manipulated into the desired shape and left to harden. This is then filed and smoothed for whatever finish is desired.
Removal – this is, again, the same process for both. The most common, safest and least damaging method is to remove with acetone. This is done for both treatments by removing excess length, breaking the seal on the top of the nail so the acetone can work into it and leaving to soak for around 20 minutes for gel and up to 1 hour for acrylic.
This is the key thing we’re all looking for really, how long will this last? What bang will I get for my buck? Which lasts longer acrylic nails vs gels?
As mentioned in my previous blog, the durability of your nail treatment can depend on many factors. However, there are differences between how long an acrylic set lasts versus a gel set.
So, in terms of acrylic nails vs gels, acrylic sets should last longer than gel, in theory. This is purely because the substance is stronger, therefore chips or breaks are less likely. But, providing they are both professionally applied with a thorough prep process, both should have good adhesion and should last at least 2 weeks.
This is an area where there is a definitive difference in acrylic nails vs gels.
Acrylic nails are more expensive than gel nails for some very simple and straightforward reasons;
Another area where there is a big difference is the time it takes to complete the treatment.
Basically, an acrylic treatment will take longer than a gel treatment. This is because there is a more in-depth process to be carried out, which includes different stages and may need to be build upon. The tips or forms are applied first, the acrylic is applied which can take time to achieve the coverage, shape and length desired. This then needs to be left the dry and harden. The filing must then be carried out which can also take some time if a specific shape is required, it is also quite a delicate process as he technician will want to be careful not to file the hand or cuticle, but also wants to be achieve a very nice, sharp shape.
For gels, once the prep is carried out the process is very similar to painting nails with normal nail polish. The only difference is they must be cured in between each coat, using an LED or UV lamp. This actually speeds up the process compared to nail polish, as the coat is dry and can be worked on again straight away. No annoying waiting and waving your hands and blowing on them needed here!
Acrylic can take anywhere from 1-2.5 hours depending upon length, style and design. Gels should take no more than 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.
This is an interesting area, as there are differences in style which are better suited to each treatment.
So with acrylic nails, the length is the main benefit. If you like long nails, you’re better to opt for an acrylic extension. Gel nails can only work with whatever natural nail you already have, so are better suited to people who like the length and shape of their own nails and just want a pop of colour or a snazzy design!
There is a whole world of coloured acrylic out there, however it is not offered by all nail technicians and it is also not as easy to work with as gel colours are, in terms of creating designs. It takes years of practice to master the coloured acrylic nail design. Therefore, in terms of creating a colourful design or just for having a wide range of colours available, the gel is the better option.