Acrylic Nails vs. Gel Nails

Acrylic Nails
Gel Nails

Acrylic and Gel Nails are artificial nail enhancements done in place of natural nails. Gel Nails tend to provide a more glossy and natural look whereas Acrylic are more sturdy and durable as compared to gel.

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Acrylic Nails

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Gel Nails

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What are they? Artificial Nail enhancements Artificial Nail enhancements
Appearance May look less natural than gel nails, especially if applied incorrectly. Natural, glossy Freshly-manicured for up to 14 days
Cost Generally cheaper than gel nail application. $25 to $60 Salons typically start with manicure price and add an upcharge up to 50%
Durability Lasts longer than gel nails. Up to 14 days
Corrosive effect If properly applied with the correct quantity, primers(with or without methacrylic acid) do not etch or damage the nail bed. However, skin contact needs to be avoided to reduce the risk of allergic reaction. Gel nails can be applied with or without a base or primer.(CND GEL uses a non-acid primer to bond the gel to the nail). If primer is applied correctly, it does not damage the nail bed.
Curing techniques Slower curing time. Acrylic liquid and powder are applied to the nail and the acrylic nails. Faster curing time. Most gel nails are cured under uv-light; some cure with a gel activator and do not require uv-light (no-light gels).
After effects Overuse and incorrect application of primer can cause damage to the nail bed and leave an impression on the nails. Prolonged exposure to water may result in fungal infection. In general, Gel nails applied without a primer leave no hard impressions.Overuse and incorrect application of primer can cause damage to the nail bed and leave an impression on the nails. Prolonged exposure to water may result in fungal infection.
Range There is not much variety that you can go with the acrylic nails as far as the material texture is concerned. Gelish – 141 colors; OPI – 71 colors; Essie -- 36 colors
Flexibility Acrylic nails are hard and very robust, when applied correctly. Most of them are more flexible than the acrylic nails, but not as flexible as natural nails.

Contents: Acrylic Nails vs Gel Nails

Nail Art inspired by 'The Very Hungry Catterpillar'
Nail Art inspired by 'The Very Hungry Catterpillar'

edit Appearance & Durability

One of the primary factors for choosing gel nails over acrylic is the appearance.Gel nails tend to have a more natural and glossy appearance as compared to Acrylic. On the other hand, Acrylic nails are very sturdy. If applied correctly and with proper care, may last much longer than gel nails.

Nail Art inspired by the UK flag
Nail Art inspired by the UK flag

edit Differences in Application

Acrylic nails are attached to the nails and their manicure technique involves the application of primer or glue like substance initially on the nails. Then an artificial acrylic nail is put on top of the existing nail. The curing time is generally slower for as compared to gel nails.If properly applied with the correct quantity, primers(with or without methacrylic acid) do not etch or damage the nail bed. However, skin contact needs to be avoided to reduce the risk of allergic reaction.

Most gel nails are cured under uv-light; some cure with a gel activator and do not require uv-light (no-light gels).Gel nails can be applied with or without a base or primer.(CND GEL uses a non-acid primer to bond the gel to the nail). If primer is applied correctly, it does not damage the nail bed.


edit Removal Process

Both Acrylic and Gel nails frequently requires professional help for better results. Nails can also be soaked rather than filed off, which is a fairly popular technique these days.

Acrylic Nail extensions
Acrylic Nail extensions

edit Cost

Acrylic Nails are generally cheaper than gel nail application.

edit Comfort

Most people do not like acrylic nails because of the uneasiness that follows to the cuticle. Gel nails, on the other hand are just like a gel and take their shape themselves and hence are very easy on the hands.

edit Flexibility

Acrylic Nails are hard and also look thicker than Gel nails. Any stress applied to acrylic nails can hurt the original nail. Gel nails are flexible and not hard on the touch.

edit After Effect

Overuse and incorrect application of primer in acrylic nails can cause damage to the nail bed and leave an impression on the nails. Prolonged exposure to water may result in fungal infection.

In general, Gel nails applied without a primer leave no hard impressions.Overuse and incorrect application of primer can cause damage to the nail bed and leave an impression on the nails. Prolonged exposure to water may result in fungal infection.

edit Videos explaining the difference

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Comments: Acrylic Nails vs Gel Nails

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Anonymous comments (8)

February 24, 2014, 11:18am

Removal Process for gel. You need to put the note that is for soak off gel. Other artificial nail cannot be soak off. But to be filed down or or left to grow.

— 24.✗.✗.134
3

August 22, 2013, 3:48pm

thanks forthe infooo

— 96.✗.✗.109
0

July 11, 2012, 11:37pm

Article has been updated. Note that this is a wiki and users can update the comparison for correctness.

— 67.✗.✗.142
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February 25, 2011, 4:36am

I have to agree with the comments posted previously. Whoever wrote this article is completely uneducated.

— 68.✗.✗.165
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July 18, 2010, 2:33am

Simply put whoever wrote this article does not know what they are talk about. I am a nail tech who performs both acrylic and gel services. ALL nail extension enhancements are "acrylic". Gels are part of a subcategory called cynoacrylates. Second all enhancements use primer (and almost all primer is acid free). Third gels are not really any more expensive in product then acrylics (providing you buy good products all the way around) nor do I charge any more for gels or acrylics. A full set is a full set, that is usually only different in a "chop shop". Fourth it is implied that acrylics use tips and gels don't. Gels are acrylics can both be applied with tips or they can both be sculpted. Finally NO NAIL ENHANCEMENT is "easier" on the natural nail then any other. The amount of effect on your natural nail is NOT, I repeat NOT from the product but from how the nail tech applies or removes the product.

— 68.✗.✗.204
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May 21, 2009, 2:05pm

I don't know who wrote this article, but the facts are incorrect. May I suggest purchasing a copy of Nail Structure and Product Chemistry Second Edition by Douglas Schoon? It debunks all of the misinformation written here - based on scientific fact. Its misinformation like this that scares the public out of using quality products. Acrylics and primers will not damage the nail plate if used correctly by a properly trained professional - same goes for gels. They are both made from the acrylic family and are both quality products when used properly.

— 142.✗.✗.29
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September 24, 2013, 6:53am

Normally, owner should take responsibility and have your concern resolved and his/her employeemistake corrected. However, because some time has passed and you did not complain on spot to the owner, it may be difficult to get any resolution; no offense to Asians but from my personal experience to get any winning results.
as to how should a perfect gel-nail look like? exactly like your nail. because gel is thin material and it is applied onto your nail (if you had not sculptured or tip overlay) then gel should look flawless surface like your nail bed. the end over the free edge should be capped not to allow chipping or lifting and should be thin. If the free edge area you feel is a thick blub and when you look at your finger from up down, and you see a high slope, then free edge is thick. with use of water, it will lift.
for more information, contact InStyle Nails 8186246526

— 24.✗.✗.122
-1

May 17, 2013, 11:20pm

Great info...thanks!

— 76.✗.✗.56
-1

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