What’s the Difference Between Acrylic And Gel Nails: All You Need to Know Which one To Choose

When we talk about Gel Nails and Acrylic Nails, the first thing that comes to mind are falsies. Yes, we can compare acrylic paint and gel paint polish anytime, but what we are discussing now is the artificial nails that we get whenever we ladies, hit the salon for our much-deserved manicure.

For girls who are fond of DIY manicures and pedicures who visits the salon for the first time, it might be confusing to choose between what type of falsies would you want for your nails.


This article will tackle the comparison between the most common type of false nails-gel or acrylic.

What’s the Difference Between Acrylic And Gel Nails

what is the difference between acrylic and gel nails

The modern and fast-paced world that we all live in, has also affected how we-women, take care of ourselves.

We see to it that our beauty regimen is not only faster but also smarter. It is faster now through the use of various beauty tools; and smarter because we are now conscious about the ingredients or materials used in each product that we own.

We are now staying away from products that may potentially harm: us, the animals, or our environment. That is true in every beauty product that we purchase-including our nail kit and nail options. What has been previously accepted as “okay”, is not necessarily applicable up to date. This is because the competition is getting tough and manufacturers keep on innovating for the “better” if not the “best” beauty or nail solution for everyone.

When it comes to nails, that top competition is still the battle between Acrylic and Gel Nails. Acrylic has been considered the classic one and Gel Nails is the newer ones. However, innovation took Acrylic to the next level through the rise of Solar Nails.

 This industry is fast-evolving and it’s hard to pinpoint which of the two is actually leading since the tables are turning every single time. What we can do as of the moment is enjoy the roller coaster ride and make comparisons between the two.

Let’s get to know each of the variant first so that we can conclude their difference at the later part of this article.

The Good Ole’ Acrylics

what are Acrylics nails

Think of Acrylics as the first crush or first love. He is the only one you have been eyeing on for a long time. In short, it’s the first artificial nail of its kind (Well, aside from the tacky plastic falsies you bought in a novelty store when you were young).

In fact, if you are not very familiar with artificial nails, you might be thinking that it is the “only form” of fake nails because it is the only form that has been offered by the salon a few years ago. It is so fun to watch how they kind of mix the powder and the liquid together to mold it into nails and shape it like clay.

Feel free to watch this video about a beginner’s guide to applying acrylic nails.

Pros of Getting Acrylic Nails

Why do we, women, had to use acrylics, to begin with? We already have our own nails to trim and shape, right? Here are some of the reasons:

  • It is not brittle and does not easily break. For women like me, who has brittle nails, it is really hard to keep our nails beautiful and long. It chips and breaks every now and then. It was so frustrating when I was younger (before I learned about false nails). I had to keep my nails short while envying other ladies with nice long nails. I was very happy when I first tried it and I fell in love in an instant!
  • It’s good for women who habitually bites their nails. I swear this is not me, at all! How could I even? No, what? Wouldn’t you believe me? Alright, I give up. So these nails are thick and tough. So even if you bite it from time to time (which I don’t really do), it’s okay. Your nails will stay strong and pretty--just like any modern woman should!
  • It’s easy to fix. With the right tools, you can fix your acrylic nails at home easily, following these steps. If you can’t pull it off together, don’t worry! Acrylic nails have been around too long that all of the salons know how to fix it for you.
  • It’s cheaper. Hurray! More money for shopping. Who’s with me on this one?

Cons of Acrylic Nails

If there are pros, definitely, there will be cons. Law of nature, my dear.

  • Long-term use may potentially damage your nails. Well, to be honest, acrylic nails itself are not likely to harm your nails. There is just a risk for infection if you don’t take care of your nails. Here’s how you could prevent infection.
  • It feels hard and unnatural. You don't have to be a beauty or nail expert to tell if a nail looks “off”. Well, some nail technicians are really good and they can try to make your acrylic nails less artificial, but that’s like finding your soulmate or something.
  • Acrylics use strong chemicals. These chemicals include ethyl methacrylate monomer and methyl methacrylate monomer. Better make sure you are not allergic to this stuff. Here’s how you could check if you are allergic to acrylic nails.
  • Refilling is a must. This adds to your trip to the salon.

The New Kid in Town- Gel Nails

After some time in the industry of false nails and nails extensions, gel nails came out of the market, and gave Acrylic a tough competition. I myself went ahead and welcomed gel nails with open arms.

Pros of The Gel Nails

How could gel nails give the good old acrylic nails a very tough competition? The reasons are the following:

  • It looks more natural and glossy. They resemble real nails, so that’s a heck of a deal! It looks just like your regular nail, only tougher and shinier!
  • Curing time is faster! With acrylics, it will take more than 5 minutes for your mold to dry in open air. With gel nails, depending on the type of light that you use, (LED or UV) and the brand used, curing time is typically below 4 minutes.
  • It doesn’t smell strong. Yes, with acrylics, you can totally smell strong fumes and chemicals that may cause some worry. With gel nails? It doesn’t smell really strong at all. More eco-friendly option!

Cons of Gel Nails

what are gel nails

New isn’t always better in all aspects. Check out the cons of the gel nails and see if it is tolerable enough for its advantages.

  • It costs more. Maybe because it is more eco-friendly or that it requires UV lighting, but gel nails cause a bit more than acrylics. Well, the quality and appearance comes with a price, don’t you think?
  • It’s hard to do and fix it at home. You can always try to do it at home once you purchase your own UV light, but fixing it once it breaks, might really need the help of a nail technician.
  • It doesn’t last as long as Acrylics. Of course. It looks like your real nails, so don’t expect it to last the same way as the thick and hard Acrylic. Proper caring and handling for your nails are important.


what is the difference between acrylic and gel nails

Choosing between the two is very relative depending on the user. It is up to you to weigh the consequences to choosing which will be a better option.

As for me, I regularly do my nails using Solar Nails (a form of acrylic) if it is available in the salon. Gel nails would be the second best bet. If I go out of town, away from my favorite salon for business trips or summer vaction to the beach, I usually have my nails done with acrylic. It is tougher and I can easily fix it myself.

So, what would you rather choose?

Ella Jones

Hi . My name is Ella Jones . I’m a blogger, shopaholic, and beauty-obsessed blogger from NYC, armed with a Professional MBA from Fordham and a License in Cosmetology from Empire Beauty School in my hometown of Brooklyn. I’m the proud owner of a successful salon and beauty parlor in the city, and I’ve started this blog to share my beauty secrets with you.

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