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December 26, 2017

What’s the Difference Between Acrylic and Gel Nails?

brunette model with red stiletto nails placing index finger over open red lips

Artificial nails are super in right now! Everyone is wanting to extend their nails and give them that extra pop to complete their look. Celebrities and Instagram stars are leading the trend and there’s no indication that it’s going to taper off.

If you’ve been thinking about getting artificial nails, you may have asked, “What’s the difference between acrylic and gel nails?”

Some of the main differences between acrylic and gel nails are:

  • How they are applied
  • How long they last
  • The way they affect your natural nails
  • The time they take to cure
  • Texture and pliability when cured

gel nails under a uv light for curing

How Are They Applied?

While the technique for applying both gel and acrylic nails is very similar, there are some differences. One difference is in the material that is used. The gel material is much more gooey, like hot glue. To apply the gel material to the nail, you’ll use specific tools and application techniques to avoid getting the gel on the skin. With the acrylic material, it’s more doughy. The texture is more like a putty. Applying acrylic nails is more like sculpting or molding where applying the gel is more like painting.

Another difference in the way the two types of nails are applied is the way they are cured. Gel nails are especially interesting. To cure and harden the gel material, you will place it under a UV light. The UV rays cause a chemical reaction that hardens the gel.

How Long Do They Last?

Acrylic nails are known for lasting much longer than gel nails. Even after gel nails cure and harden, they tend to deteriorate much quicker because of their texture. If you are looking for nails that will look stunning and stand the test of time, acrylics are your go to!

How Do They Affect Your Natural Nails?

While gel and acrylic nails are commonly used and generally safe, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Most acrylic nail applications require a primer to be used. If these primers are applied excessively, it can be damaging to the nail bed. It can also cause irritation if it comes in contact with the skin. For this reason, many people who have sensitive skin choose to go with gel nails.
  • Both acrylic and gel nails can be tricky to remove. The removal process if done incorrectly can damage your nail bed. The best thing to do is have a professional remove them when you’re ready for a new look.

How Long Do They Take?

Both acrylics and gel nails take about one and half hours. Although they take similar amounts of time to apply, there is a difference in how long they take to cure. Acrylic nails usually take a little more time for curing, so that needs to be accounted for. The total time it takes to finish your nails will also depend on the polish colors and designs that you choose. If you want an intricate design with fancy color changes, it might take a little bit longer.

manicurist filing nails

How Do They Feel?

One big difference between the two artificial nail types is the texture and pliability. Gel nails are a bit softer and more “bendy” than acrylics which are hard and brittle. Sometimes people who use their hands a lot choose gel nails for this reason. Acrylic nails are more likely to crack or break while gel nails will bend a little more before breaking.

Which Nail Type Is Right For Me?

The answer to this question depends. If you have sensitive skin or allergies, you may want to go with gel nails. If you want something that is super robust, strong, and defined, try acrylics. Both have their own advantages. You can find out more about which one would be a better fit for you by talking to your nail tech. They can help you get the perfect look you’re going for.

Can I Build a Career Doing Nails?

Yes! If you’re a nail junkie and love this kind of thing, it’s possible to turn your passion into a career. The first step is to contact us at American Beauty College. We are ready to help you get started on your journey to an artistic career that you can love. We can’t wait to see what you create!

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