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Gel Nails Vs Acrylic Nails – Which Should You Use?

With so many options available to women when they hit the salon, the question that most usually ask is “Are gel nails better than acrylic nails?” It’s a very common question, and there isn’t always a straight forward answer.

But you are probably wondering:

What type of nail is right for me? What do I choose? What do I need to know when it comes to gel nails vs acrylic nails?

Before I tell you what my favourite type is, here is what you need to know:

What Are Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails have been the go-to for nail beauty for many years, many women swear by acrylic nails and wouldn’t change to any other type of artificial nails for the world.

As Wikipedia explains, acrylic nails are a mix of liquid monomer and powder polymer. When painted on to the nail, they harden when exposed to the air and create a hard protective layer over your natural nails. When hard, they provide the perfect surface to apply the next colored layer.

acrylic nails
Acrylic Nails

A colored nail polish is then added over the top of the dried acrylic nails. Adding false tips or extension to acrylic nails is a common practice.

So that’s what acrylic nails are, but what about Gel nails?

What Are Gel Nails?

Gel nails use a base coat, polish color (usually 2-3 coats in itself) and a top coat – so the color is part of the gel nail itself.

Here is the main difference:

Gel nails do not harden when exposed to the air and each coat needs to be cured separately with a UV  or a LED nail lamp. The gel polish hardens due to a chemical reaction brought on by the exposure to a UV nail lamp.

So you might be thinking:

Wouldn’t this mean that gel nails are too complicated and hard to do?

Gel nails are by no means the underdogs here, they warrant serious consideration when choosing between gel nails and acrylic nails and there are a number of reasons for this.

Keep reading to learn even more!

gel nails
Gel Nails

Gel Nails vs Acrylic Nails – Which Is Better?

There is no easy answer here, as gel nails and acrylic nails both have their pros and cons. It is important that you choose a type of nail enhancement that suits you.

So why would I choose Acrylic nails?

Acrylic Nails Pros

  • Acrylic nails are relatively easy to repair – If you break one you can repair it without too much fuss at home.
  • Easy to remove – can be easily soaked off.
  • Acrylic nails last about 2 weeks
  • Low cost – generally acrylic nails are cheaper than gel nails.

Ok, but surely there are some bad things about acrylics?

Acrylic Nail Cons

  • Acrylic nails tend to look less natural than gel nails.
  • Can damage your natural nails – this damage can be a breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. In extreme circumstances it can cause an infection in the finger itself.
  • Difficult application process – applying acrylic nails involves using strong chemicals which produce strong fumes. It is highly recommended that pregnant women and anyone with a respitory illness not use acrylic nails
  • Bad for the environment – due to the chemicals being used

And yes, gel nails have pros and cons too:

Gel Nails Pros

  • When applied properly, gel nails look more glossy and natural than acrylic nails.
  • No fumes when applying gel nails
  • Reasonably simple to apply – while there are a few steps and some specialized equipment involved, it is actually fairly simple to apply gel nails.
  • Fast curing time – as low as 45 seconds per coat with a LED light

Gel Nails Cons

  • Gel nails can be harder to remove than acrylic nails. Read our article on how to remove gel nails here.
    gel nails curing
    Gel Nails Require Curing
  • Requires specialized equipment (UV or LED light) for curing. To see the best gel nail kits, see our blog post here.
  • Harder to fix if you break a nail
  • Gel nails tend to not last as long as acrylic nails – expect around 2 weeks (unless you follow this guide to get 3 weeks +!)
  • Due to the specialized equipment required, it costs more to apply gel nails.

So Who Wins? Gel or Acrylic Nails?

So as you can see, there is no clear cut winner in the gel nails vs acrylic nails debate. You need to weigh up the pros and cons of each type and make the decision yourself.

So of course my favourite is gel nails, I absolutely love them. They provide such a natural look and the durability is awesome. For me personally, the gel nails vs acrylic nails war is over……for now!

Obviously this page is dedicated to mainly gel nails, but we also know that they don’t suit everyone – so please do your research and choose wisely!


Which is Easier to do at Home?

Well, that is the million dollar question isn’t it. Each type can be done at home with the right products and equipment. Both gel nails and acrylic nails do take a bit of time and patience to DIY.

But, in my view:

You should certainly try doing them yourself at home. Whichever one you choose, you won’t waste your money and you will learn a new skill.

In fact:

You will save yourself money if you do your own gel nails at home. Think about it…..

Lets do the maths quickly:

So you probably pay $30 (and that’s on the low side) to get your nails done at the salon. You probably have to do it every 3 weeks at least. In a year, that is costing you AT LEAST $520!!

Yes, that’s right, and my estimate of costs is probably on the VERY low side.

So it makes perfect sense:

Lash out, buy yourself a good quality gel nail kit or acrylic nail set and try it. Before you know it you will be doing your friends, your sisters or your kids nails for them and they will LOVE you for it.

And of course:

It will save you money…… that’s logic even your husband can’t argue with 😉

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About Vanessa Steed

I am a mum, a wife and a lover of all things to do with nails and nail polish! I have worked in the beauty industry for over 10 years but am currently an at-home mom looking after my two young kids.

One comment

  1. Environment issue aside – gel vs acrylic nails question is manly depending on your lifestyle. If you are busy career woman then DIY option is a waste of time and quickest way to let someone else do your nails (at salon or freelance nail technician). If you need to lower your expenses then buying gel or acrylic nail kit is the right thing to do just make sure which one is easier for you to make.

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