Gel Nails vs. Acrylic: Which Is the Right Choice?
Gel nails and acrylic nails both offer different advantages. But the right option depends on a person’s needs and what they are looking for out of a manicure.
HICI Go offers a variety of cosmetology and wellness courses, including nail courses, through live in-person courses in Florida, Texas, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and live webinars, and online video courses available to students across the U.S. Courses are designed for professionals looking to gain essential skills and for students entering the field, as well as enthusiasts who just want to learn how professionals do things.
Here, we discuss what gel nails are, what acrylic nails are, and the benefits of each.
What Are Gel Nails?
Gel nail polish is a type of nail polish that creates a hardened layer over your natural nails. Although it’s more durable than regular nail polish, it’s applied similarly via a brush that’s dipped into a polish color. It is then painted directly onto your natural nails. Different from regular polish, gel nails require a UV light to dry. Between each coat, nail technicians place your hand under a UV lamp device. The hand must stay under the light for about 30 to 60 seconds.
Before applying the polish, nails and hands must be prepped and cleaned. This can include cutting cuticles and fingernails and filing and shaping nails. It can also involve using a drill and other devices to remove any old gel nail polish. The price of gel nail extensions can vary depending on your location and the services offered at your nail salon.
What Are Acrylic Nails?
Acrylic nails are a type of manicure that provides more strength and customization benefits in terms of nail length, design, and shape. Acrylic nails are applied differently than gel nails, as they involve combining a powder polymer with a liquid monomer. To begin an acrylic nail manicure, nail technicians prep and clean the nails using regular manicure preparation techniques. However, with acrylic nails, nail technicians may also use a drill to prep the nails. After nails are cleaned and trimmed, nail technicians apply a plastic tip to the end of each nail. This works to extend the length. Once the plastic tips are applied, the nail technician cuts, shapes, and files the nails to the desired length and shape.
After nails are shaped, nail technicians dip a brush into a liquid solution and then the powder acrylic substance. This creates a gel-like paste that is then applied over the natural nail and plastic tip. The paste is layered and brushed onto natural nails until a thick, even coat is applied. After the paste dries, the nails are filed and drilled even further to create a sharp, natural-looking nail. Acrylic nails can be painted using gel nail polish, regular polish, or other polishes like dip powder.
Which Technique Is Best?
Gel nails are a popular choice for those who want a long-lasting manicure that can hold up through many regular hands-on activities. They’re designed to prevent cracks and chips throughout wear and ensure nails stay glossy and fresh for days. With proper care, gel manicures can last as long as three weeks. Getting a gel manicure can also be a more cost-effective manicure choice.
Gel nails are also the best option in terms of providing strength to nails without damaging them. But like acrylic nails, this can depend on the removal process. Improper removal of gel polish and acrylic can damage and tear natural nails, causing issues with nail beds and re-growth. It can also make nails softer and more brittle. Removing gel nail polish and acrylic correctly and safely can maintain natural nail health.
Acrylic nails are another popular choice for those who want a long-lasting manicure. In many cases, acrylic manicures can be more durable and last longer than gel ones. For example, gel nails must be redone every two or three weeks. Some might need more frequent nail refreshes depending on how they use their hands. With acrylic nails, they can be filled every two or more weeks and replaced every couple of months.
Acrylic nails can also provide more customization options than gel nails, especially for their shape and length. Gel manicures simply use the client’s natural nails to create a stunning look. But with acrylics, the process involves adding tips to the nails, which increases your creative possibilities. Clients can ask for any length, and they can choose from a variety of nail shapes. Some may want more traditional shapes like round or square, but others may want specific nail shapes, like coffin, almond, stiletto, or others. Because of the added nail space, clients can also have the freedom to explore detailed nail designs.
Learn About Nails at HICI Go
Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn or a seasoned professional who wants to stay up-to-date in the nail industry, HICI Go offers nail tech courses online to students across the U.S. We also partner with Cortiva Institute and Hollywood Institute for in-person courses in Florida, Texas, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. To learn more about gel nails and other courses we offer, contact us today.