Gel vs. Acrylic Nails: What’s the Difference?

Gel vs. Acrylic Nails: What’s the Difference?

Gel vs. Acrylic Nails: What’s the Difference?

ohora has everything you need to know about the fundamental differences between gel nails and acrylic nails. Read on to find all the details you need for your next manicure.

The Magic Is in the Details

In the great wide world of nails, your choices are endless. However, one of the most foundational choices you make is how you treat your natural nails. Your nail bed is a vital part of your nail anatomy and should be treated with care. Your nail bed holds the nail in place and protects your skin from damage and infection.

The various ways we beautify our nails can affect the skin beneath — from nail extensions to the polish and even the acetone we have at home. The more wear and tear our nails go through, the higher the chance of our nails turning brittle, frail, and breakable.

Because of this risk, it’s important to know the differences between all your options when beautifying your nails. Knowing how different treatments can harm or help your natural nail health will keep them in better shape in the long run.

Lucky for you, ohora has done the hard part and gathered everything you need to know right here. Keep scrolling to learn all of the information for yourself.

What Is Gel Polish?

The gel manicure is, by far, one of the most common methods of nail beautification. However, some people often confuse traditional gel polish with shellac. These two materials are sometimes combined and used at nail salons. It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting if you ever have to decide between them. The difference isn’t incredibly startling, but it’s still useful to know what is being used on your body.

The main difference between shellac and gel nails is what they are made using. Gel nails are made from 100% gel polish. On the other hand, shellac is normally a mix between gel and regular nail polish. Shellac is also basically the “brand name” for polishes of its kind, like calling a tissue a “Kleenex.”

Both polishes, however, are UV gel and are applied with multiple coats of color along with a base coat and topcoat. They are also cured fully under a UV light until fully hardened with a glossy finish.

Gel polish works exclusively with a UV light during a gel manicure to “cure” the polish. Cure means to quickly dry or harden under light exposure. The gel hardens when the reacting monomers and polymers in gel polish combine. Though this process is specific for some nail processes like gel nails, monomers and polymers are in most nail liquids.

At the end of the process, this leaves a fully dry and smudge-proof result, making gel a popular option. To do your nails like a pro at home, ohora has portable UV lamps available that make any nail experience a breeze. Gone are the days when you have to leave the salon with stiff mannequin hands for the next hour.

What Is Acrylic?

Acrylic is another popular option for nail lovers around the world. Acrylic is a versatile plastic material. It creates durable, stiff, and clear items used for several things, not just our nails.

Salons use the powder form of acrylic plastic combined with a liquid monomer that allows a nail technician to mold and shape the acrylic to your nails before it semi-cures itself. A nail tech will finish the curing process under a UV light, just like with gel. Then, they file and sand down the hardened acrylic nails to a natural-looking nail shape for long or short nails.

A big reason why nail aficionados have loved acrylic so much is that it gives the option for nail extensions. For acrylic nail extensions, most manicurists will have fake nails of a plastic base and glue them to the tips of your natural nails. This adds some length, should you desire it.

If you’re looking for length, acrylic is an option that bonds with your natural nail and smooths into a unified shape. Most people don’t leave the salon after the nails have been attached. At this point, the acrylic nails can be seen as being attached to your nails. They have created a lovely shape, but there is still a need for them to be painted or beautifully designed.

Gel nail polish is still used to take the hardened basic acrylic to the next level with color and nail art that gets crazier and more creative by the year.

How Does Removal Affect My Nails?

So you’re familiar with gel, and you know all about acrylics — what now? How do you know which nail enhancement is the one for you? Let’s discuss some of the pros and cons of the direct nail health of both.

UV exposure and the removal process can be valid worries about the nail health following both gel and acrylic manis.

It seems that comparatively, gel nails have a better rep than acrylic. Gel nail coating on your natural nail seems to put less mileage on your nail bed, especially when the removal process happens properly and with enough time for recovery between nail sessions.

The removal of gel and acrylic is somewhat similar in that they use a soaking method. Your fingertips are wrapped in an acetone-soaked cotton ball or piece of pulled cotton. Then your nails sit for some time as the hardened polish softens.

Once it’s soft enough and loosened from your nail, you can easily scrape off the residue and discard it. After a quick wipe, your nails are clean and ready for a fresh coat.

This process differs a bit with acrylic. Instead of removing the nails, you can go back to the salon to fill in the acrylic where it’s grown out. There’s no need to take it off and do a fresh set.

This process means your nails are kept under a layer of material for a longer period. This could result in a damaged nail. The best tip we can give you is to never ever tear artificial nails or gel polish off on your own. Always use a salon method of removal or make use of acetone to soften the gel and acrylic before gently scraping it off.

Honorable Mentions

Here are a few other differences between acrylic vs. gel — in case removal damage and longevity aren’t the only things you were curious about.

Nail designs and nail art are a big deal in nail trends as of late. While basics like the stylish french manicure will always be a staple of nails, it’s becoming less common to see a fresh set of claws. More people are going all out to show them off.

While both gel and acrylic are privy to nail art, longer acrylics seem to be on the trendy train lately because of nail extensions. You’ve got more room to work with and more art to showcase. And you can file them into any length and shape your heart desires which is a bonus.

In recent nail news, there may be a silver lining for everyone wanting the health benefit of gel but the wow factor and length of fake nails. Gel extensions are on the rise, using all the gel benefits while still giving you the extension you crave.

These gel extensions are cured much like gel polish, except they are pre-nail shaped and cover the entire nail instead of just being glued to the tip. As it already has a classic nail shape and requires no additional work such as molding the powder polymer, sanding it, filing it, or clipping it, gel extension is one of the fastest methods for length and application.

Gel extensions may also be the healthier option for your nails if simple gel polish on a natural nail isn’t your style.

So, Which One’s Best?

When asked if acrylic or gel is better for nails, we would lean towards gel. Gel polish is more easily removed, and it doesn’t bond to your nail the same way for as long as the acrylic product does.

You should strive to give your nails the proper rest between redoing them and allowing the product to be removed the right way every time. When you apply and remove it properly, gel polish is a much better alternative to its acrylic counterpart.

Happy Curing

Now, you know all the nail tips you need to know about the best option for you. We’re confident that the next step of your nail journey — manicure or pedicure — will be healthy and fabulous. In fact, take a trip over to our wide selection of at-home semi-cured products and test out a few of them for yourself.

ohora semi-cured gel nails offer tons of options to match your style or mood. From fun and flirty to elegant and sophisticated, we provide countless options because we know how important it is to be confident and express yourself. All our nails are durable with affordable salon-quality brought right to your couch.

We’re sure you’ll love them as much as we do.


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