Acrylic nails have been leading the artificial nail pack for forty years now. Gel nails are rapidly gaining in popularity, however, becoming a serious contender for the top position. The next time you get your nails done, you want to make sure that you make the right choice. So what is the difference between gel and acrylic nails?
Acrylic nails are glued to your natural nail. They can be colored or they can be a blank canvas for you to decorate however you wish. Gel nails, on the other hand, are painted directly onto your natural nail. The advantage to this is that they are less likely to damage your natural nails. You are left with a clear, hard finish that can be painted any way you like. Professionally done acrylic nails rarely result in damage, but if they are applied improperly, which often happens if you choose to do your own nails at home, the results can be disastrous. Poorly done acrylic nails can even cause fungal growth and infections.
Each coat of gel polish has to be dried under a UV light before the next coat can be applied. This process does not release any fumes, unlike the heavy odor that comes with acrylic nails. It is also non-toxic. The toxins in acrylic nails make it unwise for pregnant women to get their nails done using this method. The downside to gel nails, however, is that UV light can be harmful if it is not used with caution. Make sure you visit a salon that offers UV protective gloves to any clients getting gel nails.
Acrylic nails are harder than gel nails. They are more durable than gel nails and tend to last longer. If acrylic nails do get damaged, it is almost always possible for you to repair them yourself in your home. Gel nails aren’t as strong and when they break they tend to shatter. This makes them impossible to repair on most occasions. They are also more expensive, which means you end up paying more for a weaker nail.
The extra price is mostly due to the finish. Acrylic nails have a matte finish while gel nails have a glossy finish. Which you prefer is purely personal taste. However, gel nails do tend to have a more natural look. Acrylic nails are more bulky than gel nails, which contributes to their strength but also makes them look more fake.
The added strength of acrylic nails is not necessarily a good thing all the time. Gel nails are thinner and more flexible than acrylic nails. This is partially what helps make them look more realistic. It also makes them less likely to break. Acrylic nails are often so strong that they become rigid, and instead of giving to pressure they break off.
Most acrylic nails are very easy to remove- they simply need soaked off. Some soak off gel nails are on the market now, but many of them still require filing to remove. Gel nails in general are still less common than acrylics. You may have trouble finding a salon that does gel nails, although this is becoming less and less true.
Some people do have an allergic reaction to the acrylic. This is usually not an issue if care is taken to apply the acrylic nail properly, avoiding contact with the skin. Neither acrylic nor gel nails cause any corrosive damage to the nail bed if they are applied properly.
The curing time for acrylic nails is longer than for gel nails. The difference, though, is that acrylic nails air dry but gel nails do not dry until they are placed under a UV light. In salons, this makes gel nails the faster way to go. Because most people don’t have UV lights at home, acrylic nails are you only option if you are trying to stay out of the salon.
Both gel and acrylic nails can be used to increase the length of your natural nail. This is helpful if you have very short nails and would like to cover them while you wait for them to grow out. Both products are also used to protect your nails and make them stronger. Be aware, however, that over time the repeated use of any artificial nail ends up weakening your natural nails.
When done properly, neither gel nor acrylic nails should cause any damage to your nail bed. Overdoing fake nails can damage your natural nails over time, but if you give your nails a break in between applications they should be fine. If you are noticing damage to your nail bed, it is most likely due to improper application or removal of the acrylic or gel. Rather than try a different method, you should try a different stylist.
With this in mind, do not choose your salon based on price alone. To get healthy, great looking nails, you are going to have to pay for a stylist who knows what they are doing and have kept up with the latest application and removal techniques. Cheaper salons often use older methods of doing things that could cause damage.
Both gel and acrylic nails can be used for longer nails that look great and protect your natural nail. Which one you end up getting is entirely up to you. Just remember to do your homework and find a stylist who will take good care of you and your nails.