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The Differences Between Acrylic And Gel Nails

When it comes to enhancing the beauty of our hands, nails play an essential role. If you’ve ever considered getting artificial nails, chances are you’ve asked yourself this crucial question: Which is the best choice between acrylic and gel nails? Each of these techniques has its advantages and disadvantages, and it can be challenging to make a decision. We present to you the differences between acrylic and gel nails.

Acrylic Nails

What Are Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails, also known as acrylic resin nails, are a popular option for those who want stylish and durable artificial nails. They result from the combination of an acrylic powder and an acrylic liquid, thus forming a moldable substance. This mixture is applied to the natural nail, which allows the nail technician to shape and create the desired shape. Once in place, this mixture hardens quickly in contact with air, providing a solid and robust surface. This hardening takes place thanks to a chemical reaction that unites the particles of powder and acrylic liquid, thus generating a solid material.

Benefits Of Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails have several benefits that make them an attractive choice for many people who want long-lasting, strong nails:

  1. Durability: They are able to withstand everyday bumps, scrapes, and stresses, making them an ideal option for those with an active lifestyle.
  2. Robustness: The strength of acrylic nails is indisputable. They don’t break easily, meaning you can count on them to maintain their impeccable appearance for long periods.
  3. Design Options: Acrylic nails offer great flexibility in terms of design. You can shape and personalise them to your preferences, adding colours, patterns, and embellishments for a unique style.
  4. Fade Resistance: Unlike some other types of artificial nails, acrylic nails tend to retain their colour and shine longer, reducing the need for frequent touch-ups.
  5. Easy Maintenance: They are relatively easy to maintain. Simple filing and regular maintenance can extend their life and maintain their appearance.

Disadvantages Of Acrylic Nails

However, like any option, acrylic nails also have a few drawbacks to consider:

  1. Smell: One of the most notable drawbacks to getting acrylic nails done is the smell of the chemicals used. This smell can be unpleasant for some people, although odour-free products are becoming increasingly available.
  2. Difficulty of removal: Removing acrylic nails can be more complex than installing them. It usually requires prolonged soaking in a special remover, followed by a filing process. Removal can, therefore, be time-consuming and must often be carried out by a professional to avoid damage to the natural nails.
  3. Potential Fragility: Although acrylic nails are durable, they can become brittle if not properly maintained or subjected to significant impact. Nails that are too long and too thin are also more likely to break.

Gel Nails

What Are Gel Nails?

Gel nails are a popular alternative to acrylic nails, offering a sleek and natural aesthetic solution. They are made from an acrylic gel, which is a pre-polymerized polymer. Unlike acrylic nails, gel nails are not mixed with air to cure but rather require exposure to a UV or LED light source to catalyse polymerization and harden the gel. 

The gel used to create these nails is a viscous and flexible substance before it hardens. This feature allows the nail stylist to sculpt and shape the gel to achieve the desired shape and length. After curing under UV or LED light, gel nails become strong, clear, and natural, with an appearance that approximates that of natural nails.

Benefits Of Gel Nails

Gel nails have several attractive advantages:

  1. Natural Appearance: One of the best things about gel nails is their natural appearance. Due to their transparency and smooth finish, they are often indistinguishable from natural nails. This makes them ideal for those looking for a discreet and natural appearance.
  2. Flexibility: Gel nails are more flexible than acrylic nails, making them less likely to break or crack under pressure. This flexibility makes them comfortable to wear every day.
  3. No Strong Odour: Unlike acrylic nails, gel nails generally do not emit a strong chemical odour, which is more pleasant for those sensitive to smells.
  4. Durability: Although gel nails may be more flexible, they remain durable and scratch-resistant, making them suitable for an active lifestyle.

Disadvantages Of Gel Nails

However, gel nails are not without their drawbacks.

  1. Potential Fragility: Despite their flexibility, gel nails can be more fragile than acrylic nails. Improper application or excessive length can make them more prone to breakage.
  2. Curing Process: Gel nails require exposure to UV or LED light to cure, which means the process may take a little longer compared to applying acrylic nails.
  3. Difficulty of Removal: Removing gel nails can be tricky and must be done carefully to avoid damage to natural nails. It may also require the use of specific products and the intervention of a professional.

The Differences Between Acrylic And Gel Nails When Applying

When applying and constructing false nails, the techniques differ significantly. Although the differences are not very apparent after installation, they may be evident during installation.

For gel nails, the gel has a sticky, viscous, paste-like consistency. It requires the use of a UV lamp to catalyse the gel. One of the significant advantages of gel is that you have a longer working time. You can shape and adjust the shape at your own pace, making it more accessible to beginners. 

Brushes used for modelling gel have shorter, firmer bristles than those used for resin. Additionally, the gel has no noticeable odour when applied. When it comes to resin or acrylic, the main difference from the gel is that the material dries naturally in the open air without the need for a UV catalyst. However, this means you have a limited amount of time to build the nail, usually about a minute on average, depending on the type of acrylic used. It is essential to have all the necessary equipment from a nail technician to carry out the application. 

For application, you dip your brush in the monomer, then in the acrylic powder, and you form a ball that you model on the nail. Brushes used for acrylic have longer, softer bristles than those used for gel. Another notable difference is that the monomer, which is used with the resin, gives off a powerful odour that can be bothersome to some people.

The Differences Between Acrylic And Gel Nails For The Wearer 

For the wearer, the gel offers a slight flexibility, making the nails slightly more flexible compared to an acrylic application. This increased flexibility means that if a nail breaks, there is generally less damage to the natural nail. Plus, the gel finish is naturally glossy, unlike acrylic. However, it is expected to apply a colour coat or top coat to achieve the desired final finish.

When it comes to acrylic, nails are solid, equivalent to the hardness of concrete. However, this can cause more pain for the natural nail if it breaks. The result of acrylic is generally non-glossy, but this is usually fine as the finish is adjusted once the colour or top coat is applied.

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