Which Is Better for the Natural Nail, Acrylic or Gel?

by Stephanie Theva ; Updated September 28, 2017

Although acrylic nails are stronger and last longer than gel nails, they look less natural.

Boris Kaulin/iStock/Getty Images

Choosing between acrylic and gel nails may not be a life-or-death decision, but for a first-timer, it can be just as overwhelming. It doesn’t need to be; women have been using manicures to strengthen, lengthen and beautify their nails for 5,000 years.

Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails involve a mixture of liquid acrylic and polymer powder that is brushed onto the nail. They are cheaper than gel nails and easier to apply at home and fix yourself if a nail breaks. They are also easier to remove than gel nails, taking only 15 to 20 minutes using acetone. However, acrylics are harsher on your natural nails, sometimes leaving an impression after removal.

Gel Nails

Applying gel nails involves more expertise. Thin layers of gel are applied to the nail and cured under UV light until they set. Gel nails look more natural than acrylic nails but are more expensive. However, the procedure is odorless, whereas acrylic mixtures have a strong smell. Unfortunately, gel nails are much more difficult to apply and fix at home, and they are more difficult to remove. Since the gel surface cannot be penetrated by acetone, it needs to be carefully filed by a manicurist. Gel nails are also less durable than acrylic nails.

Which is Better?

If damage to the natural nail is your main concern, then gel nails are the best choice, since they are less harsh. However, they are more expensive and need to be applied by a skilled manicurist.

Photo Credits

  • Boris Kaulin/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Based in Toronto, Stephanie Theva has been writing professionally since 2009. She was the co-editor of "The Executive," a quarterly magazine for business students at the University of Toronto. Theva currently is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Toronto.