If you regularly get your nails done at a salon and either get extensions or overlays then you’ve pretty much got 2 options; gel or acrylic. But how are they different? And which is actually better?
What are they?
Well, both come from the acrylic family of plastics but acrylic nails are done by mixing a liquid and powder to form a thick gel. They are mixed as they’re being done (not in advance), applied to the nail, spread thickly and then left to air dry. Gels, on the other hand, involve applying a layer of gel to the nails and then drying under a UV light. Interestingly, both of these techniques came from dental technology, used for bridges and crowns. Actually, a lot of large nail product companies started in dental products before moving in to cosmetics. OPI, for instance, first stood for Odontorium Products Inc.
Why are acrylics better?
For starters, acrylics are cheaper. The average full set of acrylics will cost you £30, while a full set of gels will cost you more like £40 or £50. They’re also much more durable. Because acrylics are thicker and stronger, they are less likely to suffer breakages or chips, and they also last longer (subject to how quickly your nails grow and therefore how often you need infills). And also, the possibilities are endless. Gel nails are applied as the desired colour, so you only have the range that gel companies offer. With acrylics, they are applied as a pale pink, almost translucent colour, and then the nail colour is applied over the top using a normal nail varnish. So you can essentially choose from every nail varnish colour ever made, rather than be limited to a specialist line.
Why are gels better?
A lot of people prefer gel nails because they look a lot more natural. The liquid applied is much thinner, so they are more flexible and act a lot more like your natural nails. This is especially favourable if you’re getting overlays on your actual nail, with no added extensions. While gel nails may be more expensive, they are actually quicker to get done. They have a faster curing time, thanks to the UV light, so a trip to the salon will take up less of your day. And even though they are more expensive, it does show. Gel nails are super glossy and look of a very high quality, whereas acrylic nails can go wrong more easily with product applied too thickly or unevenly.
Both have their pros and cons so it depends what false nails mean to you; are they erring on the side of tacky, a total necessity, or a once-in-a-blue-moon treat? Whichever you prefer, it’s worth bearing in mind that both can be damaging to your natural nail beds so strengthening products are a good idea.