Acrylic vs Gel Nails Pros Cons

Mila, the veteran beauty cosmetics professional and author of this article, while cutting and styling the hair of her client

Hi! I’m Mila. I share my 44-year experience as a Beauty Professional in this blog.This content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Consult your Aesthetician for your beauty needs.

Want to glam up your nails but can’t decide between acrylic and gel? Choosing the right nail enhancement is a common beauty predicament. Did you know that both types have their own advantages; with acrylics being more durable, while gels are gentler on natural nails during removal? This blog will guide you through each option’s pros and cons so you can make an informed choice.

Ready to elevate your nail game? Keep reading!

Key Takeaways

  • Acrylic nails are highly durable, making them less prone to cracking or lifting compared to gel nails.
  • Gel nails offer a more natural – looking appearance and flexibility, allowing for easy bending without breaking or chipping easily.
  • Acrylic nails require regular maintenance and fill – ins every two to three weeks, while gel nails require less upkeep.
  • Acrylic nails are generally cheaper than gel nails, making them a more cost – effective option.

What are Gel and Acrylic Nails?

Gel and Acrylic nails belong to the category of artificial nails, also known as nail enhancements or extensions. Acrylic nails are formed by a combination of liquid monomer and a powder polymer that hardens when exposed to air.

Resilient and robust, acrylic products form an excellent platform for nail polish application due to their durability.

On the other hand, gel nails involve applying multiple layers of a special type of gel nail polish that cures under an LED or UV light. The curing process gives them strength and allows them to adhere firmly onto your natural nails without causing too much damage.

Gel enhancements offer flexibility with fewer chances for cracking or breaking down over time than traditional acrylics while adding length and strength to weak or short nails.

Comparison of Gel and Acrylic Nails

Gel and acrylic nails have differences in appearance, durability, application process, maintenance, removal, and cost.

Appearance and durability

Acrylic nails are known for their durability and long-lasting nature. They are extremely strong and less prone to cracks, breaks, or lifting. With acrylic nails, you can enjoy chip-free polish for a longer period of time.

On the other hand, gel nails offer a more natural-looking appearance. They have a glossy finish that resembles natural nails and allows for flexibility and bending without easily breaking or chipping.

Gel nails also tend to be gentler on the natural nails during removal, reducing the risk of damage. Whether you prefer the sturdiness of acrylics or the natural aesthetics of gels, both options can enhance your nail appearance while providing strength and lasting power.

Application process

To apply acrylic nails, a nail technician will first clean your natural nails and then apply a liquid monomer and powder polymer mixture on top of them. This creates a thick paste that the technician will shape into the desired nail shape using a brush.

The mixture hardens as it is exposed to air, creating strong and durable artificial nails. For gel nails, the process involves applying a base coat, followed by several layers of gel polish that are cured under UV or LED light.

Each layer is applied and cured individually to build up thickness and strength. Once all the layers have been applied and cured, the technician will finish with a top coat for added shine and protection.

Maintenance and removal

Maintaining and removing acrylic nails requires regular upkeep. To keep them looking their best, you’ll need to schedule routine fill-ins every two to three weeks. This involves filling in the area between the nail bed and the acrylic extension with more acrylic material, which helps to maintain their shape and strength.

In terms of removal, it’s best to have a professional remove your acrylic nails at a salon using a special solution or by gently filing them down. It’s important not to pick or peel off the nails yourself, as this can damage your natural nails underneath.

On the other hand, gel nails require less maintenance and are often easier to remove because they can be soaked off with acetone-based solutions without damaging your natural nails.


Acrylic nails are generally cheaper than gel nails. If you’re on a budget, acrylic nails might be the more cost-effective choice for you. They typically require fewer expensive materials and can be done at a lower cost in most nail salons.

Gel nails, on the other hand, tend to be pricier due to the special gel products and UV or LED light curing that is required during application. So, if affordability is a concern for you, acrylic nails may be the way to go.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails have several advantages, including their long-lasting durability and ability to withstand daily wear and tear. However, they can also be prone to chipping and require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best.

Advantages of Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails have several advantages that make them a popular choice among nail enthusiasts. Firstly, acrylic nails are incredibly durable and long-lasting, making them ideal for those who want chip-free and strong nails.

They are less prone to cracks, breaks, and lifting compared to other options. Additionally, acrylic nails can be customized to any length or shape, allowing you to achieve your desired look effortlessly.

Moreover, acrylics can strengthen natural nails by providing an extra layer of protection. Lastly, acrylic nails are more affordable than gel alternatives without compromising on quality.

Disadvantages of Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails have some drawbacks to consider. Firstly, they can be more prone to lifting and breaking compared to gel nails. This means you may need more frequent touch-ups or repairs.

Additionally, acrylic nails can sometimes look less natural than gel nails due to their thicker appearance. Another disadvantage is the potential for allergic reactions to the acrylic monomers used in the application process, which can cause skin irritation or redness.

Finally, removing acrylic nails can require filing them down, which may weaken your natural nail bed over time.

Pros and Cons of Gel Nails

Gel nails have several advantages, such as their long-lasting power and chip-free appearance. However, they can be more expensive compared to acrylic nails and require additional maintenance.

Advantages of Gel Nails

Gel nails have several advantages that make them a popular choice for many individuals. One major advantage is their natural and glossy appearance. Gel nails can give your nails a smooth, shiny finish that mimics the look of natural nails.

Additionally, gel nails are highly durable and less prone to chipping or breaking compared to other types of artificial nails. This means you can enjoy chip-free and long-lasting manicures with gel nail polish.

Furthermore, the removal process for gel nails is usually easier and gentler on your natural nails compared to acrylics. Gel nail polish can be soaked off without causing damage or weakening your own nail bed.

Disadvantages of Gel Nails

Gel nails have their drawbacks as well. One disadvantage of gel nails is that they require UV or LED light curing, which means you’ll need to spend extra time under a nail lamp during the application process.

Additionally, if you’re someone who likes to frequently change your nail color, gel nails can be more challenging to remove compared to acrylic nails. Gel removal often involves soaking the nails in acetone for an extended period of time.

This prolonged exposure to acetone can weaken and dry out your natural nails over time. Another downside of gel nails is that they typically cost more than acrylics. So if you’re on a tight budget, gel might not be the best option for you.

Which is Better: Gel or Acrylic Nails?

When it comes to comparing gel and acrylic nails, several factors come into play. The natural-looking appearance, durability, ease of removal, and potential damage to natural nails all play a role in determining which option is better for you.

Natural-looking appearance

Gel nails are known for their natural-looking appearance, making them a popular choice among beauty enthusiasts. The gel polish is more flexible and allows for a natural bend and flexibility of the nail.

This means that they look and feel more like real nails. On the other hand, acrylic nails can also achieve a natural look, but may appear slightly less realistic compared to gel nails.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference when deciding which option will give you the most natural-looking results.


Acrylic nails are known for their exceptional durability. They are more resistant to cracks, breaks, and lifting compared to gel nails. This means that acrylic nails tend to last longer and stay chip-free for an extended period of time.

On the other hand, gel nails are also quite durable but offer a different kind of strength. They are more flexible and less brittle than acrylics, making them less likely to chip or break.

Gel nails allow for natural bending and flexibility of the nail while still providing lasting power. So whether you prefer the robustness of acrylic or the flexibility of gel, both options can provide you with long-lasting and beautiful results.

Ease of removal

Removing gel nails is generally easier and less damaging to the natural nail compared to removing acrylic nails. Gel nails can be easily soaked-off using acetone or specialized gel nail removers, without the need for excessive filing or buffing.

This makes the removal process quicker and more convenient. On the other hand, acrylic nails require a longer removal process as they need to be filed down before soaking in acetone.

Moreover, while both types of nails can cause some damage to the natural nail during removal, gel nails are considered gentler on the nails and less likely to cause weakening or thinning.

Damage to natural nails

Acrylic nails, although long-lasting and durable, can cause damage to your natural nails. The process of applying and removing acrylics involves buffing the surface of your natural nails, which can weaken them over time.

Additionally, the chemicals used in acrylic application may cause allergic reactions or skin irritations for some individuals. It’s important to give your natural nails a break between acrylic applications to allow them to recover and grow strong again.

Consider using gel nails instead if you’re concerned about potential damage to your natural nails, as they are generally gentler during removal and less likely to cause harm.


In conclusion, when considering acrylic vs gel nails, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each. Acrylic nails offer durability and a lower price point, but they can be more prone to cracking or lifting.

On the other hand, gel nails provide a natural-looking appearance with flexibility and easier removal. Ultimately, the choice between acrylic and gel nails depends on your personal preferences and nail care needs.


1. What are the main differences between acrylic and gel nails?

The main differences lie in nail strength, durability, application process and maintenance needs, with gel nails known for their chip-free longevity and acrylic nails admired for their strong extension capabilities.

2. How do I choose between Acrylic or Gel Nails given my weak natural nails?

Consider your nail care options carefully as both provide strength to weak nails but differ in aesthetics and maintenance; Gel is more natural-looking while Acrylic requires regular refilling.

3. Are there pros and cons of long-lasting shellac vs traditional polish on fake nails?

Yes! While Shellac ensures a long-lasting nail art design without chipping, it may compromise the underlying nail health due to its hard-to-remove nature. Traditional polish offers less durability but allows easier switch of designs.

4. Which one lasts longer – Acrylic or Gel Nails?

While individual results can vary based on personal habits and lifestyle, generally speaking, both offer a high degree of durability with different levels of upkeep: Acrylics require refills every 2-3 weeks while Gels should be redone every couple weeks to avoid lifting.

5. Can I get creative designs on both Acrylic and Gel Nails?

Absolutely! Both extensions allow you complete freedom in expressing your style through various nail arts – from simple polishes to complex 3D designs.

Acrylic vs Gel Nails Pros Cons
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