Acrylic Nails vs Gel Nails: Which is Better and Last Longer?


Both acrylics and gels can damage natural nails if not applied or removed properly. Knowing the pros and cons of each helps you make informed decisions about your nail health. For example, if you’re concerned about potential damage, gels might be a better option as they’re generally considered less damaging than acrylics. This blog helps you to understand the difference between acrylic vs gel nails that best suit your needs.

Meet Our Acrylic vs Gel Nails Artists

  1. Katie Dutra is a gel nail artist & educator. She is the Structured Gel Manicures & Nail Art.
  2. MYLEE is the gel nails expert at home. She has her own salon for quality nails and she also provides Wax + Beauty service.
  3. Ayesha is the South FL Acrylic Nail & Toe Specialist. She is the French fairy and accepts new clients.

What is Acrylic Nails

Acrylic Nails Acrylic Nail

Acrylic nails are a combination of a powder and a liquid that sculpts your dream nails. That’s the magic of acrylics! The powder (polymer) and liquid (monomer) combine to form a moldable material that’s applied directly to your natural nails and sculpted into your desired nail shapes and lengths. Acrylics harden in the air, eliminating the need for a lamp.

Acrylic Nails Application

Getting acrylics involves several steps:

  1. Prep work: Your nails are trimmed, filed, and buffed to create a smooth base.
  2. Tip application: Artificial nail tips are glued onto your natural nails for extra length (optional).
  3. Sculpting the magic: The acrylic mixture is applied and meticulously sculpted into your desired shape.
  4. Filing and refining: The acrylic is filed and smoothed to achieve a flawless finish.
  5. Polish party: Your chosen polish is applied, and voila, your dazzling nails are ready!

How to Do Acrylic Nails Last Long

Acrylic nails are renowned for their impressive durability. With proper care, they can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks, making them ideal for those who crave a long-lasting manicure.

Also Read: 20 Bright Summer Nails Design Ideas to Try For Every Style

What Is the Cost Of Acrylic Nails

While the cost can vary depending on your location, salon, and desired complexity, acrylic nails generally fall in the range of $35 to $65 or more for a full set. This price typically includes the application, shaping, and your initial polish color. Acrylics require regular maintenance to maintain length and address growth. Plan on getting refills every 2-4 weeks, costing $20 to $40 depending on how much new acrylic needs application.

What is Gel Nails

Gel Nails Gel Nail

Think of gel as a high-tech polish on steroids. It uses a special type of polish that cures under a UV or LED lamp, locking in the color and creating a super-shiny, durable finish. It can be applied to your natural nails to add strength and shine, or used with extensions for dramatic length.

Gel Nails Applications

Gel application is a streamlined process:

  1. Natural nail prep: Similar to acrylics, your nails are prepped for optimal adhesion.
  2. Base coat and color: A thin layer of gel base coat is applied, followed by your chosen gel polish color. Each layer is cured under the UV/LED lamp.
  3. Top coat magic: A final layer of gel top coat seals the deal, adding shine and extra protection.

How Long Does the Gel Polish Last?

Gel nails offer a respectable wear time of 2-3 weeks. While not quite as durable as acrylics, they boast a more natural-looking finish.

Also Read: Hailey Bieber Nails 2024: Glazed Donut Shine & Chrome Accents

What Is the Cost Of Acrylic Nails

Gel nails tend to be slightly more expensive than acrylics. A full gel manicure, including application, shaping, and your chosen gel polish color, typically ranges from $35 to $80 or more. This cost can fluctuate depending on your location, the salon you visit, and the complexity of the design. Gel manicures also require refills every 2-3 weeks to maintain their chip-free look. Gel nail refills cost between $25 and $40 depending on the amount of new gel polish applied.

Cost Difference Between Acrylic vs Gel Nails

Expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $65 for a brand-new set of acrylic nails at most salons. That initial cost might seem like a bargain, but remember – acrylics require regular maintenance. Luckily, fill-ins to keep your acrylics looking fresh typically cost half as much as a full set, ranging from $20 to $30.

Gel nails, on the other hand, generally come with a slightly steeper price tag. A gel manicure or a set of gel extensions can set you back anywhere between $35 and $80.

Acrylic Vs Gel Nails Pros & Cons

Feature Acrylic Nails Gel Nails
Material Powder & Liquid Gel Polish
Application Sculpted with mixture Applied in thin layers
Curing Time Hardens in air Cured under UV/LED lamp
Durability 2-4 weeks 2-3 weeks
Look Can appear thicker More natural-looking
Removal Requires soaking in acetone Filed off before soaking in acetone
Pros Very durable, good for long nails More natural look, less damaging
Cons Thicker appearance, stronger odor, potentially more damaging Less durable, and may not be suitable for long nails

How to Remove Gel and Acrylic Enhancements

Both acrylic and gel removal require a professional touch. We soak off acrylics with acetone, while gel nails require buffing before soaking in acetone to remove any leftover polish. Improper removal can damage your natural nails, so leave it to the experts!

Gel Nails Remover Video

Acrylic Nails Remover Video

Read More: 12 Ombré Nail Designs That You Will Love In 2024

Acrylic Vs Gel Nails Pros & Cons

Feature Acrylic Nails Gel Nails
Appearance Can look thicker and less natural, especially if not applied well. Can achieve a more natural, glossy finish.
Durability Very strong and long-lasting (up to 8 weeks with fills). Durable, but not as strong as acrylics (lasts 2-3 weeks).
Flexibility Less flexible, and can crack or break if snagged. More flexible, and less prone to cracking or breaking.
Application Requires mixing liquid and powder, and can have a strong odor. Uses pre-mixed gel, faster application with UV/LED lamp curing.
Removal Requires soaking or buffing off, can damage natural nails if not done properly. Soaks off with acetone, generally less damaging to natural nails.
Cost Generally less expensive than gel nails. Generally more expensive than acrylic nails.
Suitability Good for those who want long-lasting, strong nails and don’t mind a slightly thicker look. Good for those who want a more natural-looking nail and have flexible lifestyles.

Acrylic Nails vs Gel Nails: Choose Your Perfect Match

Here we will help you to choose which nail is better for you, according to the given options:

  • Durability queen? Go for acrylics.
  • Craving a natural look? The gel might be your match.
  • Your lifestyle plays a key role! If you frequently use harsh chemicals, the flexibility of gel nails could be your saving grace.

No matter your pick, both acrylic and gel nails can elevate your mani game. So, flaunt those fabulous nails and embrace the world of beautiful enhancements!

Also Read: How To Take Off Acrylic Nails At Home Without Damage Your Nails


Which reigns supreme: acrylic or gel nails? It depends! Acrylics are the durability champs, lasting a bit longer and ideal for dramatic length. Gel offers a more natural look and might be kinder to your nails if you’re rough on your hands. 

Both options bring stunning, long-lasting results. Consider your priorities and lifestyle to find your perfect match! No matter your choice, acrylic or gel can take your manicure to the next level. Flaunt those fabulous nails!

You may also read: 30 Short Coffin Nails Designs To Rock This Season 2024


What is gel x vs acrylic?

Gel-X and acrylic nails are both ways to get artificial nails, but they differ in their application and materials. Acrylics involve mixing a liquid and powder to create a custom extension sculpted onto your natural nail. Gel-X nail technicians apply pre-made soft gel tips directly to your natural nails using gel polish as an adhesive. This makes Gel-X generally less damaging, quicker to apply, and odorless compared to acrylics. However, acrylics tend to be more durable and better for very long nails.

What are gel nails vs acrylic?

Gel and acrylic nails both create long-lasting manicures but differ in application. Gel uses light-cured polish on your natural nail or tip, offering a natural look. Acrylics are a sculpted mix of liquid and powder, stronger but thicker and potentially damaging.

Which is better for your nails, gel or acrylic?

Gel nails are the clear winner for gentleness on your natural nails. Their thinner, more flexible nature means they put less stress on your own nails compared to acrylics. However, remember that healthy nails rely on both proper application and removal, regardless of the method you choose.

Which lasts longer acrylic nails or gel nails?

Acrylic nails generally last longer than gel nails, with a wear time of 2-4 weeks compared to gel’s 2-3 weeks. Both require refills to maintain their look.

Does acrylic damage your nails more than gel?

Yes, acrylics are generally more damaging than gel. The removal process is harsher and the acrylic itself can be thicker and put more stress on your natural nails.

Are gel nails fake nails?

Gel nails offer versatility! You can apply them directly to your natural nails for a chip-resistant manicure, or combine them with extensions for glamorous fake nails. They truly are a two-in-one option!

Does acrylic damage your nails more than gel?

Yes, acrylics are generally more damaging than gel nails. The removal process for acrylics can be harsher, and the acrylic itself can be thicker and put more stress on your natural nails.