The Pros And Cons Of Gel And Acrylic Nail Extensions - Which Is Better

Last updated on : September 02 2021

Gel v acrylic nail extensions

Nail Extensions

Going to get your nails done can be a wonderful experience. Still, you may be confused by the options available to you, especially the choice between gel or acrylic nail extensions.

Understanding the difference between these two methods of nail extensions can allow you to make a more informed decision when you next visit the salon.

Let's first understand why you might want to get nail extensions and then cover the pros and cons of gel and acrylic extensions afterward. 

Why Do People Get Nail Extensions?

There are many reasons why you might consider getting nail extensions.  

You may not have been blessed with the ability to grow, or maintain, your natural finger nails, but you can still get the length you want with extensions. 

Or, even though you can produce long nails, you may find they break or chip easily and so need to turn to extensions for help.  

Additionally, you want your whole outfit to look correctly put together. Having damaged or worn nails can detract from the image you want to convey to the world. 

Lastly, you want your hands and feet to look gorgeous, especially when trying to show competence in your field or out on a date. Giving your nails different treatments can complete your look and have you feeling confident flaunting them.

Although the results of using gel or acrylic may be pretty similar, there are some subtle differences.  

To make an informed decision, you need to consider the ingredients used in the extensions, how they are attached, and how they affect your actual nail underneath.

The Pros And Cons Of Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nail extensions


Acrylic extensions are created by mixing a liquid with a powder polymer, often smoothed over plastic nail tips.  

Acrylic nails are incredibly durable, easily able to withstand your usual daily tasks. They can also give your natural nails some protection from breaking or cracking.

However, acrylic nails may look a bit less natural than their gel counterparts.  

You may also need to make appointments for refills every week or two so that the gap between your cuticle and the acrylic does not become overly obvious, which can look tacky. 

A downside to acrylic nails is their removal. When the polymer powder and monomer liquid combine, they become solid, making the removal of these extensions complex, possibly leading to damage to both the nail and nail bed, including thinning of your natural nails over time.

If damage occurs, you will need to allow your nails to grow back their natural shape and repair their surface area before a new set is applied.  

Additionally, if you do not remove the extensions promptly, they may cause an imbalance of weight, leading to spots appearing under the nail, caused by the nail lifting from the nail bed. 

While you can purchase products that will help you soak off acrylic nail extensions, they can cause further damage, more than you might experience through professional removal at a salon.  

Due to these removal complications, you may find that you need to revisit the salon to have acrylic nails removed. 

The Pros And Cons Of Gel Nails 

Gel nail extensions

On the other hand, gel nail extensions are an option, but, as with acrylic nails, they also come with their own positive and negative aspects.

Gel extension tips are preshaped and entirely made with a gel material. They cover the entirety of the nail, which can help your nails be more durable and prevent bending. 

Gel extensions can also be easily applied and removed, causing less damage to your nails than the application and removal of acrylics.

Given the easy application and removal, you don't need to find as much time for the nail appointment itself, ideal for the busy, modern woman. 

When fitting gel extensions, you start with a gel polish, which is hardened under ultraviolet light, in a process known as 'curing.' 

Curing keeps the nails and polish intact, even after a few weeks. However, after a week or two, you may find that the gel starts to lift at the corners and even peel away - especially if your nails are exposed to cleaning chemicals, hot water, or even chlorine while swimming. 

Although this weakness means that your gel nails may start to look uneven, it also allows you to remove them easily yourself. 

You can achieve removal by soaking the nails in acetone and then wrapping each nail in aluminum foil. You will find that the extensions will now be much more malleable in as little as 10 to 15 minutes, allowing you to remove them yourself. 

Another benefit of gel nail extensions is that they can look incredibly natural. They are also more lightweight, which can make them feel a bit less foreign on your hands. 

Regarding safety, gel nails are better for your nails than those made with acrylic. However, because of this and the natural appearance of these types of nails, you may find them a bit more expensive. 

While the cost can be off-putting, it can be better to pay a bit more for the level of quality, especially if it means your nails will be better protected, and you won't need to deal with the odor that is commonly attached to acrylic nails.

Choosing An Artificial Nail Style

With the flexibility of gel or acrylic nail extensions, you may be able to pick a style that suits you and your lifestyle. 

If a professional and elegant look is required, you can keep the nails looking as natural as possible. Alternatively, you could opt for a range of colors, flairs, lengths, and filing patterns.  

Longer nails may be more difficult for you to get to grips with, especially if you have not had nail extensions before. 

When choosing how you want the nails to look, keep in mind that you will still need to conduct your usual daily tasks. For the woman with work, lots of driving, cleaning, and childcare, excessively long nails may not be possible. However, you can still have some length.

Depending on your technician's training, you may also have more art on your nail than simple color. Art can include patterns or even intricate designs.  

Tips Following Your Appointment

When you have spent time and money having your nails enhanced, you may want to look after them so that you don't need any interim appointments outside of those you already have planned.

Initially, you may want to be pretty gentle on your hands, at least for the first 24 to 48 hours following your treatment. 

You can help protect your nails further by using gloves to wash dishes or undertake gardening work. Avoiding heat from fires or hot water can also minimize the likelihood of damage to your nail extensions.

Moisturizing your hands, including your nails and cuticles, can assist in keeping the nail bed healthy, alongside massaging these areas with cuticle oil.

It can be a good idea to use a base coat if you opt to change the color of your extensions, as this can help protect the material underneath. 

When removing these colors, you must use a non-acetone remover. Otherwise, the remover may break down the material used in the extensions themselves.

You will also benefit from looking after your nails' condition through regular cleaning and tidying. This way, even when your natural nails are on show, they can still look great. 

Bonus Section - The Benefits Of Visiting A Nail Salon

Many people have attempted to shape and paint their nails at home, only to find that the polish chips or flakes away a lot sooner than when you have it done in the salon. 

Worse still, you may find that your hand is not steady enough to avoid getting the liquid on your skin. 

As a result, you may have more success with budgeting for and attending an appointment with a qualified gel and acrylic nail extension technician. Then you can also strengthen and improve the look of your nails with the appropriate nail extensions.  

And so, before you decide to make that appointment, you may first want to consider the pros and cons of the different types of nail extensions - gel or acrylic - as we discuss in this article.

Additionally, you can use online reviews and have a look at the salon itself to see which premises piques your interest the most, keeping hygiene and communication in mind. 


Painted fingernails

Even though your nails may seem like an insignificant part of your body, having strong, healthy nails will help you feel more confident with your appearance. 

And understanding the difference between gel and acrylic extensions will allow you to decide appropriately between the two when you attend your next nail appointment - after taking your existing nail condition, nail needs, and budget into consideration.

Lastly, a good nail routine will also go a long way towards improving and maintaining your natural nail condition.

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The Kewl Shop

The Kewl Shop is a blog. We write about all things lifestyle with a strong focus on relationships, self-love, beauty, fitness, and health. Important stuff that every modern woman or man needs to know.

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Editor: Charles Fitzgerald

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