Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: What’s the Difference?

Acrylic and Gel nails increase the aesthetic of your natural nails. In this article, you’ll learn about the difference between acrylic and gel nails so that you can easily determine which option is the right fit for your needs and preference.

Acrylic nails tend to be dramatic and creative, while gel nails are more natural-looking. These two manicures also differ in terms of how attached and removed. They are also made with different materials that give them their unique features.

Main Difference Between Gel and Acrylic Nails

Main Difference Between Gel and Acrylic Nails

The main difference between gel and acrylic nails is their appearance. Acrylic nails are usually more over the top. Since they are sturdy, it’s easy to add sparkles and other accessories that will make your nails look fun and unique. On the other hand, gel polish is more natural-looking. It has a glossy appearance that resembles healthy nails.

These are the difference between acrylic and gel nails:

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Application

Acrylic vs Gel Nails Application

Applying acrylic nails starts with the nail technician mixing the acrylic nail liquid and powder. They carefully mix these two ingredients until the right consistency is achieved and apply it to your entire nail. The product will eventually harden as it’s exposed to the air.

In some cases, nail technicians will only apply the acrylic nails to the tip nail and sculpt it to make your nail look long and natural.

Gel nail polish is applied like a typical manicure. It is then cured using UV light, and it will eventually harden.

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Pros & Cons

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails Pros and Cons

Acrylic and gel nails have their own fair share of advantages and disadvantages. These are the pros and cons of acrylic and gel nails:

Acrylic Nails: Pros & Cons


  • Long-lasting
  • Sturdy
  • Affordable


  • Difficult to safely remove
  • Looks unnatural

Gel Nails: Pros & Cons


  • Easy to apply
  • Natural look
  • Long-lasting


  • Requires effort to remove
  • Does not last as long as acrylic nails

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Cost

Acrylic vs Gel Nails Cost

The average cost of acrylic nails is between $10 to $30. The price gets higher, especially when you choose a more complicated design.

Gel nail manicures are more expensive. They cost between $25 to $60. The price could also go up if you want a more intricate design. The price for both services can also become more expensive if you go to high-end nail salons.

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Safety & Health

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails Safety and Health:which is healthier and safer

Acrylic and gel nails are safe, and they won’t damage your nails as long as they are healthy, to begin with. However, it’s highly discouraged to get acrylic or gel manicures frequently. Make sure there’s a least 2-3 weeks interval in your session to prevent your nails from becoming brittle.

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Removal

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails Removal: which is easier to remove

Acrylic nails can be removed by soaking your hands with nail polish remover for 15 minutes. After that, your nail technician will pry the acrylic nails away from your natural nail. Gel nails can also be removed with the same process, except they tend to loosen more when soaked with nail polish remover.

Gel nails are easier to remove. You just soak it with a gel-removing solution, and it will release itself from the nail. Although there could still be damage to your nail plate when you scrape off the residual gel, it’s not as much as what you’d get from acrylic nails since they are tougher to remove.

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: How Long Do They Last?

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: How Long Do They Last

Acrylic nails can last between 6 to 8 weeks. Meanwhile, gel nails can only last for 2 to 3 weeks.

The one that lasts longer is acrylic nails. However, even if it does last longer, it does not mean that it will still look as good as it was when you had it done in the nail salon. The new nail growth will be visible, so if you don’t like that, you’ll need to go for another acrylic nail appointment at the 3 to 5-week mark to maintain its beauty.

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Which One is Less Damaging to Your Real Nails?

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Which One is Less Damaging to Your Real Nails

Gel nails are more flexible and softer, making them less damaging to your nails compared to acrylic. However, you can mitigate the damage these nails do to real nails by properly caring for them.

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Quick Comparison Chart


Acrylic Nails:

Gel Nails:

What is it?

Nail Enhancement

Nail Enhancement


Mix powder and liquid then apply to the entire nail.

Applied like a regular manicure

Average Cost:

$10 to $30

$25 to $60

How Long Do They Last?

4-6 weeks

2-3 weeks


Soak in nail polish remover

Soak in nail polish remover

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Which is Better?

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: Which is Better

Acrylic nails are better for those who are looking for sturdy manicures that are creative and eye-catching. Meanwhile, gel nails are better if you prefer a simple and natural-looking manicure.

Final Verdict: Acrylic vs. Gel Nails

Acrylic vs. Gel Nails: how to choose

Acrylic and gel nails are excellent nail enhancement options, but they do have several differences. These include how they are applied, durability, price, and aesthetics.

Which one do you prefer: acrylic or gel nails? Let us know the answer in the comment section!

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