Acrylic or gel nails: how they differ and which one to choose

Manicure is one of the beauty trends that has grown the most in recent years.

Acrylic or gel nails: how they differ and which one to choose

Manicure is one of the beauty trends that has grown the most in recent years. Partly because of many celebrities, such as Rosalía, Rihanna, the Kardashian sisters or Blanca Suárez, who have made them their hallmark. Beyond wearing enamel or a trendy design, acrylic or gel nails are increasingly in demand. These are extensions that are placed on the natural nail, with two main objectives: to lengthen and harden them.

Although manicures also look good on short nails, long nails allow for a wide universe of designs and decorations. And resorting to false nails is becoming more and more common. Both acrylic and gel nails are built on the natural nail, so, as explained by Nacho Jové, director of Nails

Andrea Micu, owner of Miss Best Nails, a Treatwell-owned salon, comments that “acrylic nails use a mixture of two products, the monomer (liquid) and the polymer (powder) which, when bonded together and dry, they create a hard structure.” The expert points out that it is very important “to prepare the natural nail so that the mixture adheres completely and does not come off. Different pearls are then created and placed on top of the natural nail, giving it the shape and length that the client wishes. They are then air dried and filed to perfect shape and thickness. Finally, they are enameled.

In the case of gel nails (which is not the same as gel manicure) the process is similar, but in this case a gel is used. «After preparing the natural nail, the gel is applied with circular movements to avoid bubbles that could damage the construction once it dries. They are then placed under LED or UV lamps (60 or 120 seconds respectively) and once dry, they are filed and the shape is perfected. Finally, it is enameled”, says Andrea Micu.

Actually, both types of manicures meet the same objective: to achieve longer and harder nails, therefore, more resistant. In addition to the difference in materials, Nacho Jové points out that "in general, acrylic nails are usually a little more resistant than gel nails, so they are recommended for those who need extra protection against bumps or the wear". Although acrylic nails are more durable, they look more artificial. It is another of the differences with respect to gel nails according to Andrea Micu "gel nails are more similar to natural nails, but they last less than acrylic ones".

The most striking manicures with appliqués and decorative elements are much more beautiful on long nails. But there is always the question of whether this type of extensions damage the natural nail. Andrea Micu explains that «nails are dead cells, and, therefore, they do not 'breathe', it is a hoax that nails suffer from a good sculpted nail service. The serious thing and the reason for the problems is that the professional is not perfectly qualified and damages the natural nail when preparing it for the artificial processes».

According to the owner of Miss Best Nails, neither acrylic nor gel nails weaken the natural nail if done properly. The problem can come when choosing a center that is not approved, that does not use good materials or even trying to remove nail extensions at home with domestic methods.

The director of Nails

To care for nail extensions, Andrea Micu advises “avoid putting pressure on them, not ripping them off and not biting them. Dry them properly as moisture can cause them to crack and lift, apply cuticle oil with a light massage, use moisturizing cream and refill as needed."