🤔🤔🤔Gel Extensions vs. Acrylic Tips: Which one is better?

Jul. 27, 2020
If you've ever longed for perfect long, beautiful nails, you've likely dabbled in the world of nail extensions. Women have been getting acrylic tips for years. Remember the French tips that were oh so popular in the early 2000s? While acrylic tips will always have a place in most nail salons, gel extensions are a newer nail-extension technique to hit the market. 
If you've ever marveled at Ariana Grande's gorgeous nails, they're gel nail extensions by the way!
What are gel extensions?
If you've never heard of them before, you're not alone! You're probably familiar with the 2-step acrylic process (involving liquid and powder) that uses the air to dry. Gel extensions use hard gel and are cured (dried) with a UV or LED light - just like a regular salon gel manicure. 
What's the difference between gel extensions and acrylic tips?
First, know that the two have a very similar final look; the big difference is how you apply them. Acrylics are typically done by mixing a powder (polymer) and a liquid (monomer) to create a malleable paste that can easily be molded into a nail's shape. One of the main differences is that acrylics require mixing as you go, compared to gel, but we'll get into that shortly. The strong smell is another difference. Gel nails don't produce that overpowering 'chemical-like' smell that acrylic nail application comes with. The gel is already mixed and needs to be cured with an LED or UV so the clients don't have to smell the polymer & monomer as the nail tech goes. Drying time is also different. Gel extensions need to be cured with an LED or UV light, while acrylic tips rely on the air to dry and set. 
Which one is cheaper?
On average, gel extensions are more expensive than acrylic tips. This could be because they're a bit more natural-looking and don't produce that undesirable scent. Or, maybe it's just because they're newer to the market. 
Which one lasts longer?
Hard gel, which is the most common type of gel used for extensions, offers plenty of flexibility to the nail extension. For most, when you think of durability and strength, a softer material doesn't seem like the better option. But when it comes to nails, flexibility is better. Hard gel is the toughest form of gel polish out there and creates a sturdy, long-lasting exterior.
Acrylic nails are made from an ultra-strong material that was actually created to repair teeth and bones! It really depends on your lifestyle and who applied your nail extensions, but both options should last you around 2-3 weeks. 
So, which lasts longer? On average acrylic nails do, but keep in mind they tend to look a bit less natural than gel extensions. 
Which one is better for your nails?
Ultimately, this is a question that your go-to nail tech will know, but there are a few general rules of thumb to go by. If your nails are hard and brittle, you need products that will create enough flexibility to avoid breakage - gel extensions will likely be the better option for you. If your nails are soft and splitting, you need more strength, and acrylic tips will probably be best. 
Keep in mind that sometimes gel nails can be prone to peeling, something that doesn't happen with acrylics, but they do less damage to your natural nails. Acrylic nails are also much more challenging to remove without damaging your nail bed. 
When it comes to the great debate over gel extensions versus acrylics, it's really all about personal preference. How much do you want to spend, what's the state of your natural nails, and do you want a more natural look or not? No matter which type you choose, a talented and experienced nail tech should achieve long, on-point, healthy, flawless nails. 
Most nail enhancements raise the question of safety. To maintain your natural nails' health, most experts recommend giving your nails a little time to breathe in between trips to the salon. 
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