Acrylic Vs. Gel Nail Extensions

Do you want natural looking tips or sturdier tips?

Photo: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Nail extensions give your natural nails the perfect rounded or square edge without constant care and effort. When you get to the nail salon ready for your extensions, however, you will have to choose between gel and acrylic. Though both provide you with that flawless look, each has its own pros and cons to consider.

Acrylic Extension Benefits

Acrylic nail extensions are strong. They rarely break during regular wear and tear throughout the day and the thick polymer and monomer acrylic that is applied to the nail protects nails against cracks and chips. Acrylics are versatile and can have rounded or square edges, airbrush designs and even jewels clipped to the edges. When it comes time to removing acrylics, you don’t have to visit the salon. Simply soak them in an acetone solution and they pop right off.

Acrylic Extension Considerations

Acrylics, though durable, have a tendency to lift up from your natural nail. When this happens, it opens the door to fungal infections. Acrylics are tough, but to be tough, they have to have a thick layer, which doesn’t give off a “natural” appearance. With acrylics, you can expect to visit the nail salon every 10 to 14 days for a backfill, which costs time and money. Acrylics have a natural opaque look to them, which is why they are often covered in polish or designs.

Gel Extension Benefits

You can typically apply gel nails and leave them natural and no one would know the difference. Gels are faster to apply than acrylics since they come premixed and are quickly put on with a brush. You might notice your gel nails feel a little lighter and less bulky. Unlike acrylics, gels won’t lift from the natural nail, reducing the risk of fungal infections.

Gel Extension Considerations

Gels will give you a more natural nail look, but they will also act like a natural nail by chipping, cracking and breaking more than acrylics. Since gels are still new to the market, some salons can't apply them, which means you might shop around for a while until you find one that can. Gels are similar to acrylics in that they require a backfill as the natural nail grows out every 10 to 14 days, which is an additional cost. Want to take your gels off? Unlike acrylics, gels require professional assistance and a little hard work to take off, which can include using special removers, acetone-soaked pads or filing the gel nail off the nail bed.

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