Lacquered vs. Gel Nails

"Lacquer" is just another word for nail polish.

Photo: Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

The perfect manicure method is as personal as the colors you choose. Lacquer and gel nails each have their pros and cons. Look at how you use your hands, how often they’re in water, who they touch, and what you want them to say to the world before choosing the method that’s right for you.

Nail Facts

Your nails grow about 1/8 inch every month. They’re mostly made of a hard protein called keratin, and – contrary to popular belief – they don’t breathe. Nail lacquers, gels and other nail coatings don’t suffocate your nails; any damage they cause is from the harsh chemicals they contain.

Lacquered Love

Lacquer is just another word for nail polish or nail varnish. It comes in clear of colors, with sparkles, glitter or holographic effects. It’s applied with a brush and lasts anywhere from a few days to two weeks, depending on the formula, how many coats you apply and how careful you are with your hands. Nail lacquer can be removed at home and changed as often as you change your outfit.

Genuine Gels

Gels come in several forms including soak-off and ultraviolet light cured. Soak-off gels can be applied in lots of different colors. Gel nail color lasts much longer than a lacquer manicure and you can remove it at home. Some UV gels can be soaked off, but most need to be filed off, which is best done at a salon.

Tips and Hints

Ask your nail tech which kind of gel she thinks is best for you. Manicuristas who change their nail color every other day would do better with lacquer that can be removed with non-drying acetone-free polish remover. UV gels are good for girls who like a look well enough to stay with it for two to three weeks. No matter which you choose, never pick at it to remove it because can damage your nails.

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