Solar Nails Vs. Gel Nails

Artificial nails give your manicure a clean, sophisticated look.

Photo: Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Artificial nails add that last bit of care to your look. Once you find a great manicurist, your nails can become a signature part of your style. Solar acrylic or gel nails provide a perfect canvas for all sorts of creative expression, while showing you care about the details. Choose which nail formula works best for your lifestyle and enhance your manicure.

Solar Nails

Solar nails are artificial acrylic nails. One of the first brands available, it's a plain acrylic powder made of chemical compounds called monomers and polymers. Your manicurist brushes on the powder and waits for it to cure or dry. Acrylics are more affordable than gel nails and less prone to breakage. They soak off with pure acetone or nail-polish remover. Leaving acrylics to grow out without fill-ins for more than a couple weeks, however, can lead to fungal infections.

Gel Coat

Gel-coat nails are a blend of acrylic and gel. The acrylic nail is mixed from powder to form a resilient layer on the nail bed and then coated in a layer of gel. These are the nails to get if you like the glossier, less opaque look of gel, but need the strength of acrylics. Just beware that salons don't overcharge you for these. Acrylic is cheaper, so a gel-coat manicure shouldn't cost the same as a full-gel manicure. All gel manicures have to be removed by a pro to avoid nail damage.

UV Gel

Gel nails are either UV gel or lightless. UV gel nails are brushed onto the nail bed and cured under a UV light. These nails are high-gloss and look ultra-polished, but you'll pay more for them than any other kind of manicure. Check your cuticles before you put your hands under the UV light. If gel cures on your skin, you'll risk losing your nails, because the edges are lifted off the nail bed. Be careful with gel nails. They look beautiful, but they're extra-breakable. If you use your hands a lot, go for Solar or other acrylics instead.

Lightless

Some salons offer lightless gel manicures. The gel is brushed onto the nail bed and then your manicurist uses a spray to cure the gel. The process is a little quicker, although the use of additional chemicals may turn some women off. They can be painted and decorated just like UV gel nails, though. The difference between Solar and other acrylics and gels is obvious, but no one will know if your gels are UV or spray cured.

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