UV Gel Vs. Powder-Gel Nails

UV gel and traditional acrylic nails can give you long nails instantly.

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Long nails look beautiful and are always in style. They're difficult to grow, however, when your busy life offers so many ways to break them. If you’re considering artificial nails, the two most common options are UV gel nails and acrylic powder. Technically, both options are types of acrylic, but they do have differences.


Gel and traditional acrylic nails each have a slightly different application procedure. When applying traditional acrylics, nail technicians must mix together a liquid and a powder to form the acrylic. To do this, a brush is dipped into the liquid and then into the powder, where it forms a small, soft bead. This bead is then brushed onto the nail. Gel nails are types of acrylic, but the gel is a complete system that can be brushed on without fear that the proper liquid-to-powder ratio is not being met. Gel is not foolproof, however, and nail technicians need to have proper training before working with either application system.


Once applied, acrylic nails must be allowed to cure, or harden. Gel acrylics must be placed underneath ultraviolet light to cure. Unfortunately, the chemical reaction that occurs when the light hits the gel can create heat, so your fingertips may get a bit warm when you place them under the curing light. Acrylic nails also rely on a type of chemical reaction to set and harden, but this reaction requires nothing more than air and time. Traditional acrylic nails will harden on their own in three to five minutes.


If you like a shiny finish on your nails, you will have to spend a bit more time on traditional acrylics than on gels. Gel nails will cure to a shiny finish on their own with no help from you. Traditional acrylic, however, is very dull and cloudy after it cures. You can make your traditional acrylics shiny as well, but you will need to file them several times with progressively finer nail files to make them shine. A high-gloss nail polish can also do the trick if you aren’t concerned about having a natural nail color.


To remove traditional acrylic nails, you must soak them in an acetone-based nail polish remover. As the acrylic softens, use an orange-wood stick to push the softened acrylic off the nail. Repeat this process until you remove all the acrylic. To remove gel nails at home, you have to know what type of gel was used. Some gels can be soaked off after you buff off the protective top coat. Others must be completely buffed off and will not dissolve in acetone at all. The easiest and safest way to get rid of gel nails is to go back to the salon and have them professionally removed.

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