Ladies who know about nails, help! Gel or acrylic?

posted 3 years ago in Beauty
Post # 2
6981 posts
Busy Beekeeper

Gel. I’ve never had them myself, but my friends’ acrylics look awful with nail growth (same thing happens as with gels) but also it gets painful if your nails get too long and you don’t have the time to go in for regular fills. Not to mention acrylics are generally much more damaging.

ETA: Also, I would say Shellac over gel (they are technically different, but often used interchangeably).

Post # 3
1918 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2012

Gel is way better for your nails and will last longer.  Acrylics are good for about two weeks and you have to get them done.  It will also ruin your nailbeds.

Post # 4
722 posts
Busy bee

I vote gel.

First off, acrylic looks fake.  Second, it damages the underlying nail.  Third, the water will definitely get between the acrylic and nail and ruin your nails over the course of a week or two.  Fourth, acrylic takes longer to get done. 

You probably need to refresh either every 2 weeks due to nail growth, I don’t think 1 if preferential to the other.  Maybe you could get a week 3 out of gel, maybe.

Post # 5
2108 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

I vote gel. If you do them just a couple days before the big day regrowth shouldn’t be an issue, acrylics are a lot of upkeep. They break, they crack, they need touchups every 2 weeks (as would gels if you upkeep them), and they destroy your nails underneath. Once you DO get the acrylics off it takes a long time for your nails to grow back healthy. Gels look more natural and not so bulky and are far less damaging. 

Post # 6
891 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

swonderful:  i work at a cosmetology school and this is one of the questions i get asked every day! i would definitely recommend gel. acrylic is going to be terrible for your actual nails, it shows growth super easily, and if it breaks or chips–which it probably will if you do a lot of cooking/working out/working with your hands–then it could take off some of your real nail with it which not only sucks because it damages your natural nail, but it hurts like a bitch.

gel color will last for quite some time, and will not damage your natural nails; plus, because it is polish and not a plastic tip adhered to your nail like with acrylic, it’s going to stretch a little bit and be slower to show growth. in addition, if it chips (unlikely, but if it did) it’s not going to do near the damage that acrylic would. you’d still want to get it fixed, but it won’t take off a chunk of your nail or anything.


go gel. the end. 🙂

Post # 7
725 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

Like a PP said, I would go with Shellac over acrylics and gel. Especially if your hands are wet a lot. You’re just asking for some sort of fungus to arrive. I know it’s gross, but it does happen.

Post # 8
3978 posts
Honey bee

Gel over acrylic, for sure. How are your natural nails? If they are strong and look decent, you might also want to look into shellac- its like a longer lasting polish on your natural nail, and it doesn’t chip.

Post # 9
384 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Either way, gel or acrylic is going to grow out at the same rate, so neither one is the clear winner if that’s the main thing you’re worried about. I’ve had both-acrylic in high school (it was all the rage 10 years ago) and gel/shellac now. I usually get my nails done every 2-3 weeks with either, and my nails grow very fast.

I would say gel/shellac would be the better option for your nail health. With acrylics, they have to grind down your nails so that the thick acrylic they add on top doesn’t sit high up on the nail and look even more fake than they already do. With gel, it’s not nearly as thick, and it mostly just looks like regular nail polish. The only way I can tell gel from regular polish is if it isn’t chipped much and it tends to stay really shiny longer.

The best thing I like about gel nails (besides the fact that I don’t have to deal with chipping) is that they prevent my regular nails from breaking as easily since they essentially add a little more strength to my regular nail. I’m able to keep my nails slightly longer than with regular polish because they don’t break as often. And when they do, it doesn’t hurt like a b*tch like with acrylics. I would never go back to acrylics. I thought I would get them for my wedding, but once I discovered gel nails, I was hooked.

Post # 10
113 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

I love gel! It doesn’t totally destroy my nails like acrylic does. 

Post # 11
3787 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

swonderful:  I’ve been getting my nails done faithfully every two weeks for 15 years. I have tried almost everything there is to try! Here’s everything I’ve tried:

Acrylic: This seems to be the most common version of “fake” nails. They will glue a nail tip onto your natural nail then cover it will acrylic. There is a lot of filing and buffing involved. You will need to get a fill every 2-4 weeks. This is where they will add a little more acrylic to the back of your nail near the cuticle to cover the new growth. You can also have a white nail tip glued on if you like a French manicure. Then you don’t have to worry about polish chipping. I’ve seen many salons with a wide variety of colored nail tips as well.

Crystal Gel: Also “fake” nails. This is applied in the same manner as acrylic nails but is shinier and can be applied thinner than acrylic. It tends to be more “flexible” but I find that acrylic holds up better for me.

Pink & White: Fake nails using pink acrylic at the nail bed and white acrylic as the free edge so you have a French manicure all the time without having to worry about polish chipping.

Gel/Shellac/etc. manicure or polish change: This is a gel-based nail polish that goes on either your natural nails or can be done on acrylic or crystal gel nails. Most salons have a huge variety of colors to choose from. You can either have a full manicure done (soaking your hands, shaping your nails, pushing back cuticles, and a hand/arm massage) or just a “polish change” which is the polish minus the manicure. All of the gel polishes (regardless of the brand) are typically applied the same way. You choose your color and it cures with either a UV or LED light and is dry instantly and stays very shiny. This should last 2-3 weeks without chipping, although you will see new growth as your nails grow out.


Edit: I am VERY hard on my hands. I work out 3-4 times a week and wash my hands probably 5-10 times a day. I have fairly long, pointy (yep, I’m one of those ladies!) acrylics right now and I haven’t broken any and they don’t get in my way.

  • This reply was modified 3 years ago by  MrsSMFC.
Post # 13
3787 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

swonderful:  Shellac is one brand of gel polish. Going to a nail salon and asking for a full set of gel nails will get you a full set of fake nails done with crystal gel. Asking for a Shellac manicure will get you any of the gel-based polishes that are cured with either a UV or LED light.

Post # 15
2855 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

I’ve had both.  I prefer gel.  It lasts about 2-3 weeks, depending on how fast your nails grow.

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