Gel vs. Acrylic Nails: Which Fake Nail Lasts Longer?

Have you ever wondered which nail style lasts longer between gel and acrylic nails? Acrylics offer long-lasting manicures with vibrant colors, while gel nails will give you natural-looking nails with minimal upkeep.

You need to understanding the difference between these artificial nail types to decide which option is best for you.

In this blog post, we will take an in-depth look at these two manicures. We’ll discuss the benefits and drawbacks of gel and acrylic nails and help you decide the strongest option.

Gel or Acrylic Nails Last Longer

Gel and acrylic nails are popular manicure treatments that add a bit of glamor to your look. Both offer durability and long-lasting results, but the materials and application process differ.

On average, gel nails will last up to 14 days at a minimum, while acrylic nails can last from one to two weeks with the right care and maintenance. Acrylic nails are more brittle and tend to chip and break more easily than gel nails. Gel nails, however, are flexible and not hard on the touch.

Gel nails are made of methacrylate compounds and photoinitiator compounds like benzoyl peroxide. When you get a gel manicure, the technician applies a thin layer of a gel base coat to your nails. 

This coat is then cured with a UV or LED light, aiding the gel to harden quickly and last longer than acrylic nails. While LED lamps are more effective and cures the gel polish faster, you can use other alternatives. Non-UV gel polish, a drying agent, or soaking your nails in ice water could work as well. 

Acrylic nails are created using a mixture of liquid monomer and powder polymer, often called “acrylic powder.” The powder is mixed with the liquid monomer and applied over the natural nail. 

Acrylics harden without light-curing, making them a convenient choice for manicures. However, they generally don’t last as long as gel nails.

In a nutshell, both of these manicures offer strength and durability. Long gel nails are, however, more flexible than acrylic nails that are proven solid. Moreover, you can do many tasks that need your hands with gel nails, but you can’t do the same when you have acrylic nails.

If you are basing your choice on strength and durability of these nail type, there is only a few differences. Acrylic nails will serve you well if you don’t want your nails to peel quickly. Gel nails will be your best option if you want natural-looking fake nails without dam

When comparing nail styles, strength and durability are important. But you also have to consider the cost, visual appeal, maintenance, and much more. In the next section, we’ll cover other important factors that will help you decide if gel or acrylic nails are best for you.

Overall Appearance

The most noticeable difference between gel and acrylic nails is how the nails look. Gel nails may look like regular polished nails, but they have a much more resilient finish.

The gel polish provides extra shine and strength for natural-looking nails lasting up to two weeks without chipping or fading. In addition, gel nails offer a wide variety of colors, designs, and embellishments used to create looks that are as subtle or dramatic as you desire. 

Gel nail polish also provides extra protection for your nails under the layers of color. This type of manicure is ideal for women with weak, brittle nails who want long-lasting wear.

When you get acrylic nails, expect something similar to natural nails with intricate shapes and longer. You can customize these nails with different colors, lengths, designs, and textures to create a unique look that makes you stand out from the crowd.


As briefly mentioned earlier, acrylic nails are a type of artificial nail that is made from liquid and powder. The process begins with filing and buffing the natural nail to shape and remove excess cuticle. 

A primer is then applied to help create an adhesive bond between the acrylic and natural nail. Next, a liquid acrylic mixture is poured into a tray and applied onto the natural nail using a special brush.

After applying the acrylic, you must place your nails under a UV light for several minutes. Once dry and cured, you can color it using a polish and seal it with a top coat. Finally, you can fix any necessary touch-ups and add decorations to create your desired look.

Gel nails are applied much like acrylics, with a few minor differences. You start by cutting, filing, shaping your natural nails, and removing excess cuticles.

Slowly apply a thin layer of gel polish and cure your nails under UV light. After the first layer of gel is set, you can add second, third or more layers if necessary and seal with a top coat. Finally, apply a top coat to protect the gel nail polish.

In summary, gel nails are easier to apply, cure faster, and have less of a chemical smell than acrylic during application. Acrylic sets faster but has a strong chemical smell. If you make a mistake during the application, you can easily wrap them in acetone and foil, making them easy to come off.

Dry and Cure Time

Acrylic nails require more time than other nail treatments due to the drying and curing requirements. You can expect your acrylics to dry between 10 to 30 minutes. 

After this initial drying period, a UV or LED lamp is used to cure them for an additional 20 to 60 minutes. Once the nails are cured, they can be buffed and polished for a finished look. Remember, the product used and your needs all affect this estimate.

On the other hand, when using a UV dryer to set your gel nail polish, the bottom coat will take approximately 60 – 90 seconds to dry. A topcoat requires an additional 60 – 90 seconds of drying time.

Gel nails typically dry faster than acrylics due to the curing process. The brand of product you use and the look you want to achieve will affect this timeframe.

Removal Process

Removing acrylic nails is a safe and simple process, but you should do it carefully to avoid damaging the natural nail. 

You can remove acrylic nails by soaking them in acetone-based nail polish remover for 10 minutes or until they soften. After that, use an orange stick or cuticle pusher to gently push away the softened acrylic. 

In most cases, the product will easily come off on its own. But you can use a nail file to scrape away any remaining acrylics if it’s still difficult to remove.

Unlike acrylics, gel nails are easier to remove as they don’t require harsh chemicals or tools. Instead, the nails are soaked in a special solution that breaks down the gel and makes it easy to remove with a manicure tool. 


The cost of acrylic nails will vary depending on the type of application, materials used, and the length and complexity of the design. 

Typically, a basic set of acrylics with no fancy features will range from $25 to $60. However, more intricate designs or special features may increase the price significantly. 

Additionally, some salons may offer discounts for students or seniors. Therefore check with the salon ahead of time to get an accurate estimate of the cost of acrylic nails. 

The starting price of gel nails is about $35, but it will also depend on where you live and the caliber of the salon you go to. Although the initial cost of gel nails may seem similar to acrylics, expect to pay the same fee every time you go for a refill. For this reason, gel nails tend to be more expensive than acrylics.

Effects on Nails and Risks

One thing you must take seriously when choosing a nail design is its risks and effects on your natural nails. When you try gel or acrylic nails, you may love the results.

Apart from enhancing your appearance, acrylic nails contain powerful chemicals that can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. Additionally, if not applied correctly or maintained properly, the product may begin to lift off the natural nail, causing irritation and pain.

Gel nails are a great way to add flair to your look without the risks associated with acrylic nails. However, while gel nails are a healthier alternative for the nail than acrylics, it is important to remember that some risks and side effects are still associated with gel nail application and use.

They can cause nails to become brittle, peel and crack. Additionally, when used frequently or over a long period of time, the risk for skin cancer and premature aging on hands dramatically increases.

In general, gel nails are gentler on the natural nail and nail bed, making it an ideal choice if you’re more concerned with preserving your nails. Moreover, they are more pliable than acrylic, so if you hit them against a hard object, they won’t snap off as easily.

Care and Maintenance

You have much more flexibility in caring for and maintaining gel nails than acrylics. Most people can easily go 3-4 weeks between fills. However, starting with bi-week intervals is ideal for gauging how your nails adapt. Then, if you feel comfortable with the progress (usually after a certain period), you can extend the interval to 3 or 4 weeks.

Acrylic nails are different because you’ll need to visit your salon more frequently. While they are exceptionally strong, they are also less flexible and glued to the nail, making them high maintenance.

With the right care, expect to fill your acrylic nails in about 2 or 3 weeks. If not, they’ll start to lift, chip or peel sooner than the 2-3 week mark. 


If you’ve got acrylic nails before, you may have struggled with them breaking or peeling. This is because they are tougher than other options, making them prone to breaking or peeling off if any stress is applied to them or if they are not well cared for.

Gel nails are typically stronger than acrylics because they are more pliable and flexible. This means they won’t snap off as easily if they come into contact with something hard or under force. Additionally, the curing process for gel nails requires less drying time, reducing the risk of damage and crack to the nail bed.

With nails done by a professional manicurist, you can reduce the risks of adverse side effects. We recommend contacting a nail technician for an appointment if you want to go this route. While you can DIY acrylic and gel nails at home, they are only sometimes successful. 


When applied correctly and not overfilled, acrylic nails generally do not give off an unpleasant odor. However, if the product is overfilled and allowed to cure too close to your cuticles or skin, you may notice a faint chemical odor that can be off-putting. The smell should go away shortly after the nails are finished.

If you opt for a gel manicure instead of acrylics, the smell is generally much less noticeable and should fade quickly after the curing process. 

If you feel irritated by the smell of these nail products, talk to your nail technician about the product they are using. They can always use other products that are safer and more pleasant.

Leave a Comment