What are Gel Acrylic Nails?

Jodee Redmond

Gel acrylic nails are a type of artificial nails. The give the wearer more flexibility in appearance than acrylic nails. Acrylic nails are the stronger choice and do last longer, but they are thicker and more artificial-looking. In addition, acrylic nails must be filled in every two or three weeks to stay looking their best.

A woman with gel acrylic nails.
A woman with gel acrylic nails.

In contrast, gel acrylics are lighter in appearance and more natural looking. They can be worn without colored nail polish and still look attractive. This style of artificial nail will last for a couple of weeks before needing to be filled in again.

Gel nails curing under a UV light.
Gel nails curing under a UV light.

Another advantage of choosing gel acrylic nails over acrylic nails is that the procedure is odorless. The smell associated with acrylic nails is considered very unpleasant by some people, and this may be enough of a reason for them to choose gel nails instead. Gels are a good choice for those who dislike the sensation of having their nails filed. This style of artificial nail may require little, if any, filing.

Gel acrylic nails are a type of artificial nails.
Gel acrylic nails are a type of artificial nails.

When you visit a nail professional to have gel acrylic nails applied, the manicurist will take a Mylar® form and use it to sculpt your nails. The form will then be placed under a UV light until it is set. This process means the nails may be more durable than acrylics. The gel may be placed directly onto your nail bed or used with a tip to lengthen your nails.

If you decide to add nail tips, they are applied over top of your natural nail, and then the gel is placed on top. You also have the option of having the gel applied directly on top of your natural nails. This can be a good choice when you are trying to grow your own nails. When you are ready to have the tips removed, you will need to consult a professional manicurist to have the procedure done.

To get the most flexibility in fashion looks out of your gel acrylic nails, you may want to stick with clear nails. That way, you can paint them in the style of a French manicure if you want to, or go with a solid nail color on different days. The simplest look would be to apply either a clear finish, or a light pink tone.

Gel acrylic nails should be applied to clean, neat nails.
Gel acrylic nails should be applied to clean, neat nails.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


What gel acrylic products are on the market? I am interested in purchasing some gel acrylic.


For all you manicure fans, remember to always ask your manicurist how to remove gel acrylic nails (or acrylic tips, for that matter) when you get them done.

They'll be able to tell you the best tips and tricks for getting the nails to come off without breaking off your own natural nails underneath, which is really easy to do after they've been weakened by the chemicals of the false nails.

Besides, they might even give you a free sample of acetone solution to take them off with -- you never know, so ask!


Nice article -- I've always wondered what's the difference between acrylic and gel nails, and now I know!

I've never got a manicure before, but I'm going to get one next month for my 18th, so I've been researching all the different options.

Before I read this I was thinking about getting acrylic tips, but I really don't like the whole filing my nails feeling (and besides, who has time for that?)

So now it's looking like it will be gel nails -- I want a more natural look anyway; I hate the look that some women have with their crazy thick fake nails.

Thanks for the insight!


Very nice article -- I've been debating the whole gel nails vs acrylic thing for a few weeks now, since I want to wear some nail art to my wedding, but I think that I'm finally going to go with gels.

I just really think that the flexibility will pay off, and since I want to get my nails airbrushed for the wedding, but not in a crazy way, I think that gel acrylics will be a good choice.

Besides, I really hate that acrylic nail smell -- I once got acrylic tips and I nearly passed out! That stuff is so strong -- I don't think I could ever do a full set.

Post your comments
Forgot password?