Gel vs Shellac Vs Acrylic: Which One You Should Choose?

I am sure I am not the only one who has been at some point confused about which type of long lasting manicure I should choose. Shellac vs acrylic is a pretty even match: both types of manicure are long lasting, and each have their own pros and cons. We’ll help you decide between gel vs acrylic nails by doing an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of both types of manicures.

Gel vs Shellac Vs Acrylic Which One To Choose
Pin Gel vs Shellac Vs Acrylic For Later!

What Are Shellac Nails?

Shellac nails are a type of gel manicure that needs to be cured under UV light. Unlike traditional gel, Shellac is mixed with nail varnish and can’t be used to extend your nails. However, it provides a very long lasting manicure and a huge variety of colors, which makes it very popular. This type of gel manicure was created by CND (Creative Nail Design) and is a trademark.

What Are Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic is a transparent mixture of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer, hardened by exposure to air instead of UV lights. It creates very hard and thick nails that can be very long and decorated with nail polish afterwards. 

Shellac vs Acrylic vs Gel: When To Choose Shellac

Shellac nails are best when you are looking for a natural, glossy finish that feels light on the nails. Shellac works best if your nails are in good condition, as it applies as a thin layer of color and a protective cured top coat. It’s a hybrid between gel and regular nail varnish, and it has a similar feel to nail polish but with a much more lasting finish. 

If you are going on a holiday and aren’t used to long lasting manicures, Shellac is a great alternative to regular nail polish and you won’t really notice a difference. Well, apart from the fact that they won’t chip in the middle of your holiday!

Regarding how to remove shellac nails, the good news is that the process won’t harm your nails and it’s pretty user friendly. You can remove Shellac nail polish at home using an acetone soak, or let the salon do it for you. Since Shellac is built on a thinner layer than other methods, you won’t need to file and scrape your nails to get rid of it.

If you want a manicure that:

  • Will last a couple of weeks
  • Looks natural
  • Won’t chip, no matter how many times you wash your hands every day
  • Is kind of the nails at the time of removal

Choose Shellac vs Acrylic or Gel.

Gel vs Shellac: Benefits Of Gel Manicures

Gel manicure is a classic, and the first professional long lasting manicure before acrylic and shellac appeared. This kind of nail polish cures under a UV lamp, same as Shellac, and you can get it done at a salon or have a gel manicure at home.

If you have weak nails that tend to break, gel will provide a thick, protective layer that will stop your nails from bending or snapping. This means they can feel thicker on the nails, and that can be uncomfortable until you get used to it. However, many people like the look of slightly thicker, glossy nails even if it looks less natural than say, Shellac. However, they can also be built thinner if you prefer less of a chunky nail.

Gel manicures last a long time: You usually can get about 2 weeks before your natural nail starts showing at the cuticle, with a glossy sheen and no chips. A holiday climbing mountains? Your manicure will survive that. There is a reason why gel nails are a favourite amongst waiters and kitchen staff, they survive anything.

If you want a manicure that:

  • Lasts a long time (easily 2 weeks, more with some maintenance)
  • Can be used for nail art and mixed with acrylics
  • Will support your nails and stop them from bending and snapping
  • Allows the nails to remain flexible
  • Is cured with UV, so instantly dries as soon as you’re done curing them with the lamp
  • Doesn’t have a chemical smell during application

Give a chance to Gel vs Shellac or acrylic nails. Keep in mind that some types of hard gel needs to be filed off, so it’s better to get them removed by a qualified technician and not try to remove gel nails at home. Improper removal can damage the nail bed and be quite painful.

Gel vs Acrylic: When To Choose Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are a type of fake nail that uses an air drying liquid monomer and a powder polymer to build a fake nail attached to your natural nail. They are really hard and will protect your nails from breaking. Acrylic cures as it contacts air, so the technician needs to work fast. This doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself an acrylic manicure at home, but it does require some practice.

Dip powder nails or SNS nails also use acrylic, but instead of mixing the powder to create a paste you use an activator to stick the powder straight on your nails. They are often used for color on acrylic nails, to provide a very long lasting manicure.

If you want a manicure that:

  • Lasts a long time and can be refilled to last longer. 3 weeks before any refills!
  • Is any length you want, even if you bite your nails or have very short nails
  • Can be used for nail art and mixed with gel
  • Is versatile: any sort of shapes and lengths can be achieved with proper training
  • Is cheaper than gel in most cases
  • Can be fixed at home if they break
  • Doesn’t expose your fingers to UV lights
  • Can be removed by soaking off in acetone (even at home)
  • Can be used with regular or gel polish for color.

When deciding between gel vs acrylic, give acrylic a try.

As you can see, choosing between gel vs shellac vs acrylic depends a lot on what your personal goals and preferences are. As a quick rule of thumb:

  • shellac is the most natural looking
  • gel is odour free and quick
  • acrylic is more time consuming and smells of chemicals during application, but it’s cheaper and longer lasting

If you are interested in nail art, a combination of acrylic and gel is also very popular. Acrylic allows you to build to the shape and length you desire, and gel is used for a long lasting color coat. If you still aren’t sure, it’s worth talking with a professional nail technician that can evaluate the health of your nails and advice on the best type of manicure for you.