Acrylic Vs Gel Nails Vs Builder Gel: What’s the Difference?

Gel nails seem to be quickly overtaking acrylics, as lots of people turn to more natural treatments, but what is the difference? There are multiple reasons why more and more clients are asking for gel polish as opposed to acrylic nails, so let’s take a look at why this may be, and the pros and cons of both!

Acrylic Nails

We’re sure you’ve heard of acrylic nails, but most people are unaware of what they actually are. Acrylic nails are quite literally a mixture of powdered acrylic and a liquid monomer that is mixed together to form a smooth paste. This paste is applied to the natural nail and/or extension and dries in seconds. No curing is needed - they harden due to a reaction that starts to take place as soon as the liquid monomer comes into contact with the polymer that is in the acrylic powder. An extension is attached using nail glue, which is extremely strong meaning the nails are unlikely to break.

Lots of people believe that acrylic nails are inherently damaging, however, this isn’t strictly true. Whilst some people are cautious about having acrylates on their nail plates, and so close to their skin, the prime reason for acrylic nail damage is due to improper removal.

Gel Nails

Gel polish is a soft gel, and you may also know it as Gelish and Shellac. This type of product is cured under a UV or LED light and removed really easily using acetone. Gel nails are usually a natural nail treatment, as the product is not strong enough to be used with an extension. This is a great option for people who are happy with their natural nail appearance and length, and simply want a color or design overlay. Often Gel Polish is used on top of acrylic nails to get the desired look. 

Again, gel nail damage is possible when the product is peeled, bitten or picked. However, the damage is likely to be less severe than it is with acrylic, due to the strength of the acrylic, and the strength of the glue used to apply an extension. 

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Builder Gel and Rubber Base

Builder Gel is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, and a slightly newer product to the nail market. It is a hard gel and does what it says on the tin - build the natural nail up! The strength of this gel means you can extend the natural nail to a certain extent without needing to apply an extension. Some people believe that builder gel strengthens the nails, and whilst this isn’t completely true, it definitely improves the quality of the nail as the rigidity of the builder gel reduces the chance of nail breakage, which in turn promotes nail growth. Regular infills of builder gel can make for very long and strong natural nails! Again, a gel polish is usually used in conjunction with this, as builder gel only comes in a small variety of semi-translucent colors due to the molecular structure required to be penetrated by the UV/LED light. 

A very similar product to this is, and our London Lash alternative is Rubber Base - it works in the exact same way as builder gel. 

In terms of removal, this product is also removable with pure acetone but it takes a little bit longer than gel polish as it’s a thicker, stronger gel. If you have clients that peel off their builder gel nails, you will notice significant damage to layers of the natural nail, just as you would with acrylic nails.

What is the Best Nail Product?

We get asked this A LOT, as we see gel polish and rubber bases becoming more and more popular. Honestly, none of them are ‘better’ than one another. If applied and removed correctly, there will be no damage to the natural nail, so it really comes down to what your client wants.

If someone wants really long extended nails, then acrylic nails are their best bet. They’re also a good option for someone who uses their hands a lot in their daily life, as it’s a more durable option.

If someone prefers a more natural look and wants to improve the quality of their natural nails, then it’s better to suggest gel nails or rubber base/builder gel. Make sure your client knows the aftercare they should be following to get the most out of their set and the best chance at maintaining their nail health!

Check out our full range of gel polishes and accessories here to get some new additions to your gel nail kit! Always remember to tag @miss_dolla_nails in your nail sets for a chance to get reposted on our page!