Fake nails: are they a necessity or just tacky? Are they miracles of chemistry and a work of art, or just another way to damage your nails?

Gel and acrylic nails are both examples of false nail application. Acrylics are sturdier than having gels applied as the combination of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer creates a hard layer over your natural nails. Gel nails on the other hand harden as it cures under UV light and is applied in the same manner as normal polish i.e. with a base and topcoat too. Whilst gel polish adds extra strength and is harder than natural nails, they are not as robust as acrylic nails and are more flexible.

The main difference between the two is the length of your nail. Acrylics nail extensions become hard once exposed to air whereas gel polish is applied to the natural nail bed thus promoting natural growth. They are useful for individuals with short or bitten nails as they allow the nail to strengthen and grow below the layer of gel, however, they can also be applied to an artificial nail extension.

Gel polish is far more natural looking as it’s essentially the same as applying normal polish in its application (with the obvious addition of having it cured under UV light). This is contrasted with acrylic, which adds a much thicker polymer to your nail. Gel polish also may look nicer as it provides a shinier finish!

The removal of the fake nail is what actually contributes to the weakening of the nail! The reason why acrylic nails have the reputation of being bad for your nails is because damage occurs when the nails are over-filed, which is most likely to happen with acrylic as most technicians use a hand drill is used. This is contrasted with gel soak off which just requires a file to remove a layer or two of the gel polish, and acetone to soak off the rest.

So although acrylic and gel are both types of fake nails from the acrylic family of plastics, gel nails may be better for your nails purely based on the removal technique, which will obviously depend on your nail technician.