Acrylic or Gel Manicure? DIY Perfect Nails at Home
by Aprill Coleman and Caroline Harris
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Get a salon-quality manicure in the comfort of your own home. Creating your own nail design can be fun! All you need are some at-home professional nail essentials to pull it off. From sleek red nail designs to glittery nail art, every look is possible with the right DIY materials. After this mini mani guide, you’ll be able to achieve acrylic or gel nails that are the envy of every party.
But first, get to know the differences between acrylic nails and gel nails. Whether you’re the type that wouldn’t dare to show off her natural nails or simply want to try something new, we’re spilling the deets on these nail trends. Should you go with gel nails, or are acrylics more your thing? Here’s the 411 below.
What are Acrylic Nails?
Acrylics, the most popular artificial nail, are a combination of a liquid and powder that creates a hard, protective layer over the natural nail. A nail tip is applied to the nail, then a ball is created by dipping a brush into liquid monomer and placing the wet brush in powder polymer. This ball is placed on the nail bed and patted into place using liquid monomer. The finished product is cured, normally by air drying.
Pros and Cons of Acrylic Nails
Acrylics are very popular at the nail salon, but you can emulate this sleek style at home. Tansy Breshears, a licensed cosmetologist and nail artist, noted that the biggest benefit of acrylic nails is durability. “Acrylic is so, so strong. It lets you…manage whatever’s going on with less worry of cracks, breaks, and lifting because it’s so resilient.”
On the downside, acrylics can look unnatural if applied incorrectly. These nails are also very difficult to remove without damaging the nail bed, which means you have to refill every few weeks or suffer the growing out period of your damaged natural nails after removal. Some workplaces also don’t allow acrylic nails due to the hygiene hazard of long nails, which can trap dirt and debris. Acrylics also emit a very strong smell during the application process because of the chemicals involved. Make sure you have plenty of ventilation!
What are gel nails?
Gel nails are quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of artificial nail application. In order to achieve gel nails, a nail tip is first applied if the length of the nails needs to be extended. Then two to three layers of gel nail polish are applied with each layer being cured using a UV lamp. The nail is then filed and polished with the desired color or decorated with nail art.
Pros and Cons of Gel Nails
Gel nails have a more natural look with a glossy finish. Unlike acrylics, if the nails are primed correctly, there is no damage to the nail bed. Gel nails cure faster than acrylic nails since they are cured under UV light. Gel nails are also more flexible than acrylic nails. There is no odor, and gel nails can easily be removed with no damage to the nail bed by soaking in acetone.
Gel nails also have a downside. Because UV light is involved, there is a concern that this exposure to UV light could increase your risk of skin cancer. Breshears noted that gel is not as strong as acrylic, and gel nails are sometimes prone to peeling. “Neither of those materials can take the beating that acrylic enhancements can,” Breshears says.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which nail type is for you, based on your lifestyle, budget and personal taste. Since acrylic and gel nails both have their own set of benefits and weaknesses, giving each one a trial run might help you make your decision.
Check out these YouTube tutorials to give you some pointers and Instagram posts for inspiration. Then collect the products you need to DIY the perfect nails at home.
Acrylic Nails: Tutorial and Instagram Inspiration
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Gel Nails: Tutorial and Instagram Inspiration
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