If you’re like us, you love how acrylic nails look, but you hate that they leave your natural nails cracked and frail with prolonged use. Luckily for us, there are alternatives that still give that professional acrylic look but with less nail damage: gel and dip. But what are these two techniques, and which is the better manicure? Let’s discuss.
Much like regular nail polish, a gel manicure consists of color applied directly to your natural nail. There are no tips or powders involved as there are with acrylics. Your nail technician will start by removing any existing polish, then shaping and buffing the nails using a file.
The gel application begins with a clear base coat, then the gel polish is added on top. The number of layers varies depending on the color pigmentation, but the polish needs to be cured under a UV lamp after each coat. The manicure ends with a topcoat and one final time under the UV light.
Unlike regular polish, gel nails don’t dull or chip. They are also more durable, look natural like polish, and typically last anywhere from two to three weeks, depending on how fast your nails grow.
Gel polish must be removed by wrapping the nails in acetone. If you tend to pick at or peel your nail polish, gel may not be the best choice. It stays stuck to itself, coming off in thick chunks. This can damage your nails, so it’s best to leave the removal process to the professionals. And yes, a gel manicure cam make your nails thinner, but it doesn’t do as much damage as acrylics.
Dip nails look similar to acrylics but leave even less damage behind. Like gel, there are no artificial tips or glue involved (unless you request added length). Before application can begin, any existing polish will be removed, and the nails will be shaped and buffed.
After being covered in primer, your nail serves as a smooth canvas for the dip. A clear coat is applied over the primer before your nail is dipped into the powder color of your choice. Depending on the strength of the color, this may happen multiple times, with a clear coat added between each layer of powder. Once the topcoat is added, the powder cures and hardens under a UV light or in front of a fan.
Dip nails do not chip the way that traditional nail polish does, and holds up similarly to acrylics. A big plus to opting for dip nails is the duration of the manicure, which is typically shorter than that of gel options.
Dip and gel manicures are fabulous alternatives to acrylics and short-lived traditional nail polish. Compare these two against your nail criteria, and you might just find your new favorite nail spa treatment.