Gel nails and regular nail polish are two very different nail products. The purpose of both products is essentially the same: to decorate and enhance the appearance of natural nails. However, when you delve into the application process, durability, and other factors, there are significant differences between them.
5 basic differences between nail polish and gel nails
When comparing gel nails to regular nail polish in terms of effectiveness, application process, removal, and durability, there are 5 fundamental differences:
The curing process is significantly different when comparing gel nails to regular nail polish. Regular nail polish air-dries over time and can take up to 30 minutes or more to fully dry. Gel nails, on the other hand, require a UV/LED lamp to cure. Depending on the strength of the lamp, it takes only a few minutes to cure the gel, resulting in a more durable and resistant surface.
Gel nails are generally more durable than regular nail polish. This is because gel nails are built up in multiple layers, starting with a base coat, followed by the gel polish color, and finally a top coat. Gel nails can last for several weeks without chipping or losing their shine, whereas regular nail polish tends to chip and crack within a few days or weeks. Regular nail polish is also not as resistant and is prone to scratching.
- Drying time
Regular nail polish can take a long time to dry completely, whereas gel nails cure instantly under a UV/LED lamp. With gel nails, you don't have to worry about accidentally smudging or damaging your nail creations by touching things or applying multiple layers.
Regular nail polish can be easily removed with nail polish remover. Gel nails, however, require a different process for removal. The gel nail removal process is longer, and it's crucial to remove it carefully and patiently to avoid damaging your natural nails. When removing gel polish, it usually involves filing the top layer of the gel to break the seal, followed by soaking the gel in acetone to remove it completely. This can be a time-consuming process that requires care and attention. If you plan to remove your gel nails yourself, we recommend using a removal kit, which contains everything you need to remove gel polish from your nails. See our guide on how to remove gel nails.
- Flexibility and natural appearance
Regular nail polish is more flexible and provides a more natural feel on the nails, while gel nails can feel somewhat stiffer due to the cured gel material. Regular nail polish also allows nails to bend and move more freely, while gel nails are more resistant to breakage.
Read more: What is gel polish
Pros and cons of gel nails and regular nail polish
Both types have their advantages and disadvantages, and your choice between gel nails and regular nail polish depends on your preferences and needs. If you desire more durable and long-lasting nail results with less maintenance, gel nails may be a good choice. If you prefer a more flexible and easily removable result, regular nail polish might be the best option.
In the tables below, we have attempted to outline the advantages and disadvantages of gel nails vs. regular nail polish in an organized manner: