What’s the Difference Between Gel and Acrylic Nails?

What’s the Difference Between Gel and Acrylic Nails?
  • What’s the Difference Between Gel and Acrylic Nails?

    When it comes to a fresh manicure, we know that choosing the right system can be tough. Check out our guide below to help weigh your options and learn the difference between gel and acrylic nails so you can make the best choice before your next salon visit.

    1. What are Acrylic Nails?

      If you are someone who follows the latest trends when it comes to new nail shapes and prefer longer lengths, then acrylic nails are for you. Here’s the breakdown:

      How long does it last? Acrylic nails typically last between 2-3 weeks and can be ‘filled’ to help accommodate the growth of your natural nail.

      How is it applied? A long nail tip or nail form is applied to the natural nail using an adhesive slurry of mixed powder and liquid. Want to get a better idea of how your salon visit might go? Read the blog to see the step by step process of how to apply acrylic nails below.


      How is it removed? Acrylics are removed with a non-damaging soak-off technique. Learn more about how to remove acrylic nails below. Pro Tip: Because acrylics and acrylic-alternative dipping powders like Powder Perfection remove similarly, this removal method works for both!


      Who is meant for? Acrylics are perfect for those who are looking for added durability and length, as well as shapes that are hard to achieve with natural nails—like stiletto and coffin. The traditional acrylic look uses a pink and white powder combination to create a French tip, but there’s so much more to offer when it comes to this system! The color choices on top of an acrylic base are endless, and because no natural oils ever come in contact with the color application, nail art, and your favorite OPI shades are far less likely to chip.

      Want to try it? Ask your salon for Absolute Acrylic and read the blog below to get more information.


    2. What Are Gel Nails?

      If you are someone who wants color that lasts, gel polish is for you. Not only does it offer major shine, but there’s zero dry time too. Here’s the breakdown:

      How long does it last? Up to 3 weeks.

      How is it applied? Gel polish is applied in three separate parts: a gel base coat, your choice of GelColor, and a solvent-free top coat that makes nails extra durable. Nails are cured under an LED light for 30 seconds after each coat is applied. Bonus -- gel nail polish including GelColor can be applied on top of acrylics and natural nails alike! Pro Tip: Our new OPI GelColor Stay Strong Base Coat is the perfect solution for those with oily, thin, soft, damaged, peeling, or bendy nails.

      find out more

      Get an insider look into how your favorite nail tech will apply this professional system by reading the blog below.

      read the blog

      How is it removed? Removing gel nail polish is a simple soak-off for non-damaging results. For more information on how to safely remove your gel polish at home read the blog below.

      read the blog

      Who is meant for? Those who love creative effects, nail art, and self-expression with long-lasting and durable color.

      Want to try it? Ask your salon for OPI GelColor – available in 140+ iconic shades.

      browse now

    3. Ready to test these systems out yourself? Show us your nails using #OPIObsessed and #ColorIsTheAnswer and tag us in your nailfies @OPI on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our channels.

      Be sure to check out our other blog on Dip vs. Gel Nails, What’s the Difference?-- to get the lowdown on how the OPI Powder Perfection system compares to OPI GelColor.

      find out more

    Written by OPI -