fingernail painting

The Acrylic vs. Gel Debate

fingernail painting

Image Courtesy of Lwp Kommunikáció Flickr.

Here at Athena Salon, Spa & Wellness, we offer gel nails. While they’re relatively new here in the States, ladies in Europe have been receiving them for quite some time. Chances are you don’t know much about them, except that they look great. But don’t acrylic nails look just as great? The answer to that depends on your preferences. Some prefer the shiny gel nails, while others like the matte finish of the acrylics. So if you’re thinking of heading to the nail salon but aren’t sure which is best, here’s a handy guide which will help you decide, and show you why we think gel nails are the way to go.

A History of Artificial Nails

Artificial nails have been popular with women as far back as ancient Egypt. Back then, however, they used bone, gold, or ivory in place of acrylic or gel. Can you imagine that today? American women were the ones to make it highly popular and profitable, with numerous nail salons popping up all over the place to cater to women anxious to have nice nails.

At first, polymers and monomers were used to create the nails, which were adhered over the natural nail and then shaped to look just right. Today, the acrylics are made of plastic, and shaped into nails before they’re even placed over your natural nails. They can be purchased in a wide assortment of pigments, shapes, and sizes to suit just about anyone’s nails.

Then, gel nails made their way over here from Europe. They are more simple to apply – the technician will buff the surface of your nail to rough it up (just like with acrylic nails), a thin coat of primer is applied to your nails, a layer of gel is brushed on, and then the nails are placed under a UV or LED light to dry for a short period of time (typically one to three minutes.) More coats are applied, usually a few thin coats followed by more time under the lamp, and then they are filed and shaped.


While they are certainly less expensive than a gel nail manicure and are very strong, there are a few problems with acrylic nails. First of all, wearing acrylic nails for long stretches (some women have been known to wear acrylics religiously for decades!) can damage the natural nail underneath. They will become brittle, thin, and weak. What’s more, all of the filing required so close to the nail bed can lead to infection and fungus.

Although they look nice, people can tell that you’re wearing fake nails when you don acrylics. They are just bulkier than nails are supposed to be, and are even more obvious when you are due for a fill!

The smell is a bit much for some to handle, but what would you expect when applying the strong chemical over the acrylic nail? It is crucial nail salons be well-ventilated. Another problem with acrylic nails is the maintenance required – gel nails don’t require as many fills.

Probably the single most compelling reason to opt for gel nails – acrylics are very strong. So strong, in fact, they are more easily damaged. Since there is no flexibility, this leads to the artificial nail breaking or worse – tearing the natural nail underneath. Ouch!


Gel nails are odorless and non-toxic, which means that even pregnant women, typically discouraged from visiting the nail salon, can sit down and be treated to a manicure! Even better – these nails look more like the real thing. Some people won’t even be able to tell that they aren’t your natural nails.

They’re slimmer than acrylics, and are easier (and less painful!) to apply. When you can skip all of that filing near the nail bed when getting your nails done, why would you want to go back to acrylics? What’s more, they last longer in between fills.

Probably the number one reason for most women to choose gel nails is that they are much more flexible. That means they won’t damage as easily, and will better protect the nail underneath.

Even if you don’t have a job that requires you use your hands each and every day, everyone can appreciate nails that don’t break as easily! Even stay-at-home moms complain that acrylics break far too easily, whether changing bed sheets or wrangling toddlers. Now, more women than ever can justify treating themselves and making themselves feel beautiful!

Thinking About Getting Gel Nails?

Stop in to Athena Salon, Spa & Wellness today and ask about our manicures and gel nails. We’ll go over the entire process of gel nails one step at a time to make you feel more comfortable about it. We use only the best products in our manicures and polishes, like our Farm House Fresh products that are 88%-99.6% natural. They’re paraben and sulfate free, and some are even gluten free and vegan!

Have you always wanted to try gel nails? What has been holding you back?

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