Difference Between Acrylic and Hard Gel

Nail art is an innovative way to express, embellish and refine the nails’ structure and appearance. Women undergo several procedures to enhance their nails by trimming, filing, and polishing.


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Acrylic and Hard Gel nails are two discreet nail artworks adorned during manicures. They have been in trends for decades.

The earliest origin dates back to 5000-3000 BC. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Acrylic nails combine liquid monomer and powder polymer, while hard gel nails use a premixed gel.
  2. Acrylic nails have a stronger odor due to the chemicals involved, whereas hard gel nails have a milder smell.
  3. Hard gel nails are more flexible and lightweight than acrylic nails, which can be prone to chipping or breaking.

Acrylic vs Hard Gel 

The difference between Acrylic and Hard Gel is the difference in the materials involved in the products. Acrylic nails are developed with an amalgamation between liquid and powder monomer, mixed with minute dough to form nails. On the other hand, Hard gels are made with oligomers and acrylic monomers bonded under UV light. 

Acrylic vs Hard Gel

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Acrylic nails are some of the most popular nail art choices available in the market. They are a perfect combination of powder and liquid combined into a single polish applied to a nail.

They require finesse and expertise to master. It requires experience to receive professional results with precision and vibrancy. 

Hard Gel nails are the type of nail art applied to the nail directly and do not require a definite proportion of composition. They are similar to acrylic nails in composition.

They are easy to apply, stay in the workable consistency enhancing the chances of working properly with the medium. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAcrylic Nails Hard Gel 
Strength Acrylic nails are stronger and more rigid than hard gel nails.Hard Gel nails are hard but may not overpower the strength acrylic nails offers. 
Natural LookAcrylic nails provide an elegant look that may not look natural.Hard Gel offers a natural look to the nails. 
Application Acrylic nails are applied to natural nails or extensions.Gel nails are preferably applied to natural nails for a smooth finish.
Drying Time They dry faster as they keep on drying while it is applied.Gel nails require a few strict munites to dry under the UV lights. 
Durability The acrylic nails should be retouched after 1-2 weeks.Gel nails require fewer touchups and can sustain 2-3 weeks without touchups.

What are Acrylic nails?

Acrylic nails have always been known to stay trendy and in fad due to the constant exposure from celebrities, influencers, and other eminent personalities.

The polymers of acrylic nails are chained together and applied. It is adorned on the nail and later hardened in place as per the desired length, thickness, and strength. 

It may seem that acrylic nails harm your nails but the truth is that there is no recognized harm by the acrylic nail.

It is like any other artificial nail products range and with correct steps and direction, it will assure no permanent damage to the nails.

Acrylic nails are available in unimaginable colors, designs, patterns, and fits. The choices can be amended as per the choices and imaginations of the wearer.

It is advisable to get acrylic nails removed professionally. Always make sure to give your nails a three to six months gap to revive the structural integrity of the nails. 

 The steps of acrylic nails involve the nails being shaped, cleaned, and filed cautiously. Then a base coat is applied to encourage the polish to stick to the nail.

A polish color is applied to the nail. It is secured with a top coat and dried.  

What is Hard Gel?

Hard Gel Nails are a trendy nail art category that provides a pleasant experience to people due to their distinctive features. It is a great option for people sensitive to acrylic nails and new to this experience.

It is a pre-mixed formula with a definite consistent ratio. It offers people a reliable and credible source.

The surface is non-porous, rigid, and capable of retaining the color well on the surface. 

Gel nails are available in a variety of colors, designs, patterns that are unique to the wearer and ideal for a glossy or a matte finish. Hard gel is preferred to offer structure and firmness to the nails. 

The primary advantage of hard gel nail is, it stays for a long time and is harder than soft gels. It protects the nail well and avoids any breaking and bending. 

The Hard Gel can be applied with a few simple steps. A base coat is added to sticking.

Then a paint coat is added as a polish. A topcoat is added to seal the coating under UV lights.

The only drawback is that the person may feel the heat on the nail surface when it is kept under UV Light radiations. 

Main Differences Between Acrylic Nails and Hard Gel 

  1. Acrylic nails are likely to have a strong odor and produce a smell during application. Hard Gel nails are odorless throughout the application.
  2. Acrylic nails are hard-wearing and may not provide any flexibility to the nails. On the other hand, Hard Gel nails are flexible and can sustain some pressure.
  3. Acrylic nails only cause damage when handled incorrectly and removed unprofessionally. Hard Gel nails are less risk-prone but may cause serious damage with wrong or overuse of the base coat.
  4. Acrylic nails are required to be soaked in acetone during removal. Hard Gel nails need to be filed off to remove them as it does not dissolve in water.
  5. Acrylic nails are less beginner-friendly and require constant care. Hard Gel nails are beginner-friendly and provide room for improvement. 
Difference Between Acrylic and Hard Gel
  1. https://www.radtech.org/proceedings/2018/Applications/Pavlovic-Liz_UV-Nail-Gel.pdf
  2. https://search.informit.org/doi/pdf/10.3316/informit.969951672374229
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