Difference Between Acrylic Nails and Polygel

The nail care industry has revolutionized. The manicure techniques have become diverse with the availability of a wide range of options. Every design or concept can be brought down on nails with intricate detailing. The two common techniques of nail care are acrylic nails and polygel.

Acrylic Nails vs Polygel

The main difference between acrylic nails and polygel is that acrylic nails are nail extensions while polygel is like nail polish. Acrylic nails require adhesive to be pasted over the natural nail while polygel requires UV light to be cured.

Acrylic Nalis vs Polygel

Acrylic nails are available in paste form. The paste is made by mixing liquid monomer and powder monomer. The paste is then applied over the nails and can be sculpted into a desired customizable shape and size. The acrylic nails provide a smooth surface for the application of nail art.

On the other hand, polygel is available in gel form. The gel is made by mixing acrylic powder. After application of the paste, it is cured under UV light. The gel serves as a base layer and is followed by two other layers called polish and top layer. It is lightweight, easier to apply and remove, and is the new trend.

Comparison Table Between Acrylic Nails and Polygel

Parameters of ComparisonAcrylic NailsPolygel
Definition Nail extensions in a paste form of powder monomer and liquid monomer applied over natural nails and given desired shape A gel product which is a mixture of acrylic powder and is applied as a base layer, followed by a polish and a top layer
Time of origin It is a traditional technique It is a new modern technique
VariantsThey can be done in any print, design, or color They are available only in six colors – soft pink, cover pink, dark pink, natural clear, and bright white
AdvantagesLong-lasting, resistant to damage, and can be customized to different shapes, sizes, and designs Strong and flexible, negligible amount of fragrance, looks natural, lightweight on the nails, harmless, and easy to remove
DisadvantagesCan damage the coating of the natural nail, strong fragrance, do not look natural, and have to be soaked in acetone for removal which can be harmful Expensive than most of the other manicure treatments, and can cause heat spikes if it is not appropriately applied

What is Acrylic Nails?

Acrylic nails are the nail extensions placed over natural fingernails. They simulate the appearance of real nails. Acrylic nails are made using acrylic glass. The active ingredient in the manufacture of acrylic nails is PMMA (Poly(methyl methacrylate)). It is a type of polymer.

The process of manufacture of acrylic nails is by mixing a liquid monomer with some inhibitor, typically ethyl methacrylate is used. The mixing process forms a bead that is malleable. The mixture has a quick solidifying property and can completely form a solid in few minutes.

The designs on acrylic nails are trendy and aesthetic. The color of acrylic nails is brought by using dip powder. Acrylic nails are easy to maintain and can be filed easily into numerous shapes and sizes. The minimum staying power of acrylic nails is around 20-21 days. They can be lost longer if proper care and touch-up are given.

The major drawback of acrylic nails is that they can damage natural nails in the long run. The removal process of acrylic nails is quite time-consuming. The nails have to be soaked in acetone for easy removal. Acetone can make natural nails brittle and dry. The adhesive used for the extension can harm the coating of the natural nail.

What is Polygel?

Polygels are a new fashion in the manicure industry. It is a hybrid combination between acrylic nails and gel. It looks like normal nail polish or paint but is cured under UV light. It can be applied over natural nails or other nail extensions. The liquid in polygel is called slip and has no active ingredients.

Polygels feel lightweight on the nails. It feels like any other nail paint and is loved by customers who prefer minimalism. It does not have any strong fragrance and is great for people who are allergic or cannot withstand a strong smell. Polygels provide the best of both worlds, the liquid or powder acrylics and the LED hard gels.

Polygels are easy to apply and remove. Simply buffing off would remove all the gels. It is lighter than most of the other manicure types but stays on the nails equally longer. It is free from monomers and does not collect any airborne dust during the process of application. Polygel was developed by a manicure product specialist Gelish.

Polygels can be cured in two ways, through an LED lamp for thirty seconds or through a UV lamp for two minutes. Before the application of a polygel, the nails should be prepped properly so that the gel does not get lifted and the longevity is improved.

Main Differences Between Acrylic Nails and Polygel

  1. Acrylic nails involve nail extensions over natural nails while polygel are like normal nail paint that can be applied over nail extensions or natural nails and later kept under UV light.
  2. Acrylic nails feel heavy while polygel feels light over the nails.
  3. Acrylic nails have a strong fragrance while polygel has a lighter smell.
  4. Acrylic nails have to be soaked in acetone for removal while polygel can be just buffed off.
  5. Acrylic nails are a cost-effective nail care treatment while polygel is an expensive treatment.


Both the nail care techniques have distinct differences and their method of application and removal of also different. Acrylic nails have been in the manicure industry for a long time while polygel is a new technique, but has gained popularity by its advantages.

Most of the chemicals and adhesives can damage natural nails in the long run. It is essential to take care of the nails and prepare them properly before going for any kind of manicure. Also, removal of any manicure should be done gently with care, and not buffed roughly as it can damage the nails.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=lang_en&id=BHjEDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA81&dq=acrylic+nails+and+polygel&ots=2n0kPnPBBE&sig=XheQhMQOXCxSMuEbgeG_d-1sSzo
  2. http://www.mpausa.org/storage/pdfs/Methacrylates%20Use%20in%20Nail%20Enhancements%206-3-20.pdf
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