6 Gel Nail Options for Your Greatest Manicure

Love that shiny, sturdy end of a gel manicure, however hate the effort? I hear ya. Each time I get a gel manicure, I’m like, wow, my nails look superb. However two weeks later, I’m over it. I begin to choose at my nails till the gel polish comes off, one piece at a time.

Happily, gel polish doesn’t have a lock on that clean, chip-resistant end. Under is a debrief on eight common options to the gel manicure. Every overview contains the professionals and cons, nail well being penalties, and upkeep and prices.

6 gel manicure alternatives.
Supply: Envato.

1. Acrylic nails

Acrylic manicures use an acrylic powder and a liquid monomer so as to add a sturdy layer excessive of your pure nail. The substance is thick and arduous sufficient so as to add size and form to your pure nail. Common polish then goes on easily for a gel-like end.

The acrylic course of is usually carried out by a nail technician. You might purchase the tools and try to do it at house, however I don’t advocate it. Acrylic nails are very difficult to DIY. Plus, improper utility can result in painful damaged nails.

From my perspective, acrylic nails work greatest for girls who need an ideal end, need longer nails, and have the money and time for normal nail upkeep. It’s additionally helpful for those who don’t sort for a residing or play contact sports activities.

Professionals of acrylic nails

  • Acrylic nails are robust.
  • Polish goes on easily and dries to a pleasant shine.
  • The acrylic course of can prolong your nails and reshape them.

Cons of acrylic nails

  • Acrylic nails have to be stuffed each two weeks or so.
  • As nails develop out, the acrylic extension is extra vulnerable to breakage or separation out of your pure nail.
  • Acrylic nails don’t look pure. They’re thick and the bottom of the acrylic overlay stands out extra as your pure nails develop.
  • Acrylic nails aren’t sensible for energetic existence, except you retain them very brief.

Nail well being

I’ve had acrylic manicures a couple of instances in my life, so I can let you know: They’re tough in your pure nail. The difficulty is, you gained’t discover how dangerous your nails are till you cease getting acrylics. Your pure nails might be weak and brittle for a while after you have got the acrylic eliminated.

One other problem I confronted with acrylics is the potential for an infection. As soon as I by accident snagged the top of a nail on one thing, and it pulled my pure nail away from the nail mattress. That was tremendous painful. However then I needed to handle an an infection beneath my nail — which was gross.

Upkeep and value

Preliminary utility of acrylic nails can value $50 to $100, relying on the place you reside. The method can take about two hours.

After the primary utility, you’ll want “fills” or “infills” each two to a few weeks. You’ll spend $15-25 plus 45 minutes of your time on these. If any of your nails have come off, the fill course of will take longer and value extra.

2. Silk wrap nails

Silk wrap nails have been common again within the ’80s, earlier than acrylic nails turned the usual. The silk wrap course of includes making use of a chunk of silk or fiberglass to the nail with resin. The applying strengthens the nail and prevents breakage. Silk wrap therapies can prolong nails, too, however they’re not as thick or as robust as acrylics.

As with acrylic nails, you should purchase the supplies to do your individual silk wrap manicure — however you’ll get higher outcomes from an skilled nail tech.

Silk wrap nails are an excellent match for you for those who favor a natural-looking manicure that helps stop breakage. Additionally they last more after they’re saved considerably brief.

Professionals of silk wrap nails

  • Silk wrap nails look extra pure than acrylics.
  • The silk wrap remedy strengthens your pure nail.
  • You need to use silk wraps to restore nail cracks. Contemplate them a extra concerned different to the tea bag nail repair.
  • These are an excellent different for girls with chemical allergic reactions who can not tolerate acrylics or gels.

Cons of silk wrap nails

  • Silk wrap therapies aren’t a everlasting resolution. Hold them on persistently they usually might injury your pure nail.
  • This remedy may be tough to do your self.
  • Silk wrap nails aren’t as arduous as acrylics or gel manicures.
  • Silk wrap nails require fills each two weeks.
  • Your silk wraps might come off, particularly in case your nails are uncovered to quite a lot of water.

Nail well being

Silk nail wrap therapies are much less damaging than different therapies. Nonetheless, it’s vital to observe correct procedures for removing — soak your nails relatively than pulling them off, for instance. As properly, don’t maintain your silk wraps on completely. Give your nails a break from therapies often to allow them to breathe.

Upkeep and value

Silk wrap manicures are comparable in value to acrylics. You’ll possible pay $50 or $100 for the preliminary remedy. Fills might be $25 to $50, relying on the place you reside and if the fill-in is with powder or overwrap.

3. Dip powder manicure

Dip powder manicures use a base coat, adopted by a coloured acrylic powder. An activator resolution goes excessive to harden and seal the coloured powder. The dip manicure course of is comparatively fast and doesn’t require UV gentle.

You will get a dip manicure at a salon or put money into a DIY dip starter equipment for at-home use.

Dip powder nails are an excellent choice if you would like realistic-looking nails with a sturdy shade coat. The polish can final three to 4 weeks.

Professionals of dip powder nails

  • Dip manicures look extra pure than acrylic nails.
  • Dip powder polish is long-lasting.
  • You possibly can DIY your dip manicure.
  • No UV lights are required.

Cons of dip powder nails

  • Repeated dip manicures can weaken your pure nail.
  • There are hygiene issues while you’re getting the manicure carried out on the salon. True story: My daughter received nicked on her cuticle with a file and the technician dunked her bleeding finger into the bathtub of powder. Notice that the bathtub is sort of a bottle of polish; it will get reused for everybody. So…yuck.
  • The dips could embody irritating elements.

Nail well being

The most important threat to your nail well being with a dip manicure is the repeated submitting and lack of air provide to your pure nail. With repeated therapies, your nail can grow to be weak and brittle.

Upkeep and prices

Dip manicures are akin to gel manicures with respect to value and upkeep. Every remedy will most likely value you $50 to $75. Alternatively, you should purchase a DIY starter equipment for $15 to $35.

To take away dip powder polish, you need to soak your nails in polish remover and gently scrub away the colour.

4. Builder gel nails

Builder gels are light-weight, brush-on merchandise that mimic the look of gel manicures and dip nails, however are much less damaging. You would possibly see them known as BIAB, which stands for builder in a bottle. These merchandise typically require a base coat first and curing with a UV gentle. You need to use builder gels to increase and reshape nails, which is a bonus over customary gel manicures.

You may also purchase BIAB nail kits to make use of at house. Notice that lengthening your individual nails with a builder gel will possible be difficult. It’s far simpler to make use of builder gel to strengthen your pure nails with out including size.

Professionals of builder gels

  • Builder gel manicures, utilized correctly, are extra sturdy than gel manicures. Your nails might go the three-week mark with out chipping.
  • Builder gels can prolong or reshape your pure nail.
  • Builder gel nails are stronger and lighter vs. gel manicures.

Cons of builder gels

  • The gel will be an irritant to ladies with allergic reactions.
  • A UV gentle is required for curing.
  • Improper utility or removing of the builder gel can injury your nails.

Nail well being

The gel substance itself usually isn’t caustic to your pure nail. However like different manicure sorts, there’s threat of injury within the utility and removing processes. To take away builder gel, you need to reduce off any prolonged size and file down the thickness earlier than soaking your nails in an acetone nail polish remover.

Upkeep and prices

Builder gel manicures value $50 to $100, with fills carrying a lower cost tag. You may also purchase starter kits with UV lamps for about $20 to $30 on Amazon.

5. Press-on nails

Close-up view of woman wearing red press-on nails.
Supply: Envato.

Press-on nails are pre-polished, synthetic nails that connect over your pure nail with an adhesive. They’re available at Walmart and sweetness provide shops. Press-on nails are available kits with a wide range of sizes to suit all 10 of your fingers. You may also purchase press-on toenails.

I like press-on nails as a result of they’re cheap and low-commitment. I discover they’re vulnerable to popping off for those who use your palms loads, although. However for those who want a fast nail overhaul for an evening out or for a calming seaside weekend, these match the invoice for a low price ticket.


  • Press-on nails can be found in lots of shapes and nail artwork designs.
  • You possibly can file press-on nails to customise the look.
  • Press-on nails are simple to use.


  • Press-on nails aren’t as sturdy as different choices. They’ll snag on issues and pull proper off your nail.
  • Press-on nails could look much less real looking than different kinds of manicures.
  • If a press-on nail is free, it will probably encourage you to choose at it till it comes off. That may trigger injury to your nail beneath.

Nail well being

Press-on nails gained’t destroy the well being of your nails on their very own. You do threat nail injury for those who choose at leftover adhesive or yank the nails off with out soaking them first.

Upkeep and prices

Press-on nails are upkeep free. When you’re carried out with them, soak them in polish remover, take them off, and throw them away. If you wish to maintain your fairly nails, merely purchase one other equipment for $10 or much less.

6. Common manicure

Common nail polish utilized at house with a sturdy prime coat and base coat is a cost-effective different to a gel manicure. The draw back is that common polish tends to chip sooner than gel polish.

I’ve discovered an affordable center floor with the DIY gel-like polishes that don’t require UV curing. I’ve had good luck with Revlon Colorstay. For greatest outcomes, use the road’s base coat and prime coat and apply a number of shade coats.


  • Common nail polish is cheap and available.
  • Your choices embody mainstream manufacturers plus indie manufacturers that usually use vegan elements and fewer chemical substances.
  • Eradicating common nail polish is straightforward.
  • Most common nail polishes, used correctly, doesn’t trigger injury to the pure nail.


  • Cheaper polishes can chip simply.
  • Most traditional polishes have little strengthening energy.

Nail well being

A standard manicure involving a cuticle remedy can enhance the well being of your nails. As with different manicures, selecting at your nails or polish will be harmful to your nails. For extra data, see my submit: What manicure is greatest in your nail well being.

Upkeep and prices

You will get a fundamental salon manicure for $20 to $40. You may also spend that a lot on high-quality polish, base coat, and prime coat — plus an excellent bottle of nail polish remover.

Upkeep is minimal. Swipe away your shade coat when it begins to look haggard. And, maintain your nails filed to an affordable size to reduce breakage.

Branded gel nail merchandise

There are additionally a couple of branded merchandise that place themselves as gel manicure options. These embody:

  • Polygel is a model of builder gel made by Gelish.
  • Shellac is a branded gel system made by Artistic Nail Design (CND). Shellac doesn’t require you to buff away your pure nail earlier than utility, which is a plus.
  • Plexigel is a gel-based product made by OPI
  • IBX is a nail remedy that strengthens nails. It’s usually used beneath a gel manicure.
  • Bio Sculpture is a branded conventional gel system that guarantees higher nail well being.

Your greatest manicure

The perfect gel different for you is determined by what you need. If you happen to prioritize a end that lasts with out chipping, strive a dip manicure. Or, for those who favor to not decide to a sure form or shade, press-on nails are the reply. No matter nail technique you’re taking, observe the product’s directions for utility, care, and removing in order that your pure nails stay as wholesome as doable.


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