Home Articles Beauty Dip vs Gel vs Acrylic Nails – Pros and Cons

Dip vs Gel vs Acrylic Nails – Pros and Cons

woman manicuring her nails

Nothing makes the hand feel more beautiful than a perfect manicure. Manicure adds elegance to just about any hands just as a makeup adds beauty to the face, especially when applied in front of the right mirror.

When it comes to fingernails, you have lots of options for beautifying them. You can choose the traditional style of painting them over with bright colors or go with the modern style of varying nail lengths and topping it all with beautiful colors.

There’s no limit to what you can do. Be creative enough, and you’ll always end up with beautiful nails each time you visit the manicurist.

Dip, Gel, and Acrylic are some of the most popular manicures to beautify your nails. Though applied on the same surfaces – these manicure materials are very different from one another and come with different pros and cons.


Dip nails


Dip falls somewhere between Acrylic and gel manicure. Unlike Acrylic, manicure dip does not make use of any special chemicals to help it harden. And compared to Gel manicure, it does not require the special UV rays necessary for curing.

Dip manicure to so many ladies out there is the perfect manicure. And one can easily understand why – it’s straightforward to apply, an ideal DIY and easy to remove. It’s setting process is quite straightforward and above all its last longer and doesn’t chip easily.


Dip Manicure Application

Dip polish is quite easy to apply. There are lots of DIY dip polish packages in the store. You can quickly grab one and make them beautiful.

Dip polish application involves applying a base and then dipping them in powder. The powder adds the colors, and they come in different colors and shines.

Get the perfect dip nails with these kits:

Chipping, though very unpleasant is something we’ve all faced one time or another. Dip lasts up to 2 weeks without chipping off. Though when applied you might want to be extra careful. Dip, unlike Acrylic, is not attached to the finger as an extension, you may wear it for the length of time it takes for your finger to grow up to a new length.

Dip nails fall somewhere between Acrylic and gel manicure. It does not have the ‘strong’ rigidity of an Acrylic Manicures but not as flexible as a gel manicure; it lies in the grey area. The dip is made from both Acrylic and gel and as such comes with the property of both. It is in a way flexible enough to feel almost like the natural fingernails.


The dip looks very natural at least in the first week after a manicure. It comes with a natural fingernail-like luster. It takes the same shape and does not require any special sculpting or shaping. Dip in this aspect can be compared with your traditional nail polish; it only adds elegance and nothing more.

Dip does not require any special curing process. No UV rays or use of chemicals. It cures perfectly when left in the open. Though you might want to keep them spread out on a clean surface for the curing process, so you don’t rub it off.



Dip manicure cannot become infected with bacteria or make rooms for fungal growth. It is applied directly and covers the length of it. You might want to visit your manicurist once they grow above the manicure so that it can be trimmed off.

Dip application process does not involve the use of any chemicals with toxic fumes. The whole process is odorless and does not pose any serious problems to your health even when done in a closed room.



Dip manicure does not involve the use of harsh chemicals during the application process which can damage your nail beds. Dip manicure is one of the safest manicures and does not cause much damage.

Dip nail removal is faster compared to other. You’ll have to soak them in 100% acetone solution. It takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes for dip manicure to be removed entirely.




They give you lots of options – you can choose to make them slender, longer or strengthen it.

They require UV rays to harden. Contrary to popular belief, it does not cure under normal lighting conditions and as such cannot be used without a nail lamp. However, there might be a few ways to cure gel nails without UV Light.

Hopefully, there are options and if you’re wondering whether to pick a UV or a LED one, there’s a hybrid solution: UV LED nail dryers. They’re safe to use since the LED light is inoffensive and the UVA wavelength as part of the dryer is high enough to not affect any tissues.

They are very similar to Acrylic, but whereas Acrylic is rigid, it is flexible and has a more natural look to it than an Acrylic nail, plus – it’s more expensive.


Application Process

To extend them with gel, you’ll need to apply a nail tip for the required length. After that, you can then apply the three layers of gel, starting with the base coat, polish color, and top coat. Each of these steps will be cured under a UV lamp for 2-3 minutes.


Though gels are more expensive than Acrylic, they don’t last long. Often gels will last between 10-14 days before needing your attention again. Though you can easily extend this to a 30 days lengths if you are careful enough to file off nails once they outgrow your manicure.

They offer a level of flexibility. They are not as rigid as Acrylics and at the same time are not as flexible as the natural nails.


They have the most natural look of all three manicures. It comes with flexibility and glossy appearance like the natural nails.

Each layer of a gel nail needs to be cured before other coatings can be applied. Curing involves putting them under UV rays for a minute or two. The UV rays trigger photoinitiators in gels which in turn activate a type of chemical reaction called photoreaction. This reaction then leads to the hardening.


Gels are safe. But you might want to avoid some gels which contain chemicals like BHA. BHA is quite harsh on the nail beds and can cause damage to it.

Gels need UV lights to harden. UV lights also come from the sun and have been reported to be a leading cause of cell mutation which often causes skin cancer.

Though nail lamps produce such lights, they have been certified safe for use since the emissions are minimal compared to that from the sun. However, some experts believe that frequent use of UV rays during curing process can have a cumulative effect. To avoid this, you may want to keep your hands under the lamp for only as long as necessary. Or you may opt for a skin protector like your sunscreen or even use a special anti UV glove.


Gel nail removal is straightforward. Soak them in 100% acetone solution for 10-15 minutes and then scrape off gently. You may want to rehydrate them after gel removal as the process can easily cause them to become dry and brittle.

Get that sparkly look with these gel kits:




They have been around for a long time and often regarded as the first of new nail manicure trends. They are commonly used to extend nail lengths or even make them more slender.

With Acrylics, you get a lot of options to beautify your nails. It comes in different color varieties and shines. Acrylic does not have the same natural look as other manicures and is very rigid. Here‘s more on the subject.


Application Process

The acrylic application involves the same three stages as a gel application: base coat, polish color, and top coat. Though unlike gel applications, it does not require the use of UV rays for its curing process. It makes use of glues and other chemicals to keep it in place.


Though cheaper, often lasts longer. Typically, they usually last longer than two weeks and may even last up to a month with proper maintenance.

Unlike gel or dip nails, Acrylics are very rigid. This is because they are basically a mix between a liquid monomer and a powder. When these sets, the nail gets hard, therefore inflexible.

They do not require any special curing process like gel nails. After application, you can leave them in the open to dry off and harden.

The removal process of Acrylics is probably the longest. You’ll need to soak them in 100% acetone solution for 30-40 minutes. Then you can scrape it off gently. You may want to let a professional do this as you can easily damage them during the removal process.

Chemicals used during Acrylic application process produces pungent smells which are often unsettling. Some liquid monomers contain chemicals like MMA which produces toxic odors which can trigger asthmatic or allergic reactions in patients. You may want to keep the room well ventilated during application.

Some traditional Acrylic makes use of chemicals like toluene and formaldehyde. Though there are speculations that these chemicals may have severe effects on nail beds, there is no reliable evidence that this is true.

Infections often occur as a result of trauma or wrong application of the nail. A bump can cause a space between your nails and Acrylic which makes room for bacterial infections and fungal growth.





Inflammation can be caused if you have the habit of picking/biting your nails, if you want to get rid of that bad habit please check out our article where we talk about how to stop picking your nails!

Acrylic contains chemicals which are highly inflammable. So you may want to keep them from hot objects like your curling iron, dryers or straighteners.

Dip nails can are the best of both worlds. They have a natural look to them, are a little more flexible than gel nails, last longer and are easy to fix. But you cannot use dip nails to extend your nails or give them that slender look you may want.

Gel nails are often flexible and have a natural glossy nail look but are more expensive.

Acrylics lack the natural look and flexibility of natural nails like the dip or gel manicure but are cheaper. They can be used to extend and also last longer than other dip or gel manicure.


Wrapping Up

Whether you go for a dip, gel or acrylic based manicure, keep in mind that there are pros and cons of each one and it’s really up to you what route you want to go. We’re sure you have questions and would love to hear them out in the comments below!


  1. I have been dipping over tips for over a year now, dyi, seldom chip or break a nail and get tons of compliments on my dyi manicures.

  2. L cain…
    I did acrylic for years. My nail girl talked me into changing to dip. I do use a tip to extend the length of a bit . The outcome is beautiful. However, after only a few days they peel and lift up near the cuticle line and look awful. I have no idea what’s going on. Sure wish I could find some answers

    • Well I’m pretty sure that’s because it’s not supposed to go over tips and many who do put them over tips dont realize that maybe some extra work needs to go in so that there is not air pockets or disconnections…

  3. I have tried all 3 of these over the last 20 years & for me the gel, when applied by a good nail tech has been the best. That said, when is was applied poorly it was a nightmare. There was peeling , lifting and it didn’t last a week. I did not like the smell with acrylic & had issues with fungus, but maybe it wasn’t the product, I don’t know. Switched to the dip & loved it, even learned how to do it myself at home. Then the owner of the shop suggested I try the gel & I have never gone back, although I will say that there was a period of time I stopped doing anything above polish to my nails when she sold the store & the new owner raised the price but the quality went way down. I think it matters more how the tech does it than which you pick.

  4. I have been getting acrylic nails for a long time I was thinking about trying something different I have had gel tips before I didn’t care for them much I was thinking about doing the sns nails next time are they really short or can I make them like medium length I also don’t like any plain I always like design can that be done with the sns nails I don’t mind paying the extra money


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