The Difference Between Gel, gel nail polish and Traditional Nail Polish

Gel nail polish

Picture this: it’s your first time at the nail salon. You’ve decided to get your nails done before the big occasion. You look at the shelves full of different options: there are simple, beige colors, which seem suitable for the event. Then, you see bright, adventurous colors, and you think to yourself: “What if this time I try something new… Classy red, maybe?” Alright, the decision is finally made. And then… the nail art specialist asks you: “Are we doing gel or traditional nail polish today?”, and you think to yourself: “Okay, I’m doomed.”

Alright, maybe that’s a bit of a dramatic scenario, but the truth is: when it comes to nail salons, there are so many possibilities that it can get overwhelming at times. Gel, gel nail polish, or traditional nail polish… What is the best option? Read on to find out how they differ. With our guide, you’ll forget about that dark scenario and easily decide what’s the best option for you.

Traditional nail polish – easy option?

This is the choice you are most likely familiar with. We have been using traditional nail polish since 1925. Even young girls often ask their moms to paint their nails. But what exactly is it?

Nail polish is primarily composed of nitrocellulose dissolved in organic solvents, with pigments that provide color. Plasticizers and resins ensure the durability and flexibility of the nail polish.

It’s probably the easiest way to paint your nails. You don’t need to see a nail technician to add some colors to your look. The various options available today make it easy to get creative and do some interesting designs, such as using glitter

It’s generally available, easy to use, inexpensive, and you can apply and remove it whenever you want. It’s very convenient, for example, if your job doesn’t allow you to have colorful nails, but you want to do something nice for yourself in your spare time. That way, you can use your favorite colors for the weekend, and then remove the polish when needed.

The downside of traditional nail polish is that it usually doesn’t last as long, which can be frustrating when you want a long-lasting design. It tends to chip if you’re doing physical work. Even though it doesn’t take long to apply, you might have to wait for it to dry properly to avoid ruining the design. So, what’s the alternative?

Gel – a long-term solution

Gel nails are a popular choice for those seeking a durable, long-term solution. It requires seeing a nail professional (unless you are one yourself) because, unlike traditional nail polish, the gel-based formula needs to be cured under a UV or LED lamp to set properly.

This option requires the skills of a professional nail artist who knows how to prep the nails, build up the base, form the proper nail shape, apply the color, and then set it with a top coat – all under a special curing lamp. This process allows the gel to stay on your nails for several weeks. 

Gel nails are known for their durability. The hardened gel makes it almost impossible to chip the design underneath the coat. Even if you’re performing physically demanding tasks, you don’t need to worry too much. Gel nails are glossy and look freshly done even after weeks.

The catch is, that if you need to remove them, you will also need to see a nail professional because regular acetone remover won’t work. You must be aware of the potential damage of keeping gel on nails for a long time. The formula can sometimes lead to weakened natural nails, especially if the removal process isn’t performed correctly. 

However, if the whole process is done properly, most users maintain healthy nails and are satisfied with this long-term solution that can last even up to 2 months (it’s important to note that you will see a regrowth of your natural nails by that time).

Gel nail polish– the middle ground

If you’re wondering what’s gel nail polish nails, look no further. It can be called a middle ground between traditional nail polish and gel, combining the best aspects of both: the durability of a gel formula and the natural appearance and easy removal of regular nail polish.

Gel nail polish is often referred to as a hybrid nail polish. Unlike gel nails, it typically requires fewer layers and can be more easily applied at home with a specialized kit (however, we still recommend caution and, ideally, having it done by a professional). 

Each layer of gel nail polish needs to be cured under a UV or LED lamp, and it can maintain its appearance for up to 2–3 weeks without needing touch-ups. The process of removing gel nail polish takes longer than with traditional nail polish, but isn’t as time-consuming as removing gel.

It needs to be emphasized that applying gel nail polish requires the use of professional-grade products and should be performed by a trained nail artist who understands the proper technique for removing the polish without causing damage to the natural nail.

What to choose?

Now that you know the differences between the nail formulas, it’s easier for you to make a suitable choice for yourself. If durability is your priority, opting for a gel formula might be the best choice. However, if you prefer a more easily removable option, traditional polish could be the way to go. Gel nail polish serves as a bridge between these two worlds, offering both longevity and ease of removal for those who desire a compromise.

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