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If you’re not well versed in the world of manicures, you may be wondering what’s the difference between gel and shellac nail polish.

Here’s everything you need to know about the different types of nail lacquer and what’s good for your nails.

Application: Nail Polish vs. Gel

The first difference between traditional nail polish and gel is in how they are each applied. Nail polish is painted on in several layers, often with a base coat and a clear top coat to offer protection against chipping or peeling.

By contrast, gel is applied and then set by an ultraviolet light. Most manicurists will apply a gel basecoat, set it with UV light, and then add a layer of gel color, which also gets set under the UV light.

With gel you’re applying fewer layers, but each layer needs time under the ultraviolet light. Altogether the process takes about the same amount of time as the application of multiple coats of traditional polish.

How it Looks: Nail Polish vs. Gel

Gel coats provide a high gloss that’s shinier than what a clear top coat can give with traditional nail polish. Nail art is a popular addition to both types of manicure, but your art will endure longer when it’s done with gel.

You have the same options of color choices and accessories either way, with a high gloss finish if you’re using the gel.

Lasting Power: Nail Polish vs. Gel

This is the reason why so many women prefer gel to traditional polish. Gel wins hands down (pardon the pun) when it comes to durability and a lasting manicure. Old fashioned nail polish peels off, chips, and otherwise deteriorates at a much more rapid rate. Why anyone would want that?

The UV-set gel, by contrast, creates a hard, durable barrier that’s practically impervious to chipping, and impossible to peel. The life of a gel manicure is really limited only by your nail growth. In short, you’ll need a new application after a month or so.

Where a standard polish manicure might last for a couple weeks (if you’re careful and don’t do any rough work with your hands), a gel manicure can stand up to the toughest duty of dishes or even rougher chores.

Even if you were a construction worker or a farm hand, for instance, you could continue to maintain your feminine look with a long-lasting gel manicure.

Because of its durable nature, gel is also great at protecting your natural nails and allowing them to grow longer.

More and more women are able to wear their natural nails, thanks to the strength provided by gel manicures, rather than applying false fingernails because their own wouldn’t hold up to daily wear and tear.

Removal: Nail Polish vs. Gel

If you’ve never used gel polish, you may not have realized that it requires a special process for removal. A simple swipe with your standard polish remover won’t touch it; further proof of its durability. Your gel coat must be removed with soaking to prevent damage to your nails.

Cost: Nail Polish vs. Gel

A gel manicure will cost somewhat more than a traditional-polish manicure, but it will be a lot longer before you need to think about your next manicure. Most women come out ahead with gel manicures because they’re paying less frequently, even though the per-manicure cost might be considerably higher.

Should I choose Gel or Nail polish? Although Gel outsmarts traditional nail polish in a number of features, it all comes down to personal choices.


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