Regular Nail Polish VS. Gel Polish - What's The Difference?

Just like everything else in the world, beauty routine is not so simple anymore: there are numerous shades and types of every product and you have to stay up-to-date in order to make sure you’re getting something that goes well with your personal style.

In an attempt to aid our readers in navigating the complex beauty world of today, we've compiled an article that covers everything you need to know before you choose to get a gel polish done on your nails.

We get it, to the average user of nail polishes, the inclination to dismiss gel polish as another ‘fad’ might be too persistent.

You’d probably shake your head in dismay and ask, how is gel polish exactly any different from regular nail polish? Or is it just another way to waste money on beauty products you don’t need?

Well, you’d be surprised to hear that there is a huge difference between regular nail polish and gel polish.

To understand this better, let’s take a look at what they’re made of and how they differ in terms of application and results.

What is Regular Nail Polish?

Regular nail polish is made of polymers that are dissolved in solvents that evaporate upon application and leave behind a film of color.

In contrast gel polish contain some photo initiating compounds that make them impossible to dry in air and need harsher measures for them to stick on nails for longer.

Even though regular nail polish and gel polish can both be applied at home, if done with great attention and care. However, there’s a tricky application process involved when it comes to gel polish and knowing that technique can make a huge difference in the results you obtain.

Regular nail polish is easy to apply: you shape your nails, apply the base coat, then the polish and the top coat before letting it dry naturally. With gel polish, the application technique is not so simple.

After the nails have been shaped and the base coat has been applied, a coat of gel polish is applied on the top surface of the nails. This gel polish doesn’t dry in air naturally.

It requires LED/UVA light exposure that allows the nail polish to dry while retaining proper texture. In addition, every additional coat of gel polish requires the same treatment.

Therefore, you can see why applying gel polish isn’t exactly an easy task and if you plan on doing it at home, make sure you have an LED or UVA drying machine at home.

Regular manicure & Gel Polish

Gel polish is fairly new and it can be a bit difficult to handle it in the beginning. Salon gel manicures are, therefore, highly recommended if you don’t have experience and require help.

If a regular polish costs, say $20, at a salon, the price for a gel polish manicure may double or triple given the salon’s standards. So, make sure your pocket is full!

Regular manicure may only stay for about a week and is prone to chipping off as your hands get busy, but a gel polish manicure can stay intact for up to three weeks.

This is because the gel in gel polish makes the polish endure a lot more than what the regular polish can. As far as the drying process for gel polish is concerned, you do not have worry about keeping your hands in the air to let it dry. You can simply get up and go home once the gel polish is done.

Regular nail polish may come off with the help of a regular nail polish remover but the same is not the case with gel polish. Gel polish only comes off upon being soaked in acetone for at least 15 minutes and with a little bit of scrubbing.

While regular nail polish may only leave some yellow marks on your nails if kept on for too long, gel polish can damage your nail bed and/or cuticles due to the removal process being a little harsh.

If you get it done from a salon with proper care, of course, the damage will be minimal but present regardless. So, prepare yourself for some, not too harsh, side effects if you intend to use gel polish.

Wait, so what’s holographic nail polish then?

Holographic nail polish is another type of nail polish that’s becoming quite trendy lately. Holographic nail polish requires a coat of the holo pigment which is like glitter in the sense that it gives off a shiny look.

However, instead of a classic shine that glitter is known for, holographic nail polish refracts the beams of light that fall upon it and produces a rainbow-y look that is to die for!

They come in different forms as per your preference: some have glitter particles while some are matt; your imagination is the limit.

Everything you need to know before you get a gel polish done

Acrylic Nails are NOT required for the application of gel polish. Acrylic nails are different and are applied over natural nails while gel polish is applied in the form of coats over a base coat on natural nails. The two are not the same in any way.

Contrary to what most people believe, gel polish is NOT just another type of regular nail polish that is a little transparent: it is a completely different solution that acts differently on nails and requires a different sort of treatment for perfect application.

Pros and Cons of Gel Polish

Gel polish is a wonderful alternative to regular nail polish because it stays on for long durations of time. Moreover, it does not require a long drying period. Unlike regular nail polish, gel polish does not chip off easily and looks classy for weeks on end!

However, there are some drawbacks that you need to be aware of before you decide to get a gel polish manicure. Applying gel polish leaves your nails with lesser breathing space.

The UV exposure that is absolutely necessary for the gel polish to dry may affect your skin and leave marks on it in the long run. Since your nail beds are a sensitive spot, constant gel polish application may cause damage.

Do note, however, that these effects only occur if you keep using gel polish for longer periods of time without removing it.

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, the world does not offer one coat, easy-chip regular nail polish anymore. The plate is literally full, not only of colors for you to choose from, but textures, effects, shapes, lengths, durations, processes and what not!

Get your hands on some new kits or get a salon appointment now, who knows, may you’ll find yourself a brand-new nail regimen!