About Acrylic Nails : The term "Acrylic Nails" usually refers to liquid and powder mixes, which are combined in front of you into a blob of dough, shaped onto your nail with a brush, and then air dried. Acrylics are also widely available and tend to be less expensive than gel. But a major drawback is the horrible smell liquid and powder systems usually give off during application. About Gel Nails : Gel is always that—thick, goopy gel. It can come in a bottle or a pot, but it’s never mixed on the spot like acrylic. It is usually cured with a UV or LED lamp. Comfort & Flexibility: Most people do not like acrylic nails because of the uneasiness that follows to the cuticle and how heavy it feels. Gel nails, on the other hand, are just like a gel, feels really light and take their shape themselves and hence are very easy on the hands. Acrylic nails are hard and also look thicker than gel nails. Any stress applied to acrylic nails can hurt the original nail. Gel nails are flexible and not hard on the touch. General: For added length, the products are applied either over a tip — a long piece of plastic glued to the end of your nail — or over a form which is call sculpting nails, instead of a plastic tip it’s a little sticker under your natural nail that guides the extension and peels off once the nail is hard. I personally prefer gel nails when compared to acrylic because it is a flexible monomer. Acrylic is much harder. We want our nails to bend when whacked against something hard. Gel provides that flexibility. My experience is that the gel takes the brunt of the force and cracks, but my nail won’t break. Nail extensions can be the subject of misleading marketing, customer misinformation, and even outright fraud. "Acrylic is liquid and powder, gel is gel. Period. If your nail tech can't tell you exactly what the product is called, if it comes out of a labeled mystery pot, or [they] insist it's gel even though it's powder, you're probably sitting in the wrong chair. Gel is usually more expensive than other systems, but is it better?
A lot is marketing. "When gel first started being promoted, everyone was like, ‘It’s much safer, it doesn’t damage nails.’ Consumer perception allowed salons to charge more — plus, you can’t sell gels in gallon containers like you can acrylics, so you can’t get a volume discount." Some technicians will tell clients a product is a gel/acrylic hybrid, or a "powder gel." Neither of those exist, although it is possible to put a gel nail polish over liquid and powder acrylics. "Solar, Crystal and Diamond" nails are all phrases salons use to make either gel, liquid and powder, or dip systems sound fancier (and more expensive). But they’re still going to be the same basic technology. As for safety, when done properly, fake nails shouldn’t damage your nails much. Most damage attributed to nail extensions is actually caused by over-filing the nails, which is most likely to happen when a technician forgoes a hand buffer in favor of a drill fitted with a file tip to remove the top layer of natural nail or some think the more you file the more it will last but it’s not. Some over-filing can be attributed to history. In the bad old days, fake nails were often made out of methyl methacrylate, or MMA, more commonly used for making tooth crowns and cementing hip and knee replacements to bone. It is also the raw material for making Plexiglas. "[MMA] doesn’t bond to the nail all that well, so the techs would shred the natural nail with a coarse file to make the MMA stick. It’s very hard to soften in acetone, and you’ve shredded the nail so when you remove it you damage the nail tremendously," said Paul Bryson, a chemist and the director of regulatory compliance at OPI. After the nail is filed down that far, it is much weaker than the MMA. If the fake nail catches on something, the damaged natural nail is more likely to give way than the super-rigid plastic, resulting in injuries — including the whole natural nail tearing off the finger.
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