Gel Overlay vs Acrylic Overlay

Getting your nails done for the first time can be really complicated, especially if you are unfamiliar with overlays. Overlays are a great way to give your natural nails more strength and length. They are also a wonderful choice to take into account whether you have poor nail beds or if you don’t have the patience to wait for them to develop naturally long in length.

The overlays are intended to appear as real or as artificial as the user desires. The procedure for acquiring these nails is fairly quick and simple, and the results will be polished, fancy-looking nails for several weeks.

However, if you are unsure about whether you should use gel overlay or acrylic overlay, this article will assist you in determining which overlay is the best option.

What is Overlay?

Overlays are a thin layer of gel or acrylic materials that are put on top of the natural fingernail without the need for extensions. Anything that is put at the top of your real nails is referred to as an “overlay.”

Similar to extensions, overlays work by applying a gel or acrylic directly to your natural nail, which is then reshaped by hands before being polished to achieve a glossy finish.

Overlays are similar to extensions in that they do not require the use of a plastic plate to lengthen the nails. To give nails more strength and length, apply overlays.

What is Gel Overlay?

uv light for nails 2022
Image Source: magic_uv

Gel nails are applied to the natural nails in three coats: the base coating, a coating of the desired color, and finally the top coating. To harden or cure each coat of polish, it is necessary to expose it to ultraviolet light or to use special LED fingernail lamps until at least three minutes after application. 

The gel overlays could last up to 2 weeks, and the most noticeable effect is the glossy, natural appearance it provides. Furthermore, when compared to artificial nails, they are much more flexible and much less harmful, despite the fact that they are significantly more expensive and harder to maintain at home.


  • A gel overlay is extremely flexible, and it does not fracture or break easily when applied. 
  • In addition to being significantly stronger than acrylic overlay, it does not yellow when exposed to the sun.
  • Due to the fact that they do not contain powder or harsh chemicals such as methyl methacrylate and toluene, they are regarded as a more environmentally friendly alternative to acrylics. 
  • It also has the potential to dry out quickly.


  • They are somewhat more on the pricey side than the acrylic overlay.
  • Because they are not as popular as acrylic overlays, it is significantly more difficult to locate a nail salon that offers this type of service.
  • The UV dryer that is used to dry the gel has the potential to be quite hazardous. The ultraviolet (UV) radiation that it generates is extremely harmful to the skin and has been linked to cancer in the past. Before employing this lamp, you can, however, help to protect yourself by applying a protection that is made accessible to you by the salon.
  • The repair of this could be incredibly challenging, if not impossible.

What is Acrylic Overlay?

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Acrylic overlays are composed of powdered polymer and liquid, which combine to form a hard protective covering on top of your natural nails to protect them from damage. The substance hardens as soon as it comes into contact with air once it has been applied to your nails. 

The acrylic overlays, on the other hand, are clear and transparent. Consequently, you will be able to select the design and color you wish to be applied over them as soon as it has completely dried. 

One of the advantages of applying acrylic overlay is that they may be easily removed and restored in the case of an accident.

Despite the fact that they remain longer due to their durability, they usually cause damage to the nail bed as well as give your nails a more unnatural appearance.


  • Acrylic Overlays are extremely durable and long-lasting. 
  • They are easier to fix at home because of their strength, which causes them to crack rather than shatter when broken. However, you should still seek the advice of a skilled nail technician if you have any nail-related difficulties, such as this type of problem.
  • They are significantly less expensive than gel nails.
  • Because they are really popular, it is not difficult to locate a nail salon that provides this type of service.


  • Damage to the natural nail is extremely likely if the procedure is performed incorrectly. This can result in infection as well as the growth of fungus.
  • Upon application, it produces a powerful smell that lasts for several hours. If you do not work in a well-ventilated environment, the fumes from it can be highly dangerous.
  • Acrylic is also hazardous, and it is recommended that pregnant women refrain from getting acrylic nails while they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Their advantages might also be disadvantages at times. Because they are not flexible, they are more susceptible to injury.
  • They don’t appear as natural as gel overlays, and they can appear bulky.
  • It needs to be filed more than gel nails.



Because gel extensions are much more elastic and natural-looking than acrylic nail application, and because they do not have the same strong odor that acrylic nail application does, they are also more expensive than acrylic nail application. 

Gel overlays can range in price between $35 to $120. One-color gel manicures are available for as little as $35, which is more expensive than a normal manicure, but can last up to twice as long.

For insane celebrity-level nail art, expect to pay approximately $100 or more, and that doesn’t include the 20% tip.

As a result of its widespread popularity, many nail salons now offer acrylic overlays as an option. Acrylics are reasonably priced, with a full set of colors costing on average $35 and refills costing on average $15.

You won’t have to look very far to find a nail technician that is familiar with this form of fake nail because there are plenty of them out there who have experience with it.

Can last to a duration of:

Depending on how well you care for it and how well it is applied, a gel overlay can last up to two weeks, and in some cases even three weeks or more.

While an acrylic overlay can survive longer than a gel overlay due to the fact that the acrylic overlay’s substance is stronger than the gel overlay, the gel overlay is more expensive. It can last anywhere between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on how well you take care of it.


It is true that the acrylic overlay is harder than the gel overlay, however the acrylic overlay is significantly less durable than the gel since the gel overlay can be quite flexible, meaning it can bend without breaking.

Whereas the acrylic overlay may easily be cracked because of its hardness, it cannot be bent in the same way that the gel overlay can because it may cause your nails to be split.

Final Conclusion:

If you don’t care about the price and would rather have high-quality results, the gel overlay is the best option. Because it appears more natural when applied than the acrylic overlay, it is preferred over it. 

It is also more flexible than the acrylic overlay, thus it does not break as quickly as the acrylic overlay, which is a disadvantage of the latter.

It is also less toxic as compared to acrylic, which contains harmful chemicals and emits hazardous fumes throughout the manufacturing process. In contrast to the acrylic overlay, the gel overlay will not cause significant harm to the nail bed. 

To avoid any complications with your natural nail, you must seek the assistance of a skilled nail technician if you wish to have your gel overlay removed completely. 

However, unlike acrylic, this sort of overlay does not last as long as the latter. Furthermore, it is difficult to locate nail salons that provide this type of service because it is not as widely available as the acrylic overlay service.

If, on the other hand, you do not have the financial means to invest in a gel overlay, you might consider an acrylic overlay as an alternative option. 

When done incorrectly, this service has the appearance of natural nails, which is disappointing. However, when done perfectly, it has the look of natural nails.  As a result, make sure you get a professionally trained nail technician to do it for you. 

For persons who have extremely thin nails, acrylic overlays are also recommended because they make the nails stronger in the long run.

Removing your acrylic overlay, on the other hand, can cause considerable damage to the nail bed, resulting in your natural nails becoming significantly weaker than they were before you applied the acrylic overlay. 

Because of the chemicals and fumes that are released during the application of this overlay, it can be hazardous when in use.

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