Nail Enhancement Types: Gel, Acrylic, Shellac, Manicure Differences

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Nee­d clarification on all the different nail e­nhancement options out there­? From acrylic to gel shellac and classic manicures, choosing the­ right treatment can be a challe­nge. But fear not! We have­ got you covered with a detaile­d breakdown of the key diffe­rences betwe­en these popular nail se­rvices.

Let’s discover the distinctive attributes of e­ach nail enhancement from the­ir essential components to the­ application process and durability. Get set to engage yourself in the world of nail e­xpertise! By the finale­, you’ll know the benefits acrylic ge­l shellac and manicures can bring to your nails. Let’s delve into the captivating world of nail art.

Top 4 Types of Nail Enhancements

1- Gel Nails: Durable and Glossy

Gel Nails Durable and Glossy

If you’re looking for a long-lasting, ultra-shiny nails service, gel extensions could be the way to go. Gel nail enhancements use a liquid monomer gel that gets cured under UV or LED lamps. It turns the soft gel into a durable, rock-hard coating on your nails.

One of the biggest perks of gel nail extensions is their impressive longevity. When properly applied, a good gel manicure can last up to 3 weeks before you start to see chips or Growth at the base. The flexible, damage-resistant gel conforms smoothly to your natural nails.

Another major benefit of gel nails is their gorgeous, ultra-shiny finish, which stays glossy for weeks. Gels require no topcoat, giving them an enviable candy-coated look straight out of the lamp. They’re also available in thousands of bold or sheer shades.

However, gel nail enhancement removal requires soaking nails in acetone to break down the cured gel coating. If not done carefully by a pro, it can leave nails slightly dehydrated.

2- Acrylic Nails: The OG Manicure Extension

Acrylic Nails: The OG Manicure Extension

When you picture classic, longer nail extensions, you’re probably thinking of acrylic. Acrylic nails have been used for enhancement since the 1970s. This technique combines liquid monomer with powdered polymer to form a thick, moldable paste.

The biggest advantages of acrylics are their durability and ability to dramatically extend nail length. Nail technicians can sculpt acrylics into any desired shape, from short squares to long, dramatic stilettos. When properly maintained, a good acrylic set can last 3-4 weeks.

Acrylic nails can look thick and bulky compared to some other enhancement types. But with the right shaping and finish work, they can look impressively sleek and natural, too. Countless colors and designs are possible with acrylic!

The main downside is the strong odor from the liquid monomer during application. Acrylics also require acetone soaks and professional removal to prevent damage. But for long-lasting extensions, they’re hard to beat. You can get more guides about different types of manicures for nails.

3- Shellac Manicure: Glossy Gel Polish

Shellac Manicure: Glossy Gel Polish

Think of shellac as the best of both gel and regular nail polish. A shellac treatment starts with your technician applying a base coat, color coat, and topcoat—all made from UV-cured gel polishes. The result? Gorgeous, glossy, chip-resistant nails!

Shellac is less damaging to natural nails than gels or acrylics because it doesn’t require sculpting or filing. It dries instantly under the UV lamp versus air-drying standard polish. Shellac resists chipping, smudging, and dullness for up to two weeks.

However, shellac is less durable than a full acrylic or gel extension. You’ll need touch ups and removal every 2-3 weeks as your natural nails grow out. Removal requires soaking in acetone remover, which can be dried.

Shellac is the perfect compromise for those wanting the glossy, low-maintenance look of gels without full nail extensions. It’s safer for natural nails than traditional gel.

4- Basic Manicure: The Classic Option

Basic Manicure: The Classic Option

This classic nail treatment entails cleaning, shaping, buffing, and polishing natural nails before applying nail polish. Manicures don’t add extensions – they groom and beautifully coat your nails.

The biggest perk of basic manicures? Zero damage to natural nails and no harsh removers required. They’re also much cheaper than nail enhancement services. A simple mani is the perfect quick fix between longer-lasting treatments.

However, the biggest downside is the need for extended wear compared to shellac, gel, or acrylic. Even with a quality topcoat, a regular mani only lasts about 5-7 days before chipping or growth shows. Your nails will also be at their natural short length.

Overall, basic manicures allow you to change up colors frequently while keeping things simple. They provide a fresh, groomed look at minimal cost.

Application and Removal Processes

Removal Processes

While the results of acrylic, gel, shellac, and regular manicures are quite different, the application and removal processes also vary.

Acrylic nails require mixing and carefully sculpting extensions using the liquid/powder formula. An electric file is then used to shape and perfect the nails. For removal, they must soak in acetone wraps to break down the acrylic, followed by gentle scraping.

Gel nails involve much less sculpting. They start with clear gel painted over a dual form or directly on nails. The gel is then cured under UV light in layers to harden and extend nails if desired. Special wrapping and acetone removal are also required.

Shellac and regular manicure services involve minimal prep beyond filing, pushing back cuticles, and lightly buffing nails. Color polish or shellac coats are then painted directly onto clean, bare nails.

Shellac removal requires soaking in acetone wraps to break down layers. Regular polish gets removed with non-acetone remover. The key is avoiding damage to underlying nails.

Long-Lasting Power and Safety

Long-Lasting Power and Safety

Looking for maximum lasting power from your manicure without nail damage? Here’s how the different enhancement types stack up:

  • Acrylic nails provide the longest wear of around 3-4 weeks. However, some minor nail thinning can occur over time from the acetone removal process.
  • Gel nails come in second place at around 2-3 weeks. Their flexible soak-off removal is much gentler than harsh scraping.
  • Shellac gel polish resists chipping for around two weeks. Compared to full extensions, it won’t damage natural nails long-term.
  • A simple buffer shine manicure lasts around 5-7 days before you’ll need a touchup. Regular polish is the quickest to chip without protective gels or coats.

Overall, enhancements that involve layering gels or acrylic over nails tend to last the longest but carry more risk for nail dehydration and brittleness over time.


When choosing between gel, acrylic, shellac, or regular manicures, consider your priorities. Classic acrylic enhancements offer durability and length, while shellac offers low-maintenance, high-shine nails. Gel extensions provide longevity and flexibility. At Jumana Saloon, you can get expert guides about nails enhancement.

Inform your beautician about your nail goals and priorities to ensure top-level products and application techniques. Whether you opt for acrylics or keep it natural, your nails deserve to look their best.