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5 Best Alternatives to Acrylic Nails that are Safer and Better

If you’re looking for an alternative to acrylic nails that are safer and better for your nails, look no further. Here are five alternatives that will give you the same results as acrylic nails without harsh chemicals. Try one or try them all, and see which one is best for you!

Acrylic nails are among the best and most popular ways to get beautiful and long-lasting nails.

Acrylic nails (also known as false nails, fake nails, artificial nails, fashion nails, or nail extensions) are a paste-form of powder polymer and a liquid monomer placed on your nails and given the desired shape.

Looking for a way to get your nails done without using acrylics? You’re in luck! There are several great alternatives that are just as good, if not better, than using acrylics. Keep reading to learn more about the best alternatives to acrylic nails.

Gel Nail Extensions

These are similar to acrylics but also an alternative to acrylic nails. Gel extension is the process that involves placing a hard gel covering over the natural nail and is cured under a UV or LED lamp.

After applying the hard gel, the color of your choice is applied to the gel. It, too, is cured layer by layer. Then finally, a top coat is applied to secure the soft gel polish.

If you want to go for nail art, first nail art is done by your nail artist on the tip of your nails; then, it is sealed using a top gel coat. 

Pros of Gel Extensions

  1. Safer for your Nails

Continuous use of acrylic nails makes our natural nails more prone to breakage. Natural growth gets affected. They prevent the bending of the nails. 

  1. Quicker to Apply

Where acrylic nails are time-consuming, gel extensions are done in comparatively lesser time. However, it may take up to 1-2 hours, depending on your desired shape, length, and nail art. You may create nail extensions too.

  1. Very Durable

If compared with acrylic nails, gel nails tend to last longer. For some of us, they may last for 1-2 weeks, whereas for others, the duration can be 4-5 weeks (depending upon the natural growth). Though they may last up to three weeks, it is highly advised to visit your nail tech for regular treatment, or you may damage your own nail.

  1. Easier to Remove

They can be easily removed either by you at home, or you may prefer to go to the nail artist who applied them. For removing them, file down about 80-85% of it. Soak the remaining in 100% acetone, cover it with foil and wait for about 10-15 minutes.

  1. Flexible and Feels Natural

They use a gel that provides them with a flexible natural-like texture. Since they are fragrance-free, they give your nails a more natural look. 

Drawbacks of Gel Extension

  1. Costs More

Since it’s odor-free, long-lasting, and provides a natural finish, it, on the other hand, costs more compared to acrylic nails. If you plan to go on a trip, then go for gel extensions. But if you are planning to attend a friend’s wedding, then you should opt for stick-on nails as they are pocket friendly. 

  1. Requires the use of a UV or LED lamp

Curing the hard gel under a UV light or LED lamp is necessary to ensure that the product holds and covers the nail completely. But these lamps are not always available to everyone. Hence, it can be a problem if you do your home manicure. 

Difference between Gel Nail Extensions and Acrylic Nails

Gel nail extensions are similar to acrylic nails but are not identical.

Acrylic nails are done using a paste made of polymer powder and a liquid monomer. Whereas gel nail extensions are done by using a hard gel that is directly layered over the nails. 

These nail extensions tend to last longer as compared to acrylic nails. Acrylic nails are comparatively cost-effective, whereas gel nails are odor-free and give a more natural finish. 

2. Press On Nails 

Glue-on nails or press-on nails are made of artificial, acrylic nails that are simply to be put on your natural nails using glue(acrylic nail glue). They are available online as well as in your nearest local market as well.

They are retailing in so many different colors, patterns, and shapes that you may even buy more than you thought.

Pros of Press On Nails

  1. The safest option for your natural nails. Since they are placed using glue on your nails, it does not affect your nails’ natural growth or texture. It does not even affect the nail bed.
  2. They are cheaper as compared to any other extensions. Even acrylic nails cost more when compared to these press-on nails. 
  3. Easy application and removal.

You can just buy them from a nearby cosmetic store and place them accordingly to the instructions. For removing them, soak them in acetone for a few minutes and wait till the glue gets removed completely. 

  1. It can be customized. 

You can buy plain press-on nails and paint them with the nail polish and art of your choice to show your creativity and gives you real acrylic nails look.

  1. They are time-saving and reusable.

Cons of Press On Nails

  1. They pop off easily. You may need to carry glue every time with you. 
  2. Not eco-friendly. Since they are made up of plastic, it’s hard to biodegrade them. 
  3. Wearing them for too long may cause cracks and breaks in your natural nails.

3. Dip Powder 

Dip powder nails or SNS nails are also counted among the alternatives to acrylic nails and are done by dipping nails in color powder (and brushing off the excess powder), and a clear sealant is used on the top to secure it.

They generally do not require nail forms. These are made up of chip-free material that does not let the manicure fade away so easily.

Its application is easy and non-damaging, but on the other hand, its removal damages the nails greatly. 

Pros of Dip Powder

  1. Quick and Easy to apply

It may take about 45 minutes to finish your new manicure. 3 coats are required to finish the dip manicure beautifully and deepen its color. 

  1. Doesn’t use harsh chemicals like Acrylics

Dip powder is made up of acrylic powder, but it does not use any liquid that contains toxic chemicals and damages nails a lot. The clear sealant used does not contain any harmful chemicals and hence does not cause any harm to your real nails.

  1. Odorless

Just like gel extensions and press-on nails, dip powder manicure is odorless too. It does not have any fragrance or odor.

  1. Very Durable

Unlike gel nails or acrylic nails, dip powder nails may last up to 4 to 6 weeks without any touch-ups or further treatments. 

  1. Doesn’t require a UV lamp

The base coat and dip powder have an instant reaction, drying it fast. Hence, it does not require a UV or LED lamp. 

Cons of Dip Powder

  1. Cost More 

Since dip powder manicures tend to last longer than gel or acrylic nails, they are more costly than them. 

  1. Tough to Remove

It requires 100% acetone to remove the dip powder nails. Since it requires pure acetone, it damages your natural nails a lot. It removes the upper layer of the natural nails and hence, making them thinner day by day. 

  1. Heavier than gel nails

Gel nails form a thin product layer on the natural nails which comparatively feels less heavy than a thick layer of dip powder. Apply dip powder, coat with sealant, and repeating these same steps up to 3-4 times causes heaviness on nails.

  1. The application can potentially be unhygienic.

Since the base coat is applied to nails and then dipped in powder, it can be messy and unhygienic for first-time users. 

4. Gel Nail Polishes

Gel nail polishes (or soft gels or UV gel) are another alternative to acrylic and are the same as our regular nail polishes.

The only difference is that Gel nail polish requires UV or LED lamps to be cured, whereas regular nail polish air drys. Gel polishes can last up to two weeks if taken good care of. 

5. Nail Stickers

These self-adhesive stickers (or nail wraps) are available in many different colors and designs. For their application, clean your nails and just apply nail stickers on them, and you are good to go with your newly done beautiful nails at home without damaging your own natural nail.

Unlike acrylic nails, these nail stickers are time and cost-effective and good for your nail health and your nail bed.


There are a lot of healthy alternatives to acrylic nails available in the market, such as gel nail extensions, acrylic nails, gel polishes, dip powder, press-on nails, nail stickers, and many more.

Their choice depends upon the time, money, and purpose of having a manicure. Many more factors affect the choice; they may differ from person to person.

According to nail tech, artificial nails (or fake nails) are a great choice if you face issues with growing natural nails. Think before you go for any of these, or you may spend too much money.

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