Gel Nail Polish vs. Regular Nail Polish – Which one should I pick?

Last Updated on December 10, 2021 by SulaBeauty Staff

The nail industry has widened up drastically in the last decade. It introduced acrylic nails, nail extensions, peel-off nail polish, regular nail polish, and gel nail polish. Many people are unaware that there lies a difference between traditional nail polish and gel nail polish.

Both of them are applied directly on the nail bed, unlike fake nails; however, they are both different in several aspects. In this article, I will discuss the difference between gel nail polish vs Regular nail polish, and by the end, you will be able to choose which one to pick.  

About Gel Nail Polish 


Gel manicure emerged in the world of nail polish later in the 20th century and instantly got a lot of fame. Many people started choosing gel polish over regular nail polish; however, both are similar but still have huge differences that make gel nail paints – a better choice. Let us look at the pros and cons of Gel polish. 

What Are The Pros Of Gel Nail Polish? 


1. Quick To Dry 

The best benefit of these nail paints is that they dry quickly. However, gel nail polish needs to be cured under a Led UV Lamp; only then can it dry properly. The gel polish won’t harden if you won’t cure it properly. The whole process takes less than 2-3 minutes to complete.  

2. Chip-free 

Gel manicures last longer than regular nail polishes, and they are chip-free. They are significantly less prone to chipping as they stay intact and smudge-free because they are hardened under UV light. Also, because the consistency of gel nail paint is thicker than regular nail polish, they remain shiny and fresh for a long time.  

3. Long-lasting 

Gel manicures last for up to 2 weeks and longer if you take proper care of them. If you prepared your nails properly with a cuticle pusher before applying the gel polish, you could trust that they would not come off quickly. You can get this affordable cuticle pusher from Amazon for home gel manicures.   

What Are The Pros Of Gel Nail Polish? 


Well, gel nail paint seems easy and quick to apply; however, many steps in the process need attention. You need to know how to use a UV lamp and for how long to cure your nails properly. 

Also, a UV lamp is a must if you consider doing your gel manicures at home, which could be a little expensive, but consider it a one-time payment. I have been using this UV lamp which is pretty affordable and effective from Amazon, worth every penny, so check it out! 

Also, while applying gel nail polish, you need to add a topcoat and a base coat if you want your gel nail polish to last long.

Lastly, they are not easy to remove; once you have cured your nails with nail color and wish to change it after 2-3 days, you will have to use a significant amount of acetone or get them removed by the parlor, preferably.  

See also: Why Are My Gel Nails Changing Color [Turning Brown/Black/Grey]?

Regular Nail Polish: 


Regular or traditional nail polish has been used for decades. People started using nail polish extracted from natural resources such as fruits, flowers, and dyes. That now evolved to become the regular nail polish in tiny bottles that we use almost every day in diverse shades. 

The Good… 

  • These nail polishes dry in normal air and doesn’t require UV light as their consistency is not as thick as the gel nail polish.
  • You have to put one or two thin coats of regular polish and leave it to dry.  
  • These nail paints are easy to access, they are available in almost every drugstore, and they are pretty cheap.
  • They are easy to apply; an amateur with no knowledge can apply them at home without much instruction.
  • Regular nail polish is easy to remove; using a dab of acetone or nail paint remover on cotton, you can easily wipe off the nail polish.  

… And The Bad 

The only point that would make you choose gel nail polish over traditional nail polish is its long drying time. It takes pretty long to dry, and most of the time, something happens to the fresh coat of nail polish, from answering a phone call to tying your hair up. Most of the time, the topcoat gets smudged because it takes too long to dry. 

This type of nail polish doesn’t last long; in a few days, they start chipping off, you will be able to observe the wear and tear around your nails. They easily chip off the next day if you involve your hands in water activities too much.  

How To Apply Gel Polish vs Regular Nail Polish? 


The application process is similar to gel nail polish and traditional nail polish.

It is always ideal to prep your nails first by completely pushing the cuticles backward and cleaning your nail beds. Keep your nails dry before you move forward with a base coat.

While applying regular nail paint, most people don’t prefer applying a base coat before the nail polish. 

However, it is pretty necessary to apply before gel polish. After using the gel base coat and drying it, move on to applying the color.

Apply your desired shade of either gel nail paint or regular nail paint, then cure it under a Led UV lamp for 1-2 minutes.  

Most Common Gel vs. Regular Polish Questions 


How much stronger is gel nail polish vs. regular? 

Gel polish lasts longer than regular polish, we have already discussed that, and therefore, gel nail paints are considered to be stronger. Gel nails can last up to two weeks and even more if you take proper care of them.

However, regular nail polish will only last a week before it starts coming off from the edges, and you will have to re-do it again.  

Gel polish sticks firmly to your nail beds and, therefore, is not so easy to chip or smudge. The strength of gel nail paints is evident from their removal process, as it is a little challenging. 

Does gel nail polish ruin your nails? Is it wrong for you? 

No, not, gel nail polishes apply directly to your nails, and they can be easily removed using a nail paint remover, unlike acrylic nails that stick to your nail beds and can get painful over time.

I would advise you to be careful while removing gel nail polish from your nails or go to a parlor for the removal process so that you don’t end up damaging your nails.  

Is gel nail polish fake nails? 

Definitely not; this is a big misunderstanding circulating people for a while. Gel nail polish is not the same as fake nails or acrylic nails. Acrylic nails stick on top of your natural nail bed using adhesive. 

Also, fake nails can damage your natural nails over time, and they can be painful if worn for too long and regularly.  However, gel manicure looks and feels very much like fake nails on our natural nail, but they are not close to similar.  

Is it better to remove gel polish at home or at the salon? 

I recommend you take professional help from a nail salon to remove gel nails. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do it at home; it’s just that the process is complicated and takes way too long if done at home. You can follow some at-home DIY to remove gel nail paint using acetone bath and foil papers.  

Should I use a UV light or LED light to cure gel polish? 

You can use whichever light you prefer to cure your gel nails with. However, LED light is proven to be less harmful to our skin than UV light that uses UV rays. So, if you get gel manicures regularly or do it at home more often, I would recommend you buy a LED light. I have heard a lot about this LED light from Amazon, which is affordable and effective.  

Is my skin safe with getting gel manicures? 

Apart from the UV rays used for curing gel nails, getting gel manicures is entirely safe for your skin. You can always choose between an LED lamp and a UV lamp to attain the utmost safety of your skin. Using a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen and special gel manicure gloves before applying gel nail polish can provide additional protection. 

Is Gel Polish Worth The Extra Money? 

If you consider that gel polish lasts longer, up to two weeks or more, is chip-free, stays fresh throughout, is healthy for nails, and dries quickly. Then, I would say it is worth the extra money. With regular nail polish, you have to re-do your manicures every following week; they chip easily, lose shine after two days, and don’t dry quickly. So, gel manicures are worth it if you are somebody who doesn’t have much time for putting on regular nail paint daily.  

See also: Best Peel Off Nail Polish & Base Coat

Can you use gel polish like regular polish? 

The application process is the same for regular nail paint and gel polish. Therefore, yes, you can use gel polish like regular polish. The aftercare, the removal, and the procedure involve UV lamp and prepping nails for gel polish; however, the application is simple and traditional. 

Is there a healthy gel nail polish? 

Yes, many brands offer a healthy range of gel nail polish. I use these gel polishes from Beetles. They look adorable, free from 9 toxins, cruelty-free, and vegan friendly. Therefore, your nails are going to stay healthy and safe. These nail polishes are not as cheap, but they are chemicals-free and safer for your natural nails. Thus, the price is worth it! 

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