I love Gel manicures not only are they durable and long-lasting but for me, they also feel light and natural and they look amazing with a nice glossy look.
But sadly they do have their drawbacks;
- They can be pricey,
- Harsh on your nails,
- You need to use a UV-led lamp to cure them
- And they can also be technical to apply especially for beginners.
So that’s why in this article I am going to share with you other alternatives that you can use.
The Best Alternatives to Gel Nails are:
- Acrylic Nails (Widely available & more affordable)
- Press on Nails (Perfect if you are allergic to gel or acrylic)
- Dip Powder (A perfect replacement for gel polish)
- Polygel Nails (Very similar to gel nails but easier to work)
- Natural Manicures (Safest & Healthiest)
Also, check out The Benefits & Disadvantages of Gel Nails – Are They Worth it.
1- Acrylic Nails
Acrylic nails are one of the oldest and most widely available nail products. They are very durable and long-lasting.
They can be used to either make nail extensions meaning lengthen your nails or as overlay nails which is done to reinforce and protect your natural nails.
Pros of Acrylic Nails Compared to Gel Nails
- Tend to be more affordable when compared to gel
- Doesn’t require a UV-led nail lamp to cure – acrylic nails air dry
- Are more widely available (though this is changing gel is quickly catching up)
- Will last just as long as hard gel nails – which is around 3-4 weeks and then a fill-in is needed.
Cons of Acrylic Nails Compared to Gel Nails
- Have a bulky and more heavy feel when compared to gel nails
- Won’t give you that glossy appearance
- Have a higher scent during the application – the liquid used during acrylic has a strong scent.
Which One is Safer
Both gel nails and acrylic nails come with some risks. This is because your natural nails won’t be damaged directly by either one of these products. Instead, they are damaged by either incorrect removal or the usage of harsh chemicals during application.
Now in my experience gel nails tend to be safer. But if you are trying to avoid harsh UV exposure then acrylic will probably be better.
I have an entire article where I compare Gel Vs Acrylic – you can click here to read it.
2- Press on Nails
Press-on Nails are fake nails that are usually made of plastic that can be glued directly to natural nails to create a manicure quickly. All you need is nail glue and the Press on Nails.
They come as both long press-on nails to create nail extensions or as short to just cover your natural nails.
I love Press on Nails and I use them alot. I think they are one of the best alternatives to both acrylic and gel because of how easy they are to apply, remove and all the amazing designs available.
Pros of Press on Nails Compared to Gel Nails
Press on Nails
- Are very affordable you can get a full manicure for $10 whilst gel extensions can be between $45-100
- Very easy DIY – you don’t need to go to a salon
- Can be applied very quickly – press on nails just need to be glued on which is why they are the fastest type of manicure.
- Can be removed very quickly
- Can be reused as well.
- Ideal if you are allergic to acrylic or gel – press on nails are usually made of plastic.
Cons of Press on Nails Compared to Gel Nails
Press on Nails:
- Won’t last as long as gel nails – Press on Nails are prone to lifting and won’t last like gel nails.
- Won’t give you that seamless natural look like gel nails – Press on Nails won’t give you that natural look and feel that gel nails have
Which is Safer – Press on Nails or Gel
Both Press on nails and gel nails can be damaging to your nails. But Press on Nails can be safer. But they need to be:
- Removed correctly meaning that you need to soak them for long enough for the glue to dissolve.
- Applied using nail glue and not super glue.
- Not worn for long enough for an infection to develop. – avoid wearing Press on nails for more than 2-3 days.
Now if you wear your Press on nails for too long an infection can develop and if you remove them incorrectly you can damage your natural nails. To avoid infections I usually remove my press on nails clean them and then reapply them.
Recommended Press on Nails
Kiss has some really cute and durable press on nails, you can click here to see the current price for a set on Amazon.
3- Dip Powder Nails
Dip Powder is one of the easiest to DIY and safest types of manicures available. And is a perfect alternative to gel polish.
They can easily create brilliant manicures that are very durable and long-lasting.
Pros of Dip Powder Nails compared to Gel Nails
Dip Powder Nails are:
- Super easy to DIY compared to gel extensions
- Doesn’t use any UV light to cure or harden.
- Easier to remove compared to gel extensions
- Once applied and removed correctly dip powder nails are safer than gel nails.
Cons of Dip Powder Nails compared to Gel Nails
Dip Powder is:
- Not very good at making nail extensions like gel extensions.
- Can be more pricey compared to gel.
- Can cause infections if proper procedures are not followed at nail salons
- Harder to apply and removed compared to gel polish
I have an entire article where I go in-depth comparing Dip Powder Vs Gel, click here to read it.
Video of How DIY Dip Powder Nails
Recommended Dip Powder Kit
I highly recommend the Kiara Sky Dip Powder kit, it is ideal for beginners. Click here to see the current price for a kit on Amazon.
4- Polygel Nails
Polygel nails are a new form of gel nails – they are a combination of acrylic and gel.
Polygel nails are better than gel nails in that they are easier to create nail extensions especially when you use dual forms. They tend to have a thicker formula which makes them easier to use.
Now with polygel nails, you will still need to use a UV lamp to cure them. And they are not so readily available in nail salons, and if you can get them they tend to be more pricey.
But you can easily DIY polygel nails at home, check out the video below.
Morovan has a really nice polygel kit, click here to see the current price on Amazon.
Now there are other ways to apply polygel nails click here to read the 4 ways to apply polygel nails.
Also, read my articles where I compare:
5- Natural Manicure
The safest type of manicure is a natural manicure where your cuticles are pushed back and your nails are trimmed and filed to look smooth and neat.
Natural manicures are probably the safest type of manicure. I have found that my nails grow faster and healthier when I go natural.
Now if you still want to add some color and life to your manicure without hurting your nails in any way. Then I recommend using a Peel-off nail polish.
Peel-Off Nail Polishes are water-based and are applied just like regular nail polish. Now the amazing thing about Peel off polishes is that they can be removed by just peeling them off.
So you won’t need to use any acetone which can damage your nails. You can click here to learn more about Peel-Off Nail Polishes.