Which is best? Gel X, Acrylic or Structured Gel Nails?

So you’re thinking about getting nail extensions, you click the link in the bio of a nail technician with great work you’d love to try and then you hit a roadblock. There are nail terms on the booking form you don’t quite understand. What are Gel X, Acrylic or Structured Gel Nails and which one do you choose?

When it comes to getting my nails I’m all about using the process that will be gentlest on my nails. Gel X, Acrylic or Structured gel I’ve tried them all and here’s what I think about each of them.

What is Gel X?

Gel-X typically refers to a type of nail extension system in the beauty and nail care industry. Gel-X nails are a type of artificial nail that is created using gel products. The Gel-X extension system usually involves applying pre-made gel nail tips to natural nails, and then curing them under a UV or LED lamp.

Pros of Gel X Nail Extensions

One of my favourite nail sets to date has been an impeccably white Gel X nails I did for my birthday a few years ago. It was one of the fastest application processes I’ve experienced. The process for this style of manicure allows for it to be quickly and efficiently affixed without the need for sculpting or excessive filing, saving both time and effort during the salon process.

Gel X extensions are also designed to be lightweight and thin, mimicking the look and feel of natural nails. This results in a more comfortable experience for the wearer, without the heaviness often associated with traditional acrylic nails. Another great pro to note is your gel x nails can last up to 3-4 weeks without any lifting, so you can say goodbye to prematurely raised edges or chipping.

Cons of Gel X Nail Extensions

A major con I’ve found in getting this kind of manicure is the need to completely replace it each time. There’s no opportunity for a refill like an acrylic overlay or structured gel mani. Though time-consuming, removing the extensions gives you an opportunity to have a good look at the state of your natural nails every few weeks. This also means you can choose to have a completely different service done after removing your gel x extensions.

white gel x nails
Gel X Nail Extensions

What are acrylic nail extensions?

Acrylic nail extensions are a type of artificial nails that are created by combining a liquid acrylic product with a powdered acrylic product. This mixture forms a dough-like substance that can be sculpted into the desired nail shape and length. The process typically involves applying the acrylic mixture to the natural nails or to artificial nail tips to extend their length.

pink acrylic nail extensions

Pros of acrylic nail extensions

While I don’t have the numbers just by the sheer volume of nail technicians offering acrylic nail extensions as a service, acrylic nail extensions are quite possibly the most popular style of nail extensions to get in Jamaica and it’s easy to see why. Acrylic nails offer a range of advantages. Known for their durability, acrylic nails are less prone to breakage and chipping, providing a resilient option for those with fragile natural nails. Their versatility allows for customization in terms of length and shape, accommodating various style preferences. Additionally, an acrylic nails set is long lasting and serve as a sturdy canvas for creative designs.

Cons of acrylic nail extensions

Unfortunately, my years of experience with acrylic nail extensions has not been without downsides. Firstly, there’s the matter of service time. Acrylic nail sets can take one, two or more hours out of your day for an elaborate design. The strong chemical odor during application may be off-putting, and improper application or removal can lead to damage to the natural nail bed. Regular maintenance, including fills and touch-ups, is necessary as the natural nails grow, and attempting DIY removal can be challenging and put you at risk for damage.

What are structured gel nail extensions?

Structured gel nail extensions, also known as hard gel extensions, present a range of appealing features. Renowned for their natural appearance, they offer a glossy finish that closely mimics the look of healthy nails. If you’re familiar with an acrylic overlay, a structured gel manicure is one in which a builder gel is applied to the natural nail and shaped to provide a strengthening layer between your natural nail and the gel polish.

Pros of structured gel nail extensions

This is the often the most natural looking of three types of nail extensions we’ve explored today.The flexibility and lightweight nature make them comfortable and less prone to breakage. The odorless application process adds to the overall client experience. Gel extensions are considered gentler on natural nails during application and removal, and they cure quickly under UV or LED lamps, reducing the application time. 

Additionally, structured gel extensions require less filing than acrylics, minimizing the risk of over-filing and potential damage. Because it’s typically done to the length of your natural nails, the service time can be shorter than a gel x or acrylic nail extension appointment. For individuals with brittle nails that struggle to grow, a structured gel manicure can help your nails maintain their length as the added layer of gel can help prevent breaking.

Cons of structured gel nail extensions

Of this list, structured nails are my favourite but that doesn’t mean it’s without its own drawbacks. One notable concern is the cost, as the application process often requires professional skill and may be more expensive than other nail enhancement options. Maintenance is crucial, and improper removal can lead to damage to the natural nails.  Additionally, the flexibility of gel extensions, while contributing to their comfort, can also make them more prone to lifting or peeling if not applied and maintained carefully.

Final thoughts

The decision between Gel X, acrylic, or structured gel nail extensions involves careful consideration of the pros and cons associated with each option. Gel X nails stand out for their quick application process, lightweight feel, and durability, but the necessity for complete replacement can be a drawback. Acrylic nails, being widely popular, offer durability, versatility, and a sturdy canvas for creative designs, yet they come with the downsides of a strong chemical odour, lengthy service time, and potential for damage during maintenance. Structured gel nail extensions present a more natural appearance, with benefits like a glossy finish, lightweight feel, and suitability for those with brittle nails. However, the initial cost, potential for skin damage during curing, and susceptibility to chipping may be concerns. Ultimately, the choice depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle.

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