This is a question we get asked all the time by clients. What exactly is the difference between acrylic and gel nails?
To be honest, once the products are applied they do not look very different but there are a number of traits for each system that make them different and a fully rounded professional nail technician should be able to provide you with the choice of both. Having a choice ensures that you end up with the correct product to suit your lifestyle – your work, your hobbies and how hard you are on nails.
So let’s have a little run down of each system.
Acrylic is the original nail enhancement product, discovered in a dental lab in the 1950s. The molecules present in the acrylic system are the basis for all our gel systems. They were originally known as porcelain nails.
Acrylic is a liquid and powder mix that is self-curing. Curing is the hardening process and happens when the monomer molecules form long, cross-linked chains. Although your nails will feel hard by the time you leave the salon, the full curing process can take 24-48 hours depending on the system your nail tech uses. This is why they can feel a bit tight later in the day.
Due to this slow curing process there are microscopic gaps in the acrylic that allow acetone or other enhancement removing products to penetrate the nail enhancement. This causes the bonds between the molecules to break down and the nails to revert to a jelly-like substance that can be removed easily.
They are a harder product, giving them durability and this also makes them harder to file.
You will also notice a strong odour with acrylic. This is a vapour caused by evaporation not fumes, as many incorrectly imply. Fumes are particles of gas suspended in the air and are caused by the likes of a car exhaust. The vapours from acrylic need to be kept ventilated so that they don’t build up, as this can cause headaches.
There is a huge range of colours available and the options available with acrylic from a simple extension to encapsulation to 3D work is endless.
The reason we ask what products you have on your nails if you’re coming to us for the first time is because each system is different chemically. The acrylic powder in each system is made from the monomer liquid so they are perfectly matched and will give the best results without weakening the nails or causing yellowing.
Gel nails were developed in the 1970s and are basically a partially cured pot of molecules in short chains. They need a UV or LED light to cure, and they cure very quickly. This quick cure is the flash of heat that you feel when your gel is placed inside the lamp. It is the molecules giving off a huge amount of energy in only a few seconds, compared to the slow acrylic process. The thinner the gel is applied the less you will feel the burn, though some people are lucky to feel nothing. This is why you will see a nail technician apply gels in 2-3 layers.
Gel cures compactly, with no room for acetone to penetrate so it must be filed off. There have been some soak-able gels developed but not all brands have them. It is a softer product, so it is more flexible.
Gels have come on in leaps over the last number of years with greater ranges of colours and uses. Hybrid products like gel polish have taken the industry by storm and fantastic art products like moldable 3D gels, spider gels and foil gels are now the norm in salon work.
In short, neither product is ‘better’ than the other or more ‘popular’, as some would have you believe. Most of the time it is down to the preference of the nail technician. Some clients nails are better suited to one or the other. That is why a complete nail technician can do both, in addition to offering manicures, nail art and gel polish and very often will also provide some of the newer services such as polygels and dip systems (but they are for another day’s discussion). They can offer every solution for you, to ensure you get the very best choice for your nails, that will fit in with your life.
If you are thinking of having nails done for the first time, don’t be disheartened if they don’t seem to work, there is a solution out there for you, it’s just a matter of trying them out. And nail technicians differ too, make sure you choose someone whose work you have heard of for the right reasons. You have worked hard for your money, decided to treat yourself to these enhancements, make sure the technician is qualified, insured and has a good reputation.
Meet our gorgeous Stephanie. She has the most envied brows in the salon. You just love them and we know this because you keep telling us.
Stephanie is sharing her daily routine for defined brows with all of you. Isn't it just lovely to see her again.
She has asked me to stress that she hasn't fully groomed and tinted her brows, that is a job for next week. But we think they look absolutely amazing.
Myself and Caitriona will definitely be practicing this.
We hope you are all well and staying safe, keep watching out for more videos coming soon xx
Our lovely Michelle is madly in love with Cocktail Spray Tan Can, and she wanted to share with all of you her tips for a great even application at home. No need not to look fabulous in lockdown!
We love the cameo from little Lucy too, I'm sure all the Mammies have similar going on at the moment.
We also have some advice on prepping your skin before tanning and how to look after your tan once it has developed:
We have Michelle's favourite Tan in Medium (10%), as well as the Extra Dark (14%) and Tan Remover available on our brand new online store, just click on the menu bar above.
We will be adding lots more products over the next few days. Meanwhile enjoy Michelle's video and we will update with her after pics xx
Here are the after pics of Michelle's tan once it developed and she had a shower. It looks so natural and blends so well with the natural colour she has picked up on the top of her body in the recent good weather. Great job Michelle xx
Please read this whole post and attached list carefully. Please note that these measures will be in place to allow us to come to grips with new ways of working, we will appreciate your co-operation and understanding as we find our feet. We will also review them every week to see what needs to stay and what needs to go.
OK, to begin, we do not have a set date for re-opening, the projected date is July 20th if other phases go well, but we are preparing for that day with the health and safety of staff, clients and our families are at the forefront of any decisions that we make.
When we re-open we will be offering a restricted number of services to begin with, in a limited number of staff hours. We will not be working to the same level as we did pre-lockdown. We will need to reduce our exposure as we will be in close contact (under 1m) for extended periods of time with multiple people in a day.
There will be a 15 minute gap between each appointment to allow the girls to finish with you, and then sanitise and disinfect their workstations and surrounds.
For the first few weeks we will most likely not be taking any new clients in to the salon, we will be offering services to those who have been what we class as regulars in our booking system for the last 2 years. We will advise when we are taking new clients again, hopefully not very long after.
Staff hours and appointment spots will be limited to reduce exposure. There will be no very long appointments available. You may find nail art and some services not available to begin with.
The type of treatments available will be limited, reviewed weekly and will be dictated by government guidelines. We will release a full list of treatments closer to re-opening when we know what we can offer.
Online booking will be suspended for the first few weeks and we will let you know as soon as we start taking bookings again.
Failure or refusal to follow these procedures may result in you being refused services. We do not want to turn anyone away but safety will come first.
If you would like a copy of this list e-mailed to you just send us your e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to keep you informed and up-to-date about our preparations and plans.
We hope everyone is keeping well and safe.
We are delighted to kick off our blog posts with a quick brow shaping tutorial for a natural brow. This is not intended for super definition or the HD brow look but to help you get to grips with putting a shape on your natural brows.
Caitriona kindly volunteered to let her brows grow out for the purposes of the video. It is our very first, so excuse the camera work, we will hopefully get better as we go!
Before you begin make sure you have the correct tools:- a good tweezers (we love Tweezerman), a mirror, a home tint kit if you want to add definition (make sure to patch test and mix according to manufacturers’ instructions), a disposable mascara wand, some cotton buds, damp cotton wool and an eyebrow pencil or thin make-up brush.
Brow Shaping Steps:
1. Cleansing - Make sure to thoroughly cleanse the brow area. This will remove any make-up or product build up, as well as free any loose hairs and any dry skin sitting in the brow.
2. Plan - Next have a really good look in the mirror at your brows and the shape of your brow bone, to get an idea of the shape that will suit your face, be honest with yourself.
3. Quick Note - Do not forget that brows are not identical, they are sisters not twins. It is ok if there is a slight variation with how they look. You can do a complete re-shape or just remove a few hairs to tidy up.
4. Measuring Brows - Measure your brows correctly using the brow pencil or thin make-up brush. Don’t worry about all the complicated brow mapping videos you have seen on YouTube etc, we just want a simple, and basic measurement.
5. Tinting Brows - An optional step you can include is a brow tint, which will add definition to the brows. No matter what colour your brows are the root and tip are usually transparent so adding even a light tint can quickly make them look more filled out.
Home tinting kits can be bought at most pharmacies but it is extremely important that you carry out a patch test and mix the tint according to manufacturer’s instructions. Only buy a brown tint for brows, never black unless you have raven coloured hair. Light brown for fair hairs and dark brown for darker hair.
Brows are a different type of hair to lashes, they take tint much faster and lose it quicker. If this is your first time and you are unsure of the colour you want to achieve you can layer the tint by applying and removing within about 30 seconds. Leave it for about 30 seconds to see how it is developing and then re-apply another layer. If you leave tint on the brows for too long they will go very, very dark, very, very quickly. Exercise caution.
We always tint before we remove hair to prevent tint entering the open hair follicle and causing infection.
When applying try to avoid the skin as much as possible, we know this is not easy. Don’t worry if you ‘go outside the lines’, you can tidy up with some cotton buds.
6. Shaping – It’s now time to shape, don’t be afraid! If you take a really close look at your brows you may notice that they grow in lines which can easily be followed. When you begin to shape do not forget to sit back every so often and check your work from a little distance. Some times when you are too close you can have a tendency to just see lots of hairs that need to be gone and when you sit back, you have half a brow!
Go slowly. Stretch the skin and pluck in the direction of hair growth. If you are a little sensitive to pain, numb the area with a little ice beforehand. However, a good tweezers will grab the hair properly, even the very finest. A poor quality tweezers will drag hairs and increase any pain.
As you get more confident, you can move more quickly.
7. Trimming – Once you have achieved the shape you want you may find you have a few long hairs that just will not sit how you want them to. Using a clean disposable mascara wand, brush hair upwards and trim off any ends that are too long. Please be careful here as it is easy to leave yourself with a hole if you get over-zealous.
8. Finished! – At this point you can leave your brows as is or you can add more definition with a brow pencil or brow shadow and set with a brow gel.
If you need any new brow products give us a shout as we can order some of the Evagarden products for you, including their amazing setting gel.
Thank you for reading and hopefully this will help you break free of the dreaded Quarantine Brows until we get back to work.
Miss you guys and stay safe
Caroline & Caitriona xx
Our Salon Team
Our team have a wealth of experience in the beauty industry, with varied & interesting experiences in their careers that they are excited to share with you. They will provide lots of varied informational posts including skincare, nails, behind the scenes, product information, how to's, and much more.