Gel Manicure vs. Regular Nail Polish: Which is Best For You?

It’s no surprise - the debate between gel manicures and regular nail polish remains a hot topic! Especially now that gels are almost as ubiquitous as regular nail polish - you can buy everything you need for a gel mani online - it’s harder to decide which type of manicure is right for you. 

The truth is, both have their unique advantages and setbacks. This comprehensive guide aims to help you make an informed decision about which nail treatment is best suited for your nails!

Gel Manicure: Pros & Cons

Gel manicures have become increasingly popular due to their durability and glossy finish. A gel manicure involves applying coats of a gel-based polish, which is then cured under a UV or LED light. This process hardens the polish, making it more resilient to chips and scratches.

The biggest win of gels over traditional nail polish is that they are instantly dry - no more being delicate with your hands after a manicure, or worries of accidentally smudging your hard work. They also stay shinier for longer compared to traditional manicures. 

Gel nail polish is also incredibly long-wearing - it doesn’t chip off or flake, and lasts for weeks on your nails.

However, as amazing as gel polish is, there are some possible disadvantages to this miracle product. Firstly, many users are wary of the curing process. Experts say that the lights in gel lamps are safe, however we don’t blame you for wanting to be extra cautious. 

Secondly, since gel nails are so long wearing, they’re difficult to take off for non-experts. The process requires either filing the gel off or soaking it in acetone. 

This is hard to do properly if you haven't learned how - and many people end up forcibly picking and pulling off their gel nails, leading to damaged nail beds.

Regular Polish

Regular nail polish is a traditional choice, known for its simplicity and versatility. It's a liquid solution applied directly to the nail and air-dried. Using the right base coat and top coat can improve longevity and shine. 

The biggest advantage of nail polish compared to gel is that it’s pretty easy to apply - simply whack it on your nails and let them dry. Speed it up with a top coat if you want to (we personally recommend it).

Normal nail polish is easy to remove, too. Just a few swipes of remover and your nails are ready to go for a new manicure! However, because it’s easy to remove, it does mean that nail polish is not as long-wearing. It can chip, especially after the 7 day mark.

Differences Between Gel Manicure and Regular Nail Polish


The primary difference in ingredients is the formulation. Gel polish contains polymers that harden under UV light, creating a more durable coating. Regular nail polishes are a blend of resins, solvents, and color pigments, lacking these hardening polymers.


Gel manicures are renowned for their longevity, typically lasting up to two weeks (sometimes more!) without chipping. In contrast, regular polish might start chipping within a few days.

Outcome/End Result

Gel manicures offer a glossy, chip-resistant finish that stays vibrant for the duration of the manicure. Regular polish may not have the same level of shine or endurance but offers a more natural look.

Procedure of Applying

Gel polish requires a base coat, colour coat, and top coat, each cured under a UV/LED light. Regular polish is air-dried between coats, requiring no special equipment.

Which Nail Polish Should I Use?

The decision between gel and regular polish depends on various factors. Firstly, lifestyle. If you have an active lifestyle or work with your hands, gel manicures might be more practical. They’ll last longer on your nails and look better!

The second is nail health. If you have brittle or damaged nails, regular polish might be a gentler option for you to do at home. 

A third to consider is budget! Gel manicures are more expensive to have done, plus gel nail polish is more expensive than the regular kind. It takes specialist equipment too, if you consider the lamp and other products you’ll need, such as nail dehydrator and primer. 

The last point is simply aesthetic preference. For a high-gloss, long-lasting finish, opt for gel. If you prefer a more natural look and frequently change colours, regular polish is ideal.


Both gel manicures and regular nail polish have their unique merits and drawbacks. Your choice should depend on your lifestyle, nail health, budget, and aesthetic preference. Remember, the health of your nails should always come first, so make sure to give your nails a break between manicures and properly hydrate and nourish them. With this guide, you’re now equipped to decide on the best type of nail polish for you!

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