Acrylic Nails: Advantages And Disadvantages

If you're getting ready to splurge on artificial nails, and it's your first time, there are a few things to know. At the salon, you typically have three options: acrylic, gel, or dip nails. Acrylic nails are the most common, but are they right for you? We've checked with beauty experts and nail technicians to help break down your choice.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to acrylic nails.


  • Acrylic nails are more durable than gel or dip.
  • They last longer.
  • They are more affordable - both at the initial application and because they need replacing less frequently.


  • They tend to look more "artificial". If you want nails that can pass as natural, then skip acrylics.
  • Acrylics are rigid and inflexible. 
  • They take longer to set and cure than gel nails, so make sure to set aside plenty of time at your nail appointment.
  • Frequent use of acrylic nails can leave your natural nails brittle and thin.
Keep reading to learn more about each of these advantages and disadvantages. We'll also compare how gel or dip powder nails are different and when those might be preferable. Finally, if you decide artificial nails aren't suitable for you, we'll cover how you can grow your own natural nails faster.
Young woman getting artificial nails at professional manicure in beauty salon. Acrylic Nails Advantages And Disadvantages

What Kind Of Fake Nails Last The Longest?

The longest-lasting artificial nails can vary some, from person to person. You may find that one kind of nail lasts significantly better for you.  This can depend on what sort of products you use or what daily tasks you perform.

However, typically, acrylic nails last the longest. They're more durable and tend to outlive either gel or dip nails.  As nails grow out, you'll still need to fill in acrylic nails every few weeks. Because of this regular maintenance (which is about the same for any nail), the slight increase in durability probably isn't enough to be significant. Upkeep will continue regularly, no matter what nail style you pick.

Learn more about filling in your acrylic nails here.

Why Are Acrylic Nails More Affordable?

Since acrylic nails are so widely available, they are relatively cheap. Also, since gels don't last as long, acrylic does have an advantage in being replaced less often. This can save some money in the long run.

It's important to keep in mind that acrylic nails still need to be maintained every three weeks or so. As the nail grows out, regular appointments with a technician are essential to fill in the new nail growth. It's not just for looks - the fake nails start to lift and separate in time. While it may not seem very noticeable, this leaves an area for moisture to be trapped between both nails. This is a prime condition for bacteria growth, and keeping on top of this is a matter of health.

For more on cost, see How Much Does It Cost To Get Fake Nails? [Breakdown By Nail Type]

Overgrown manicure. Female hands with overgrown nails. Time for correction gel polish

Do Acrylic Nails Look Natural?

Acrylic nails are very hard, which makes them long-lasting. This also means that they have a rigid, inflexible appearance that natural nails do not. As a general rule, they are the most difficult to pass off as authentic. If you want a more believable appearance that stands up to scrutiny, dip or gels are the better bet.

But that's a matter of personal opinion - some people don't mind the less natural appearance of acrylic nails, and they don't care if it looks fake. After all, no one has naturally pink hair, but people dye their hair every day without concern. If the style you're going for isn't a "natural" look, don't worry about it.

Which Nails Set The Fastest?

One downside of acrylic nails is that they take a little longer to set. Once they're applied, they take around 10 minutes to cure fully. Compare this to gel nails, which can harden in a minute or two under UV light.

UV lamp at nail gel salon

But, this doesn't make much of a difference in the big picture. Whether you're using gels, acrylic, or dip powder, the entire process takes somewhere around an hour. Acrylic nails tend to be a little faster to apply, even if they're slower to cure. Gel cures quickly but can be slower to put on. Dip powder nails, similarly, have a lengthier application process. In the end, you don't save enough time for this to be a significant factor in your decision.

What's Healthier Than Acrylic Nails?

At a salon, acrylic nails are often applied to a filed, roughed-up nail surface. This makes the artificial nails stick better. But, it also thins and damages your natural nail. If you're using fake nails to disguise already damaged or soft nails, this is especially problematic.

After that, the nails are applied with chemicals, which comes with their own risks (mainly, irritation). And if you make it that far, the stress on your nails isn't over. When it's time to remove them, they're soaked off with acetone - not the healthiest chemical to expose nails to repeatedly and for long periods of time.

What Kind Of Fake Nails Are The Safest?

So, maybe by now, you're convinced that your nails aren't cut out for the stress and strain of acrylic nails. But you love the idea of artificial nails - do you have to give up on them altogether?

Dermatologists recommend you soak off gel nails as the safest option. You can still have the beauty and the look of fake nails without as much damage. Gel nails are more flexible and less likely to cause splitting and breaking of the natural nails. Be sure to specify soak off nails. Otherwise, gel nails are often filed off, which can thin and weaken nails.

Fans of dip powder argue that it is the safest option. However, this is not everyone's opinion. The chemicals involved in dip powder include a glue that holds the powder in place. This may not be any less dangerous than the chemicals for other nail options. Removal still requires acetone, just like acrylics.

It's also essential to be sure that your nail technician doesn't dip your nails into the same powder that any other customer has used. For obvious reasons, this isn't considered good practice, and it can lead to bacterial infection. But to save money, it's not unheard of, and it's something to watch out for.

Close up of the process of applying acrylic powder on the nails of a young woman in a beauty salon

How Can You Help Real Nails Grow Faster?

If you've read this far, you might have concluded that fake nails - any fake nails - are just too much work for you. Frequent trips to the salon are expensive, time-consuming, and not everyone's cup of tea. But you're still envious of people with long, beautiful, healthy-looking nails. So how can you achieve this with your own natural nails? There are a few helpful hints to grow gorgeous nails fast.

Use cuticle oil daily.

This will hydrate both the cuticle and nail bed for healthier nails. Jojoba oil is a simple, affordable choice.

Click here to see this oil on Amazon.

Add folic acid to your diet.

This vitamin multiplies nail cells, speeding up the overall growth. It can also make them stronger. If your nails are bumpy or ridged, this is a sign that you need to increase your folic acid intake.

Improve your diet.

A menu that includes a variety of foods and nutrients is important for nail health. The best way to do this is to eat a "rainbow" of foods - colorful fruits and vegetables, in particular, pack a potent punch. Cut out alcohol and sugars also.

Use acetone-free nail polish remover.

Acetone is tough on nails and can make them brittle and unhealthy.

Strengthen nails with keratin.

Keratin occurs naturally in nails already, but an extra boost makes them hardier and less prone to breaking.

Click here to see this nail treatment on Amazon.

In Closing

Acrylic nails are a fast, convenient way to have long, gorgeous nails. They're durable and last for several weeks. Acrylics are widely available and have been around for a long time, making them more affordable than newer options. There are disadvantages as well. These include the less natural appearance of acrylic nails. The repeated use of acrylic nails can also be harsh and damaging to your natural nails.

If acrylic nails don't sound like the best option for you, gel nails or dip powder nails are both considered less harmful than acrylics.  Dermatologists recommend soak off gel nails as the safest choice. But, if your nails aren't very sensitive or you won't be wearing them often, acrylic nails are a popular choice because of their many advantages.

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