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Gel Polish vs Regular Nail Polish: Which is Right For Me?

Gel Polish vs Regular Nail Polish: Which is Right For Me?



Trying out gel polish for the first time? Before you begin, there are some important things you should know in order to achieve long-lasting results. We'll break down the differences between gel polish and regular nail polish, as well as offer some tips and tricks on how to properly apply gel polish. First, let's begin by breaking down the difference between gel polish and regular nail polish.

Gel Polish vs Nail Polish

Perhaps the most notable difference between gel polish and regular nail polish is that gel polish requires the use of an LED or UV lamp to cure. When cured under the lamp, the particles in the gel polish polymerize and harden. This also cuts the "dry time" by a significant amount of time, as with regular nail polish, you have to wait for it to complete dry. This curing process actually gives strength to the nails, and, if applied properly, will result in long-lasting wear. 

Regular polish, on the other hand, is the most basic of polishes. Unlike gel polish, regular nail polish DOES NOT require the use of a lamp to cure. The formula air dries naturally (or you can speed up the process by using quick-dry drops or top coats). To make it easier to understand, here are the main differences between the two:

Gel Polish vs Regular Nail Polish

Before we go on, check out some of the popular brands we carry:

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Bestselling Nail Polish:

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The Benefits Of Gel Polish

CND Shellac Gel Polish

Perhaps one of the main reasons to choose gel over regular nail polish is longevity. When applied properly, gel manicures can last between 2-3 weeks (that's nearly twice as long as regular nail polish!). 

Another benefit is durability. Because the gel polish has to harden under a lamp during the curing process, this naturally adds a bit of extra strength to your nails, making them less prone to scratches, as opposed to regular nail polish, where you run the risk of scratching your nails if the polish has not completely dried. 

That leads to the next benefit. There's virtually no dry time with gel polish. As busy people, we're on the go and don't always have the time to wait for our nails to dry. Because gel polish hardens under the lamp, this cuts out the dry time you'd have to endure with using regular nail polish. Once the polish is cured, you can go about your day and not worry about ruining your manicure. 

It is important to note that after gel polish is cured, you'll notice a sticky or tacky layer that's left behind that can make the nails still feel wet. This is normal and a result of the chemical reaction that happens between the gel polish and UV/LED lamp. This tacky layer can easily be removed with some acetone (and you don't have to worry about the color coming off when you do this -- gel polish requires the nails to soak in acetone in order to be removed). 

The Benefits of Regular Nail Polish

Cirque Colors

After seeing the benefits of using gel polish, it may be difficult to see what the benefits are to using regular nail polish, At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference and how often you want to change up your nails. If you're someone who prefers to change your color every week, maybe you'd want to opt for regular nail polish. If you're someone who wants something longer-lasting, you'll want to go with gel. 

The biggest benefit to using regular nail polish over gel polish is the removal process. Removing regular nail polish takes less time and effort than removing gel polish. Unlike gel polish, you do not have to soak your nails in acetone. 

Which Manicure is Right For Me?

The key takeaway from all of this is to choose the right manicure based on your lifestyle or personal preference. 

You should use gel polish if you:

  • want something long-lasting
  • want added strength/durability
  • want no dry time

You should use regular nail polish if you:

  • change your nail color frequently
  • want a no-wait removal process

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The salon that I go to uses a dremel to remove the gel polish rather than soaking it off making my own nails paper thin


Hi Jane!
Thank you for stopping by our blog. You bring up a good point about gel polish. It’s true that the curing and removal process can take some extra time compared to regular polish. However, many people love gel because it tends to last longer and stay chip-free for a more extended period. So, in the end, it might be a trade-off between spending a bit more time upfront for a longer-lasting manicure. Everyone has their preference, and it’s all about what works best for you! 💅😊 Have a nice day!

BP Team

⭐ Christina ( Beyond Polish Team ) ⭐

Seems like if spending more time for the curing and later the removal of gel you end up with similar time spent than with normal polish


Hi Maryann,

Thanks for stopping by our blog.WOW! It is nice to know that you can go up to 4 weeks with OPI lacquer. Your salon is doing great at prepping your nails to get the long lasting manicure!

BP Team

⭐ Christina ( Beyond Polish Team ) ⭐

I use regular nail polish-only OPI-and can go up to 4 weeks between fill in. I’m usually going at 2 1/2 -3 weeks.

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