Artificial Nails – Frequently Asked Questions

Since I became a Nail Technician, I get asked the same few questions by almost all of my clients. Why should I get artificial nails? What’s the difference between Gel and Acrylic? Do fake nails damage my real nail?

These are perfectly fair questions, and with all the different types of information out there, it’s really hard to find a clear answer. I absolutely love answering questions about my career and the industry. Being able to give someone information and teach them something new really makes me love my job! Sharing information like this is one of the main reasons I started Pretty Undone. So I’m going to answer a few frequently asked questions that I hear on a daily basis.

Why Should I get Artificial Nails?

Artificial nails embellish your hands and help to express your style. Just like a new hair colour, it shows your personality. Nail designs and nail art are primarily designed for artificial nails. There are so many different shapes and styles to choose from, so there’s something for everyone! Maybe you’re a nail biter; did you know that you can’t actually bite these nails off? Artificial provides the perfect barrier to stop nail biters. It’s something that I recommend to clients that are tying the kick the habit.

What’s the Difference Between Gel and Acrylic?

I would say about 80% of my clients didn’t know the difference between Gel and Acrylic before they came to see me. Most people only associate Gel with Gel polish or Shellac (a longer lasting alternative to regular nail polish). But in reality, both Gel and Acrylic are forms of artificial nails. I hear a lot of “I put my hand in a light” or “It was some kind of powder”.


The Gel (often clear) is applied with a brush and is cured under an Ultraviolet light for a certain period of time to harden. This is a self-levelling product, which means the product can move around on the nail if it’s left too long without curing. Normally, I’ll apply Gel to one nail, and while it’s curing I’ll apply it to a nail on the other hand, then keep alternating like that.


Acrylic nails are a combination of a liquid monomer and a powder polymer. The two products are combined using a specific ratio and consistency. The product then hardens on it’s own, as it’s exposed to the air. There are coloured polymers that can be used, or you can choose a clear polymer and add a polish on top of it. That’s usually a personal choice made by the Nail Tech or client. I would suggest getting a clear Acrylic with a Gel polish colour added afterwards. This way, when you come in for a fill the Nail Tech won’t have to take off the entire Acrylic nail just to change the colour. This reduces the amount of work and any possible damages to your natural nail.

Do Fake Nails Damage my Real Nail?

This is kind of a yes and no answer. Like anything, there’s always a risk. For example, dying or bleaching your hair. More often than not, it’s not the nails themselves that damages your natural nails. It’s usually a poorly trained Nail Technician that applying or taking off the nail improperly. That, or it’s when you pick and peel off your artificial nails instead of coming in to the salon to get them taken off. You could end up with very weak nails, which takes even longer to heal properly, if they can. But if the nails are put on/removed properly, you shouldn’t see any problems.

If your Acrylic or Gel nails are damaged, there is a chance that a gap can develop between the artificial nails and your natural nail. This is the perfect warm, moist environment that a nail infection likes to live in. To lower the risk of infection, follow these steps:

  • Go to salons that display a current license, and all Nail Technicians are properly certified by the state.
  • Make sure your Nail Tech sterilizes all tools used in your service
    properly and for the correct amount of time, as well as washing his or her hands between clients.
  • Come back for frequent fills and nail maintenance (Usually every 2-3 weeks).
  • Make sure you get a new nail file. Since you can’t sterilize nail files, they should always be a one time use, or given to you to take home.


Do you prefer Gel or Acrylic nails? Let me know!


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