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Acrylic or Gel? Choosing What’s Best for Your Nails

BY: Editors | Jul 8, 2015
Acrylic or Gel? Choosing What’s Best for Your Nails

Whether your favorite Milwaukee pastimes include propelling the 16-person Pedal Tavern to various city bars, kayaking down the Milwaukee River, or catching foul balls at Miller Park, chances are, your nails frequently take a beating. Luckily, artificial nails exist, and there are plenty of Milwaukee nail salons that adeptly apply the chip-resistant finger armor.

But which type of nail service best suits your lifestyle? Here’s a quick guide to help you select the perfect polished look.

Acrylic Nails

For decades, acrylic nails have been toughening up and lengthening natural nails, relying on some complex chemistry to do so. With acrylics, the science starts as soon as the technician combines an acrylic powder (a polymer) and a special liquid (a monomer) and brushes it carefully onto the nail. The combination of these two substances with the air sets off a chain reaction, in which the monomers link up to form an expanding network of polymer chains, resulting in a solid, semi-flexible shield over the natural nail.

This process gives nails an impressively strong, shiny, natural-looking coating that stays in place for several weeks or until it’s removed. When women want to add length, technicians can attach tips—thin plastic nail-shaped add-ons—before covering the entire surface with enough acrylic to make the border between real nail and tip invisible.

Nail techs can also work with removable forms, flexible sheets of aluminum or coated paper that are curved under the tip of the natural nail. The nail tech then “sculpts” an extension simply by brushing the acrylic compound out past the natural nail and onto the form. Once the acrylic has dried, the form is removed while the longer, smoother tip remains, creating a surface that can be buffed or shaped just like a natural nail.

The technicians at Polished Nail Bar Milwaukee are particularly adept at applying acrylic nails. As an added bonus, clients at this chic black-and-white space can sip BYOB drinks while techs work.

Gel Nails

Gel nails practically became a beauty sensation overnight, and it’s easy to see why. The durable nails are quick to apply, dry to a mirror-like shine, and stay chip-free for up to two weeks, no matter how often you thumb-wrestle for the last cheese curd. They come in a wide variety of colors and tend to look more natural than acrylics, though they’re not as durable.

Gel nails follow a similar process of polymerization, except that this chemical reaction is most often triggered by light instead of air. To apply gel nails, technicians simply brush the gel solution onto fingernails or toenails, then clients stick their hands or feet into a special, low-watt UV lamp that triggers the polymer reaction and causes the gel to harden.

Residents of Milwaukee’s Upper East Side flock to Nail Bar Milwaukee for its top-notch gel mani-pedis and its emphasis on sanitary practices. The nail bar even insists on using hand files, buffers, and orangewood sticks only once before they discard them, though they do save them in boxes for repeat customers.