Gel Polish or Nail Powder: Understanding the Differences

Today, we have many choices when it comes to making our nails look fabulous. Even better, most of the choices allow the nail polish to last for days or even weeks at a time. Two popular polish options are gel and powder. Both give similar results, but each has its pros and cons. Follow along as we discuss the differences between gel polish and nail powder.


Let’s look at how polish, gel, and powder are applied in the sections below.

Gel Polish Application

Gel nail polish is painted onto the nail in the same way as regular nail polish. At a salon, clients place their hands under small blue lights after the gel polish is applied. The ingredients in gel polish activate under the light, causing them to quickly harden and adhere to the person’s nails.

Nail Powder Application

Nail powder—also called a “dip” manicure—cures without a light. The nail is dipped into a colored powder after applying a primer. The dip is repeated in layers until the desired effect is achieved. A coating is then painted on top of the dipped nails, curing it all into place.

The Results

Both types of polishes deliver fantastic, long-lasting results. They vary slightly in the following ways.

Gel Polish Results

Gel polish, which is sometimes referred to as a “no-chip” manicure, lasts anywhere from two to three weeks when a high-quality gel polish is used and the nails are treated well. Past the two-to-three-week mark, the gel nail polish starts to lift. Ripping it off seems tempting but doing so will rip the nail. Have your manicurist remove the polish when it’s time.

Nail Powder Results

The dip manicure lasts much longer than a no-chip manicure. The nail powder is like a glue resin, so once it cures, it’ll stay for a long time. While it’ll come off eventually, it can last up to five weeks.

The Removal

All good things must come to an end, and that includes your lovely manicure. Removal is the same process for both gel and powder—the only difference is how long each process takes.

The nails are first roughed up with a nail file to remove the polish’s shine. Then, they are soaked in acetone until the polish easily scrapes off. Gel nail polish is removed by rubbing the nails with cotton balls soaked in acetone, and it takes about ten minutes. Nail powder is removed when the nails get soaked in acetone for twenty minutes.

To sum it up, both types use the same removal process, but powder takes longer to remove and requires a direct soak.

The differences between gel polish and nail powder are minimal. Both are great options for a beautiful manicure that lasts. Choose the one that suits your lifestyle best, according to how much time you have for salon visits.

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Written by Logan Voss

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