Gel Nail Polish Pros and Cons

Gel nail polish services are offered in pretty much every nail salon around the world. It’s a monthly, sometimes weekly, routine for many nail art enthusiasts. 

There’s always been a lot of speculation on what gel nail polish is made of and whether gel nail polish is good or bad for nails. There are all types of rumors and myths, good and bad, surrounding gel nail polish.

But here at ORLY, we deal in first-rate nail polish and honesty. So let’s take a look at gel nail polish pros and cons. 

What This Article Covers:

The Pros Of Gel Nail Polish

The hype around gel nail polish is not unfounded. There are quite a few types of nail polish but there is no denying that gel nail polish is one of the most loved. 

The Pros Of Gel Nail Polish

Looks And Feels Good

Gel nail polish was made with the intention to mimic natural nails. From a timeless French manicure to something on the wild side, you can achieve it with gel nail polish. 

For many who do their nails regularly, there is a clear connection between good-looking nails and a great day. It’s a self-care ritual for many people because of the way it looks and makes them feel. 

At the end of the day, nothing beats feeling good in your own skin. Anyone who gets their nails done can agree that even if you are not having a great day, it helps you feel like a million bucks. 


Gel nails look natural and are very customizable. The only thing that could make them any better is if your gel nail look lasted. Oh wait, it does. 

Gel nail polish lasts on average 2 to 3 weeks.  That’s almost 3 weeks where you can completely forget about nail upkeep, while feeling your best. 

Quick Dry Time

One of the biggest differences between gel nail polish and regular nail polish is in how they dry. While regular nail polish dries when it interacts with the air around you, gel nail polish is set or cured under a UV or LED light.

Without the polymerization process from the UV/LED light reacting with gel nail polish, the gel nail polish will stay in its liquid form.  This gives you more time to do nail art and to experiment with different types of nail polish finishes

When you are done, pop your gel nails under a UV or LED light to cure the polish. It takes an average of 2 minutes and after, your nails are smooth, hard, and dry. No extra waiting for all the nail polish to dry. No awkward hand movements to prevent smudging. 

When gel nail polish is dry, it’s basically like armor. 

Always Looks Fresh

Gel nails look like natural nails but like acrylic, it’s super strong. There will be minimal chipping from daily wear and tear. You can carry on with your usual daily routine without having to stress about the effect it could have on your nails. 

This is one for the nail polish vs nail enamel debate. Gel also doesn’t dull or fade. Until you have them removed, your nails will look the same as they did the day you left the nail salon   

Endless Nail Looks

Because of the quick dry time, gel nail polish can be used to create endless nail art looks. They are easy to layer and there will be no long wait for a bottom layer to dry only to later discover it never did. No smudging and no limits. 

Like acrylic nail polish, you can add or extend length with gel nail polish too. Where with acrylic you build with an acrylic bead, with gel you can use a UV/LED light to adhere a nail form or tips to your nails for the perfect nail shape and length. 

Gel Polish vs Nail Polish

And while there are differences between nail polish and nail paint, you can use non-toxic acrylic paint to add extra depth to your nail art.  There are many nail artists that create beautiful, intricate nail art that has us wondering is nail polish paint because of how detailed the looks can be. 


Gel nail polish acts like a liquid acrylic but where acrylic dries into a rigid form, gel nail polish dries to a much more flexible form. 

It’s one of the reasons gel nails look more like natural nails. The flexibility also means less damage to your nail bed. 

Acrylics can cause bleeding under your nail when it hooks or knocks against something. But because the gel is more flexible, it gives instead of tearing at your nail bed. 

Easy To Use

Unlike acrylic, gel nail polish comes in a bottle with a normal nail polish applicator. All you need is a UV/LED light and you can create all the looks your heart desires. We also have vegan gel nail polish for those wondering if gel nail polish is vegan

Most beauty outlets sell DIY gel nail polish kits. At ORLY, we have our Gel Essentials for pros and amateurs alike. 

The Cons Of Gel Nail Polish

We can’t forget that nothing is ever perfect. It would be great to believe gel nail polish has no cons but unfortunately, there are some cons to gel nail polish. 

You Need Breaks

Our nails receive oxygen and nutrients through our blood system so you can’t constanly suffocate your nails with polish. Your natural nails do need air to stay strong. If you don’t take breaks between manicures, over a long period of time, your nails will suffer. 

Nails can also be thinned from the nail prep process. Every time your nails are buffed before the gel is applied, the nail layers are damaged.

Nails need a week's break for every 8 weeks of manicures.  During this break apply the Best Nail Strengthener Polish, a protein treatment to help strengthen your nails. 

For severely damaged nails, it might be time to let them grow out completely. It takes around 4 to 6 months for nails to grow out from cuticle to tip. During this time, you can support your nails with Nailtrition treatment to get them back in peak shape. 

The Cons Of Gel Nail Polish

Acetone Soak

Because gel nail polish is so long-lasting, breaking the bond between the gel and your nail requires an acetone bath. Gel nails need to be soaked for around 10 minutes. This can cause drying, peeling, and nail brittleness. 

Is it Good Gel Nail Polish

Our Genius Remover is a great alternative. It’s formulated to remove gel, lacquer, and hybrids without drying out your nails. Nailtrition is also great for nail recovery after removing gel.

Another option is a peel-off base coat like our Easy-Off Gel Basecoat. This allows you to cut down the acetone soak time by 5 minutes. After a quick soak, just push the gel nail polish right off your nail. No need for a long soak or buffing to remove the residual gel. 

Is Gel Nail Polish bad or good

UV/LED Light

Gel nail polish doesn’t dry like regular nail polish. Instead, it is cured under a UV or LED lamp. It takes on average 2 minutes to cure. Two minutes isn’t a long time to be exposed to UV rays but manicure lights are 2 minutes of intense UV exposure.

There is no real way to avoid using UV or LED lamps when getting a Gel manicure but you can avoid UV/LED lamps that are not up to standard. We offer Professional LED Gel Lamp, a safe and easy LED lamp with adjustable light intensity settings to protect even the most sensitive skin.

pros and cons of gel nail polishes

Also, consider using a broad spectrum SPF before your nail appointment. There are also UV shield gloves available specifically for manicures. While UV and LED lights are not dangerous to use, it’s always a good idea to protect your skin.

Salons Are Expensive

In the United States, the average gel manicure can be anywhere between $45 to $100. This includes removal, nail prep, treatment, nail art, and tips. While not too much as a once-off cost, if you are visiting a nail salon a couple of times a month it can quickly add up. 

what are pros and cons of gel nail polish

If you are looking for a way to save some money, try our At-Home Gel Nail Color Application Starter Kit. Gel nail polish is easy to use and once you get a hang of it, you could be creating whatever looks you want.

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