Acrylics, Gels, Polygels, oh my…

Many of my clients get confused as to the name of treatment they want when booking, so hopefully this article will help to clarify things.


Some clients think acrylics are the false tips that are glued on to the nail art the start of treatment.

But actually it’s the liquid and powder mix that is used to build the nail using either tips or forms. It is self drying and doesn’t require a uv or led lamp.

Tips are glued on then cut and filed and acrylic is put on top of this and natural nail to form the nail extension.

Forms are odd shaped pieces of sticky stiff paper, or something similar, that are put under the free edge of the nail and around the finger tip to create a cone like base on which the tech can build and shape a nail.

Acrylic powders come in many colours and glitters so there is no need to have coloured polish on top.

Extensions or Overlays

Extensions are created to give extra length to the nail.

Overlays just cover the natural nail and do not create extra length.

Both can be good for helping to grow your natural nails.


Here’s where things can get quite confusing…

And this is because you can build a nail extension with gel, and you can paint your nails with gel, not the same gel though!

Gel Nails are built with hard or builder gel, uv gel, polygel, acrygel to name but a few. It is applied in a similar way to acrylic. Applied in layers to build structure but each layer must be cured (dried/set) under a uv or led lamp.

Gel Polish is thicker and stronger than normal nail polish and with care can last approx. 3 weeks. Has to be cured under lamp to dry.

Shellacâ„¢ is a trademark / brand name and a mixture of gel and normal polish which can last around 2 weeks. Has to be cured under lamp to dry.

Gelish® is a brand that produce most things gel as in builder gel, Polygel and gel polish.

Hopefully I’ve pretty much covered everything but I’ll update if and when I learn of new or other treatments. And of course drop me a line if you’d like to ask me any questions.

Happy Nails!

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