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Solar Nails Vs Gel Nails – The Ultimate Guide

Are you trying to decide between getting solar nails or gel nails for your next manicure? Both solar nails and gel nails can provide beautiful, glossy results, but there are some important differences you should be aware of before choosing one over the other.

I’m going to talk you through solar nails vs gel nails, so you know how the manicures differ, and help you decide which types of nails is best for you.

Woman with solar nails at the nail salon

What Are Solar Nails?

Solar nails are a type of artificial nail enhancement, coined by Creative Nail Design. They are similar to acrylics, as solar nails are made of a monomer liquid and powder that is mixed together to form a hard coating on the nail, as a type of acrylic nail.

However, solar nails differ from acrylics in terms of their chemistry, curing process and overall look. Solar nails require an ultraviolet light for the curing process, unlike acrylic nails, and solar nails are more durable too.

This makes them more durable than traditional acrylics because the UV light helps to seal and protect the product from chipping or cracking. Because of this enhanced durability, solar nails tend to last longer than regular acrylics.

In terms of aesthetics, solar nails offer a glossy finish without needing additional products like top coats. The strength and shine that these nails provide is partially due to their gel-like quality when applied.

Once hardened by UV rays, users can achieve an even stronger surface with less breakage or splitting compared to other fake nail extensions styles.

Solar nails also come in various colors, shapes, sizes and finishes, so anyone can find the perfect style they’re looking for.

Solar nails work best on those who already have strong natural nails but may just want some extra length or shimmer.

With proper filing techniques during application as well as regular maintenance with manicures, it is possible to keep your solar nails in place for up to three weeks at a time (sometimes even longer).

How Are Solar Nails Applied To The Nails?

Solar nails are false nails that must be applied to your nail bed by a professional at a nail salon. The process begins with the application of liquid monomer to the natural nail bed.

This liquid helps to prepare the surface for an extended wearing time. Next, a customsized plastic tip or forms are applied over the individuals own fingernails, so they match its shape.

These plastic tips provide support for the solar nail once it is in place. The tip is then filled with acrylic powder before being cured under ultraviolet light so that it adheres firmly to your natural nails.

Once cured and hardened, finishing touches like buffing can be done to create a smooth texture on the false tips as well as along your cuticles for better long lasting results.

Lastly, polish may be applied just like regular manicures and pedicures but with much longer lasting results since you wont have any chipping or fading from everyday wear and tear.

Woman with a solar nails manicure with her hands on her face

Difference Between Solar Nails And Gel Nails?

Solar nails and gel nails are two popular types of artificial nail enhancements. Although the two are similar, there are distinct differences between them.

Solar nails use a powder-liquid mixture to create the acrylic overlay on your natural nail plate, whereas gel nails use a light-cured polymer that is applied over your natural nail plate.

The major difference between solar and gel nails is their composition. Solar nails typically contain acrylates copolymers, ethyl methacrylate monomers, and other chemical components like benzoyl peroxide or methyl ethyl ketone.

These chemicals make solar nails more rigid than natural fingernails when dry, which helps them last longer than regular manicures would without damage to the underlying nail bed.

On the other hand, gel nails contain photoinitiators that react to UV light instead of chemical activation like in solar techniques.

This light activation makes the harsh chemicals used in traditional acrylic systems unnecessary and instead gives you a healthier version of fake fingernails with minimal damage to your real ones underneath.

In terms of application method, both types can be applied as either extensions or overlays on top of existing finger tips.

However, most people opt for an overlay approach because it allows for greater flexibility when creating different looks with each application (like French manicure tip designs).

Since gels require UV exposure to properly set compared with solars that are air-dried by themselves after the liquid has been applied, another major distinction between solar and gels is how long they take to complete.

Gels usually need about 10 minutes under UV lamps for curing, versus just several seconds for solars due to their reliance on air drying.

The slower cure time means you’re also more likely to find lumps or imperfections in your finished product while using gels if you move too quickly through steps during applications such as filing or buffering before curing into place completely.

As far as maintenance goes – gels tend not require any maintenance besides trimming back every few weeks since they bond onto your natural nail much better than solars do.

So, no new products need be added for them to maintain their shapely look; whereas solar manicures may start lifting off within one week’s time, so periodic touch-ups will often be necessary.

So, all things considered – whether you choose solar or gel depends entirely on what kind of result you’re looking for: A sturdy but less complex solution (solar) or an intricate design requiring extra care but with a longer-lasting finish (gel).

Solar Nails Vs Gel Nails – Which Is Best?

If you’re trying to decide between solar nails and gel nails, you want to know which one is best. The answer is that it ultimately depends on your preferences.

Solar nails are a traditional type of artificial nail that provide an acrylic coating to your natural nails. On the other hand, gel nails involve a more advanced process that creates a hybrid combination of a resin and plastic, which is then cured with a special UV light.

When it comes to durability, most people prefer gel nails because they are much hardier than solar nails and last much longer.

They are also less susceptible to chipping and won’t lift from the natural nail as easily. However, solar nails have their own benefits as well.

They are a much quicker process and, depending on the salon and your nail technician, can offer a better quality finish.

Like with everything, it comes down to personal preference. If you want something quick and easy but may not last as long, solar nails are probably the best option for you.

If you want something that lasts longer and need more durable artificial nails, gel manicures may be the better choice, to layer over your real nails.

Woman with gel nails in a French manicure style

Solar Nails Vs Acrylic Nails – Pros And Cons

Solar nails and acrylic nails are both popular types of nail extensions that provide a durable, aesthetic look for people who want to add more decorative touches to their nails.

While both offer similar results, there are several differences in the application process and removal process that should be considered when deciding which type is best for you.

Acrylic nails are an artificial type of nail created by mixing liquid monomer with powder polymer.

This mixture forms gel-like drops that can be applied directly onto the natural nail using a brush or airbrush gun, creating a hardened layer with a natural look and feel that can last up to six weeks.

Acrylics are stronger than solar nails, but they require frequent maintenance due to the need to regularly fill in any areas where the acrylic has chipped or grown out.

Filing down acrylic is difficult since it hardens quickly and can cause damage if done incorrectly.

The process of removing acrylic nails also takes longer than solar removal, usually requiring acetone soak off or drills and buffers to remove all traces of the product from the natural nail plate.

Solar nails, on the other hand, use UV light to speed up the drying time of colored nail polish rather than introducing a foreign material directly onto your natural nail bed like acrylic does.

How Long Do Solar Nails Last?

Solar nails provide longer lasting color and protection than traditional nail polishes. Usually made from liquid acrylic, solar nails can last up to four weeks before needing to be reapplied or replaced.

The longevity of a set of solar nails depends on several factors, such as the quality of materials used, the skill level of your nail technician and how you take care of them at home.

The most important maintenance tip is proper cleaning and sanitizing, which will help extend the life span between fills as well as prevent bacterial growths that can lead to fungal infections.

When filling in solar nails, it is necessary to use a buffer or file over the old set first so that there is nothing left behind on the nail surface that could cause it not to adhere properly.

In general, a good way to ensure that your solar nails stay in good condition for as long as possible is by regularly moisturizing them with oil or lotion prescribed by your technician during regular monthly fills appointments. Taking precautionary measures now can end up saving you time and money in the long run.


There are many differences between solar nails and gel nails. Solar nails use a powder-liquid mixture, while gel nails use a light-cured polymer.

Solar nails can be applied as an extension or overlay and cured by air drying, while gels require UV lamps exposure to cure the resin-based formula into its solid form.

Gels provide much longer lasting results than solars, but also tend to require more upkeep to maintain their shapely look. Whether you choose solar or gel depends entirely on what kind of end result you’re looking for.

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