Gel Polish Vs Regular Polish | Which Is Best in 2023?

If you are not sure about the difference between Gel polish vs regular polish, perhaps you don’t feel ready for your big night out until your nails are painted fiery red.

Whatever your style, painted nails complete your look. Polished nails are your secret to looking well-put-together, but which polish will dress up your nails best – gel or regular?

Gel and regular polish each has lots going for them, but they also have drawbacks. Let’s settle this with a showdown with me!

Gel Polish Vs Regular Polish

Gel polish adheres better to nails than regular polish, making it a longer-lasting, chip-resistant option. However, gel polish is more complicated and time-intensive to apply and remove. Regular polish is more suitable than gel for people who frequently change their polish color or design.

gel polish vs regular polish infographic

Here is a table to quickly compare the two types of polishes:

When considering whether to go for gel or regular polish, you want to be sure you’ll pick the polish that delivers what you want. 

If you know what sets these polishes apart, it’ll be easier for you to choose between them. So, I’ll let gel and regular polish fight it out to see which deserves the title of Best Polish Ever.

How about I put these polishes head-to-head according to how long they’ve been around, how you use them, their results, staying power, perks, and risks? That should cover all the bases. 

Let’s start with me!

1. Gel Polish Vs Regular Polish: Origin

Regular polish has been around for ages, whereas gel polish is the hot new thing in nails. 

Gel Polish

a piece of bio gel polish

Gel polish tried to shake up nail beauty in the 80s, but it didn’t catch on because people weren’t sure how to use this unusual polish. Though, in the late 90s, gel polish made an impressive comeback. This time, formulations were improved, and we knew how to apply them, so gel polish became increasingly popular.

Regular Polish

Gel Polish Vs Regular Polish | Which Is Best in 2023?

People were already painting their nails (with mixtures of beeswax, gelatin, egg whites, and veggie dyes) in 3 000 BC. However, we have Revlon to thank for starting nail polish’s evolution into the lacquer we now love when they introduced a cream-colored polish in 1932. 

2. Application

Both gel and regular polish are painted onto the nails. Regular polish then sets as it dries, whereas gel polish needs to be cured to go from liquid to solid. Applying regular polish is also simpler and speedier, and gel polish needs more time and skill to get right. 

Gel Polish

A special polish is painted onto nails and then exposed to UV or LED light to cure or set. The curing process makes the polish get hard as nails in a flash.

Regular Polish

A coat or two (or three) of polish is painted onto nails and then fanned or left to airdry.  

3. Results

Gel polish and regular polish produce similar results, with your choice of a high-gloss or matte finish. Both polishes also give you the option of either a solid color or nail art in any color you can dream of. The difference between the polishes is in how long the results last. 

Gel Polish

Expect to rock your gel polish for two to three weeks if you are lucky. The secret behind these long-lasting results is a long chain of molecules that gives gel polish unbeatable strength and flexibility to cling onto your nails for days and days without chipping or peeling. Once this polish has cured, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon! 

Regular Polish 

Regular polish lasts a few days to a week at best. At worst, it can start chipping and peeling away in hours (…or even seconds if you’re not careful). You can help regular polish stay put by applying it thinly, followed by a top coat layer.  

4. Ease of Removal

Regular polish comes off easily. On the flip side, gel polish needs a bit of a push before it will budge. 

Gel Polish

removing gel polish

You need to buff off the top coat before taking a good soak in acetone to remove the gel polish. The polish will only soften if it’s in contact with acetone for 10 minutes.

If it’s not getting softer, you might haven’t buffed the top coat deep enough. Most gel polish formulations need their surface buffed for the acetone to work.

An interesting fact is that you can also remove your gel polish with sugar at home.

Regular Polish

removing regular polish

Swipe a cotton swab moistened with acetone- or non-acetone-based nail polish remover over your nails, and you’ll wipe away all traces of polish in seconds.  

5. Pros And Cons

It’s crunch time! Gel and regular polish have a final chance to outshine each other as we look at these polish’s top 3 benefits (and drawbacks).

a person that is choosing between gel polish and regular polish

Gel Polish

These are gel polish’s major perks:

  1. It’s long-lasting. You get up to triple the wear compared with regular polish. 
  2. It’s chip-, scratch-, smudge-, and peel-proof. After the polish has set, nothing will spoil your manicure! 
  3. It’s odor-free. Forget about headache-triggering fumes! 

And here’s what counts against gel polish:

  1. It needs UV or LED light to set. This is a double downer: 1) you need a special lamp to use gel polish, and 2) the lamp emits potentially harmful rays. Protect yourself by wearing fingerless sun-safe gloves or applying full-spectrum sunscreen to your hands 30 minutes before you go under the lamp if you want an extra layer of protection.
  2. It needs lengthy exposure to drying acetone to remove. Always generously apply luxurious hand cream after your acetone soak. 
  3. It requires more skills and also takes longer to apply than regular polish.

Regular Polish 

Here’s what makes regular polish stand out

  1. Anyone with a steady hand can apply it. 
  2. It can airdry. No special equipment is needed – though a cool fan can help the polish dry faster.  
  3. It’s quick and easy to remove. Nothing stops you from switching up your nail look when the inspiration strikes. 

…And these are the downsides to regular polish:

  1. It lasts a week max. And it chips, peels, and smudges easily. 
  2. It comes with a strong odor. 
  3. Some polishes can contain toxic ingredients. Look for formulations free from the most troublesome five additions: formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde resin, and camphor.
  4. If you leave the regular polish on your nails too long (more than 3 weeks – 1 month), it will stain your nails.

The Bottom Line

Now that we’ve weighed old-favorite regular polish against new-kid-on-the-block gel polish, which is the winner? It depends on what you look for in nail polish. 

Gel polish is your nail hero if you want a polish that lasts (and looks ever-flawless). However, make regular polish your go-to if you like experimenting with new nail colors or trends every few days.

I hope you have had your pick for the weekend via this article comparing Gel Polish vs Regular Polish in great detail!