Is Gel more Expensive or Cheaper than Acrylic Nails?

Artificial nail enhancements have continued to evolve, giving rise to several manicure options. Also, acrylic and gel nails are today’s two most popular manicure types for their perfect finish and durability.

While both manicures have their merits and demerits, cost remains a critical metric for differentiation in today’s economically conscious society.

So this article will answer the question—is gel more expensive or cheaper than acrylic nails? Let’s get started!

Is Gel More Expensive or Cheaper Than Acrylic Nails?

In general, gel nails are more expensive than acrylic nails, costing, on average, $15 to $45, which is about 15-20% above the cost of acrylic nails. Acrylic extensions cost an average of $25-30. However, the price for a gel or acrylic manicure depends on your location or area and what is obtainable.

is gel more expensive or cheaper than acrylic nails

The cost for a gel or acrylic manicure depends on your location or area, the type of salon, and what is obtainable. Even though gel nails cost more, they do not require further attention or touch-ups down the line, unlike acrylic nails. 

Additionally, some salons charge for gel nail removal or incorporate removal charges in your next appointment, usually about $20 because of its complexity.

In other words, acrylic nails are cheaper than gel nails, and as a bonus, they last longer to give you greater economic utility. However, your nail length, style, color, and request for extra designs may inflate how much you pay for a gel or acrylic manicure regardless.

How Much Does a Gel Manicure Cost?

a person curing gel polish under uv light

Your location or salon grade can influence how much your gel manicure costs. Generally, gel manicures cost between 15-20 percent higher than regular and acrylic manicures, with a baseline of about $25. 

Since gel manicures are unique in the application, especially with UV curing, they require special care when removing them. As a result, the removal process is as crucial as the application to prevent damage to your natural nails. Some salons charge a separate removal fee of about $10-$20 or incorporate it into your next manicure appointment, thus adding to your overall bill. 

The two-week limited staying power for gel nails also makes them more expensive than acrylic nails. Still, with proper application and care, you can extend the duration for up to three weeks without chipping and save more money. Some salons may give you a discount if you are a regular client. However, gel manicures cost differently depending on which type you apply.

Here is a table showing different types of gel manicure and their cost.

Gel NailsCost of Application
Gel polish manicures $25-$55 
Gel nail extensions $45-$100 
Polygel manicures$50-$120 

Gel nail costs vary depending on the city, state, nail salon, and technician. This is an overall spin-off from the cost of living obtainable in a given area. For instance, major cities like New York can have gel nails costing from $30 to $50 and more.

Factors Influencing the Price of Gel Nails

Here is a list of some of the factors that add to the high and varied cost of gel nails:

  • The type or grade of nail salon also includes the skill or expertise of the nail technician.
  • The city or state in which the nail salon is located.
  • Whether or not you are removing an old gel manicure.
  • The type of nail art or design you want on your gel nails.
  • Additions of other accessories like stones, etc.

Cost of Gel Manicures in the US

The United States is huge, with each state having a different cost of living and economic scale. So gel manicure prices vary according to location and current living costs. 

For instance, South Dakota offers the most affordable average gel manicure at $17. Nevada offers one of the most expensive appointments at $54 on average. As a result, manicure costs are subject to local competition and living costs. 

To buttress location’s influence on gel nail costs, here is a table showing the average price of gel nails across some states in the United States. 

States/LocationAverage Cost Range for Gel Nails
New York $30-$50
Massachusetts $25-$45 
Pennsylvania $30-50
New Jersey $25-$35
California$30-$50

Hint: If you find a manicure procedure too expensive, there is the alternative of learning to do it yourself. 

a nail technician doing an acrylic nail set

How Much Do Acrylic Nails Cost?

Acrylic nails are much cheaper than gel nails. Acrylic nails cost at a salon is around $25-30. However, the price varies according to the skill of the nail technician, color, and extra designs. For instance, pink or white acrylic nails can cost as much as $50-$60, and super creative or fancy designs like holiday-themed nails can cost up to $200-$120. 

You may also spend extra money for weekly filling depending on how fast your nails grow and how long you wear the manicure. Some salons will charge an average of $10-$20 for acrylic removal, depending on the type of salon.

How To Minimize the Costs of Acrylic Nails

Even though acrylic nails are cheaper than gel nails, you could overspend if you are not careful.  

Here is a list of things you can do to save money on acrylic nails:

  • Do your acrylic nails by yourself.
  • Do your nails at a beauty school as they offer lower rates since trainees end up doing the manicure.
  • Look out for salons with lower rates, especially those located on the outskirts of town. 

Why Are Gel and Acrylic Nails Priced Differently?

Both manicure types are differently priced because they are made of different materials. Gel nails are more expensive because they are made of hybrid materials to provide an improved version of long-lasting nails with better shine through the introduction of photoinitiators and UV or LED curing lamps to save and reduce turnaround time. 

Conversely, acrylic nails are cheaper because they are made from more affordable materials—a mixture of liquid monomers and solid polymers. The quick application method for acrylic nails and air drying in place of  UV or LED lamps for curing lend credence to its affordability over gel nails. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you know the price or cost difference between gel and acrylic nails, you can make more informed decisions on which manicure to wear. However, if you are still in doubt, a nail technician can help you choose the proper manicure for your budget and occasion. As a bonus, most nail technicians do not charge for consultation.