What Is Gel Powder? Everything You Need To Know In 2023

If you don’t know what gel powder is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Hearing about it for the first time might lead you to ask questions such as; ‘is it the latest trend?’; ” do all salons use gel powder?’, or “has gel powder been used during my manicures without my knowledge?’. Read on to find out the answers related to gel powder!

What Is Gel Powder?

The term gel powder is generally used to refer to acrylic. This is because clear acrylic looks like gel. Additionally, some manufacturers may name their products gel powder or powder gel because an inert powder is used. Here, the product is a gel cured by UV lamps instead of a powder.

Gel powder is hard to come by in many salons. But when you see it in salons, you might be tempted to get this exclusive product. But is it worth the hype? Read on to learn more.

Basics Of Gel Powder

Considering that you found yourself on this page, it is safe to assume that you are interested in learning what gel powder is. Well, brace yourself because the answer is more surprising than you think.

Gel powder … nothing. What I mean by ‘nothing’ is that gel powder does not exist. But how can this be, you ask? Well, to understand this concept, we need to take a look at the science of matter.

Most of us are familiar with the three basic states of matter; liquid, solid, and gas. But did you know that another form exists called colloids? Colloids are created when various kinds of substances combine. For example, gels are a type of colloidal substance that is a result of a combination of a solid and a liquid. Because of this, their properties can range from weak and wobbly to hard and firm.

Their property type is never a true solid, so they are classified as semi-solid. Powder, on the other hand, consists of fine particles. How do we get the particles to be so small? You can use different methods to achieve this, such as grinding, crushing, or disintegrating a solid substance. Ultimately, states of matter stay consistent. Gels are gels, and powders are powders. Therefore, the two forms of matter cannot coexist.

Why Is Gel Powder Called Gel Powder?

So what about gel powder sold in salons? Well, since the term ‘gel powder’ is an oxymoron, the term used refers to something else -acrylic. Acrylic nails consist of a two-part process. First, you need your liquid (monomer) and powder (polymer). Acrylic is formed by combining these two substances. The result?; A paste-like substance that can be shaped and molded into the desired shape.

Salons sometimes use the term gel powder to describe clear acrylic powder. Clear acrylic powder resembles true gel, which is clear in color. However, as most salons use acrylic that has a cloudy tint, clients are unaware that acrylic can be transparent. For those who need more convincing that gel powder is not, in fact, gel, it is best to look at the curing process.

Curing is the process of hardening or toughening the polish, which is what sets gel and acrylic nails apart. Remember, gel nails have to be cured using a UV lamp. As gel powder is not cured, it cannot be gel. Another reason why salons may call a product ‘gel powder’ is because of the manufacturers. Some manufacturers name their products gel powder or powder gel; therefore, salons may use the term gel powder to refer to these products.

In these products, an inert powder is often used with UV gel. However, it is essential to realize that it cannot be classified as a powder as the adhesive factor is a gel  (proven by the curing of the UV light). Therefore, regardless of the reasoning behind the name ‘gel powder,’ it is important to realize that its name is misleading and it is not, in fact, gel powder.

Should You Get Gel Powder

So, should you get gel powder? While we won’t tell you not to get it, we certainly won’t recommend it. Why? It’s not because of the end result but rather because of the marketing schemes used on clients. As you know, gel powder is often used in salons.

However, gel powder is not gel powder but, in fact, acrylic. Because of the name, many salons dupe clients into thinking they are getting a completely different product. And not only do they think they are getting a different product, but they also believe they are getting one with gel.

What does this ultimately mean? It means that the salons mark up the price because clients think they are getting gel when they are actually not. If you are looking to get gel nails, make sure it is true gel by confirming that it cures using UV lamps. However, opt for cheaper, alternative nails rather than gel powder if you want acrylic nails.

How Long Does Gel Powder Last?

Seeing as gel powder is acrylic, the correct way to phrase this question is ‘how long does acrylic last’? Acrylic nails can last up to 6-8 weeks with the proper care. It is advised to routinely go for fill-ins every 2-3 weeks. Not only will routinely filling in your nails help keep your manicure looking neat and fresh, but it will also help the acrylic to last longer.

However, be sure not to do too much heavy lifting or expose your nails to potential bumps. Acrylic nails are notorious for cracking under pressure. One bump, and it’s off to the salon again. On the other hand, you can expect gel nails to last differently compared to acrylic nails.


The science of matter tells us that gel and powder can not coexist simultaneously. So if you happen to see gel powder in salons, it is more than likely acrylic disguised with a different name. However, UV Gel Powders can be sold, but as the adhesive factor is a gel, it will still be classified as such.