Artificial vs. Natural: Which Nail Style Is Right for You?

Nails may seem like a small part of the overall appearance, but they can say a lot about your personal style.

Grand Central explored the benefits and shortcomings of both natural and artificial nail styles, because we know you’ve been enticed by both just as we have.

The decision is solely based on personal preference, and it’s yours, but weighing the pros and cons might effect your decision.


Acrylic nails are popular within all-artificial nail enhancements.

This look is achieved by applying a mixture of acrylic powder and liquid. Once the product hardens it can be transformed into any shape desired.


  • Acrylic nails are an excellent choice for those with weak nails. The acrylic paste allows for the natural nail to grow in length and gain strength because they are not exposed to the outside environment. This is a great option for nail biters.
  • Acrylic nails last longer than gel nails and are usually cheaper, too!
  • If an acrylic nail breaks off, it is possible to fix it at home. If the nail has a clean break it can be reapplied with nail glue to guarantee it lasts until the next trip to the salon.
  • Acrylic nails hold polish much longer than the natural nail. The durability prevents unwanted chips in the color.
  • After applying acrylics, the nail has a smooth, even surface to work with. Flawless nail art is much easier to achieve with this foundation.


  • Although acrylics can strengthen nails while they are on, they can be very damaging to the natural nail once removed. This is due to its firm adherence to the nail. Acrylics will weaken natural nails over time.
  • It is very noticeable when acrylics grow out. It is necessary to get them filled every two to four weeks, becoming a frequent expense.
  • Acrylics are an artificial enhancement and tend to look unnatural. If you wish for a natural look to your nails, it is crucial to find a skilled nail technician.
  • Some removal techniques can be slightly painful. Just because it is time for a new set of nails, does not mean the acrylics are ready to come off.
  • The chemicals used during the application process may pose an issue to sensitive clients.


Gel nails provide the strength of acrylics with a more natural appearance.

The application process starts with a base coat, followed by a color and finished with a topcoat, hardening each layer with UV light exposure.

Gel can be used to lengthen the natural nail and is also referred to as shellac.


  • Gel nails appear more natural and glossier than acrylic nails or natural nails with polish.
  • The application process is much faster than acrylics. Each layer of gel sets within two to three minutes under a UV light.
  • Gel nails are durable and can last up to two weeks with no chipping.
  • Gel nails are easier to remove than acrylics. Shellac can be removed through a quick soak in acetone and thicker gels can be filed off if the soaking method does not work.
  • Application of gel nails does not require strong chemicals that can produce irritating fumes.


  • This is generally the most expensive form of artificial nails, costing up to $40.
  • The frequent use of gel on nails can result in damage to the natural nail bed. Similar to acrylics the application process ensures that they are long lasting, but this can be an issue when it comes to removal.
  • It is fairly complicated to repair a break in a gel manicure at home. Unlike acrylics, gel nails are less likely to have a clean break and often have a shattering effect.
  • Achieving a gel manicure at home requires a UV light, resulting in an additional expense for at home nail care.


Natural nails can be a blessing and a curse.

If natural nails are properly taken care of they can look sleek, simple and clean. However, nails that are not maintained can look dingy and dull.


  • Rocking natural nails can save a lot of money. The monthly expense at the salon can be completely eliminated with this method.
  • Polish can be applied and changed with no issue, allowing for versatility. There are few commitments with natural nails because polish can be taken off as easily as it was put on.
  • Nail beds will be much stronger. Artificial nails provide a false sense of strength and leave the nails damaged long term. If your natural nails are lacking durability there are plenty of ways to fix this naturally.


  • Without an artificial barrier, natural nails are much more susceptible to breakage. Quite often, natural nails will break off if they get too long and cuticles will start to tear.
  • Nail polish does not stay chip-free for as long on natural nails. Chipped nail polish can be very frustrating, especially when it was only applied a few hours prior.
  • If natural nails are cut, broken or too short, it can result in major discomfort. The skin underneath the nails is supposed to be protected and is very sensitive when exposed.