Hard Gel Vs. Soft Gel Vs. Gel Polish: What’s the Difference?

Hard Gel Vs. Soft Gel Vs. Gel Polish
Hard gel polishes are durable, while soft gels tend to be more flexible & Gel Polish provide a glossy finish .

The application of nail polish has changed a lot over the course of the years. There have been so many developments, and most people are not crazy about those glossy, red polishes that will chip in just a few days. For the time being, we have new technologies, and the most important fact about the gel technology manicure on the nails is that they are used to make nail extensions that last much longer. And most of these gel polishes are very stubborn and don’t get off even with acetone.

Gel nail paints are classified into hard gels, soft gels, and gel polishes. Acrylic nails are another term that is used extensively, but they are not all that preferable. For gel polishes, there are several things to consider, and most people are highly concerned and confused about what to get. And in this article, we’ll give you a clear-cut comparison of hard gel vs. soft gel vs. gel polish, and this might help you understand what’s better. Hard gel is used on top of the nails, and they are supposed to add to the length of the nails.

Hard gels are first laid on the hand and then shaped as such. The soft gel works in the same way, and it will also add length to the hand. And the main difference between these two is that the soft gel will come off the hand when you soak it in 100% acetone. And for the hard gel, you have to file the nails to get it off. And lastly, there is the gel polish. They last longer than regular nail paints and apply like regular nail paint. For gel polish, you only need a UV lamp, but it will not add to the length of the nails. They are also available in different colors, like conventional nail polish.

When you are getting your nails done for the first time, we recommend going for the gel polish; this will give you an insight into the work done in the salon and allow you to fully understand the work of the artist. Gel polishes will be an upgrade for you from your regular gel polish. These polishes perform much better than regular polishes and last much longer. And then, when you are feeling a little bit adventurous, go with the soft gel polishes.

They also come in several colors, and they’ll give you the all-time look of naturally long lashes. When doing a nail at the salon, they tend to customize the nails and look absolutely gorgeous. These are not as sturdy as our next contestant, but they are a safe option. If you don’t like your nails, you can soak them in acetone and remove them with just the acetone.

And with hard gel, you might have to go with a long-term commitment and remember that you have to visit the salon more than once just for your nails. The hard gel polishes are done mostly by professionals, and professionals also take them off. They will be filling the nails with an electrical filling machine, and the nails will be taken off in pieces. And these nails tend to last well. That’s why you go on for so long, but they do last a long time, and there are fewer chances of accidents and parching. So the hard gel is absolutely flawless when it comes to working.

What exactly is hard gel?

What Exactly Is Hard Gel

Hard gel is similar to acrylic nails but is way less stubborn. They are mostly made with monomers, resulting in a long polymer chain when exposed to UV. So, in their liquid state, they are just monomers, and when exposed to UV light, they transform into the hard polymer gels that are now cured. And thus, they have a polymeric reaction. There are also some other ingredients in the gel that will help it become more sturdy. They are resistant to yellowing and are workable. They are used in conjunction with UV rays or LED lights. When the gel is first applied to the nails, it forms a tacky, hard film that will be cured with lights later. Here are some features of the hard gel:

  • These are odorless, and they are easy to use.
  • The hard gels are not easy to penetrate, and they will create a strong layer on top of the nails.
  • The hard gels have to be filled with an electric filing machine, and acetone will not work on them.
  • They are non-yellowing and easy to handle.
  • The hard gels are available as pre-mixes, so there’s no need to add different features.
  • Even right out of the jar, the hard gels are perfect.
  • The hard gels will not get stained and are perfect to be cleaned and redone.
  • These gels are hypoallergenic and safe for pregnant women.
  • These will last for three to four weeks.
  • Hard gels cannot be removed at home and will damage the natural nails.
  • They are very similar to acrylic nails, and they might damage the actual nails.

What is soft gel?

What Is Soft Gel

Soft gel polishes are another form of gel polish that will also help shape the fingernails. They tend to work well on the nails and enable their length. The soft gel polishes are not used for very long nails, but they are perfect when you want medium- to moderate-length nails. Hard gels are the way to go if you want very long fake nails. Soft gel polishes are mostly porous and can be removed with 100% acetone. The gel polishes are less heavy, and they resemble regular nails greatly. These polishes have a nice contour and can be shaped to almost any shape. The soft gel polishes can be removed at home, making them perfect for those who are trying gel polishes for the first time. Some of the features of the soft gel are:

  • These don’t stay as long as the hard gel and have a chance of staining.
  • The soft gel polishes will last for seven to ten days maximum.
  • They are also called “soak-off gel,” as they are removed with 100% acetone.
  • The soft gels’ strengths are in the medium range.
  • They are cured for 30 seconds in a UV or LED light.
  • Soft gels are porous, so the chances of staining from nail polishes are very frequent.
  • These are not entirely resistant to chemicals.
  • The soft gels have a glossy finish that lasts for a week.
  • These are not suitable when you want a long-lasting length.

What is gel polish?

What Is Gel Polish

The gel polishes are similar to conventional nail polishes, but instead of air, you will need UV light for the polishes to harden. They are also made from monomers and oligomers. Typically, they are in a liquid state, and when cured under a UV lamp, the gel polishes harden and form a film over the nails. They are not supposed to be for the length, but you might like them for the finishes and colors they offer. Also, the chipping problem with regular polishes is absent from these sorts of polishes. These polishes can be soaked off with acetone, and it doesn’t take as much time as the soft gel polishes. Here are some of the features of the gel polishes:

  • They are easy to take off, and acetone would be the perfect option for them.
  • They are available as a pre-mix, as well as with pigment added.
  • They are similar to regular nail polishes rather than soft or hard gel.
  • They do not add length to the nails.
  • These are highly porous, and the film-forming polymer on top is a very common and regular film.
  • They do not damage the nails in any way, and you can use them at home by using a UV or an LED light.
  • They have the fastest application method and are perfect for removing at home.
  • They last for two to three weeks.
  • They have tons of colors and shades.

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Hard gel vs. soft gel vs. gel polish

Hard Gel Vs. Soft Gel Vs. Gel Polish

The main difference between hard gel, soft gel, and gel polish is how much protection it provides the nail from chipping and breaking. Hard gel provides the best protection while soft gel and gel polish are quite similar in terms of protection. Other than that, here are some key differences between these nail polishes.

  • Treatment kind
  • Length of nails
  • Consistency of the gel
  • Application method
  • Removal process
  • Cost

1. Treatment kind

The hard gel is used for a sturdy, long-lasting, and high-length gel effect. So here, you’ll get as much as you want. These treatments will last for a maximum of one month. So you are in a long-term relationship. And soft gels tend to last for two weeks. They will also give the appearance of natural nails. They cannot be used for long nail extensions. And lastly, regular gel polishes are used for the regular polish application, and they don’t add to the length or strength of the nails.

2. Length of nails

The hard gels are perfect when you want longer nails, and the soft gel is perfect when you want medium nails. And the gel polishes are not length-specific and will work over any length of the nail.

3. Consistency of the gel

The hard gel is thick and hard to work with, so a salon would be a better option. Soft gels have a medium thickness, are not that hard to work with, and are easy to mold. And lastly, the gel polishes are liquid, making them the easiest to use.

4. Application method

The soft and hard gels are pulled over the nail with a brush. The gel polishes are brushed over the nails.

5. Removal process

The hard gel has to be removed by filling, so you need a professional. The soft and gel polish can be removed at home with a 100% acetone soak.

6. Cost

Hard gels are costly, and they can cost up to eighty dollars. The soft gel will cost around fifty dollars, and the gel polishes will cost forty dollars. But the cost is way less when you use a gel polish at home.


1. How to Get Rid of Hard Gel?

A filling machine can remove the hard gel in a salon.

2. Hard gel vs. acrylic?

Acrylics don’t come in pre-mixes, and the hard gel comes as a pre-mixed solution. Acrylics have an odor, and hard gels don’t.

3. Soft gel nails vs. acrylic?

The soft gel is more porous than the acrylic; they are both removed with 100% acetone.

Final Thoughts

There are significant differences between hard gel, soft gel, and gel polishes. And one of the key differences between the gel polishes is measured by how long they last and how sturdy and stubborn they are. And again, another fact to consider is that the gel polishes have a lot of similarities because they are mostly just polymers. And all of the gel nail paints are activated by UV light. And it is because of this that they are a very entertaining fact with conventional gel polishes.

 They also tend to work great. But to choose from the gel polishes, you first have to consider what kind of finish you want. And are you in it for the long haul, or do you want the gel polishes removed in just a few days? If you’re going with the former part, then we recommend going forward with the Gard gel. And if you’re on the second part, for length and sturdiness, go with soft gel. And for home applications, gel polishes would be the best option.

Key Points

  1. The key difference between the two is that when soaked in 100% acetone, the soft gel will come off the hand. And to remove the stiff gel, you must file the nails. Gel polish requires simply a UV lamp. However, it does not lengthen the nails. They are also available in a variety of hues, much like regular nail paint.
  2. Since the hard gel is thick and difficult to work with, a salon would be a better alternative. Soft gels have a medium thickness, are easy to work with, and may be molded. Finally, because gel polishes are liquid, they are the simplest to apply.
  3. Hard gels are expensive, with prices ranging up to $80. The soft gel will cost roughly $50, while the gel polishes will cost around $40. However, using a gel polish at home is far less expensive.

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