Difference Between Solar Nails and Gel Nails (With Table)

As a type of acrylic nail, solar nails use a chemical called Poly Ethyl Methacrylate. As the chemicals used in solar nails and gel nails are different, the process of their application, cost, and maintenance are also different from each other.

Solar Nails vs Gel Nails

The main difference between solar nails and gel nails is in terms of the chemicals used in each as well as the process of application. While gel nails use a gel formula, solar nails use a combination of powder and liquid. Gel nails, are produced by the addition of a chemical known as Polymer Raisins that gives them the coveted glossy finish.

Comparison Table Between Solar Nails and Gel Nails

Parameters of Comparison

Solar Nails

Gel Nails

Chemical Composition

Poly Ethyl Methacrylate is used as a chemical component in the manufacture of solar nails.

Polymer Raisins are used as a chemical component in the production of gel nails.


Long-lasting durability.

Poor durability, they usually last for a maximum period of 2-3 weeks.


Less costly. Costs vary from $25-$35.

More costly. Costs vary from $35-$100.


Less shiny and glossy than gel nails.

More shiny and glossy than solar nails.

Hardening Process

Harden upon exposure to air.

Harden under UV light exposure.

Removal Process

These nails can be easily removed with an acetone solution.

These nails usually require professional help to be filed out and removed.

What are Solar Nails?

Solar nails are a subtype of the acrylic nails available in the market. These were popularized as an easy method of mastering the pink and white French manicure technique by the company CND (Creative Nail Design). Solar nails are made of part liquid and part powder components that contain Poly Ethyl Methacrylate. When mixed together they form the perfect solar nail outer coat.

These artificial nail variants are durable, user-friendly, and cost-effective. These factors make them a favored choice among women. In the event of a break in these nails, they can be easily repaired at home, saving you a trip to the salon.

However, there are certain drawbacks as well. The possibility of developing fungal infections with these nails is quite high. Moreover, their application process is not very environment friendly as the fumes emitted during this process are quite toxic.

What are Gel Nails?

Gel nails are another variety of artificial nails that are extremely popular among beauty enthusiasts. Known and loved for their glossy topcoat, these nails are made with Polymer Raisins that need to be dried under UV lights post-application.

Unlike solar nails, gel nails require the application of three separate coats to achieve the coveted glossy look. These nails are preferred for their distinctive finish as well as their toxicity-free application process.

However, gel nails tend to be more expensive than solar nails and offer poor durability. They usually last for 2-3 weeks, and unlike solar nails cannot be refilled. This acts as a deterrent for people when making a selection between the two artificial nail choices.

Main Differences Between Solar Nails and Gel Nails

  1. The main difference between solar and gel nails is in terms of the chemical composition of each artificial nail variety. While solar nails use a chemical called Poly Ethyl Methacrylate, gel nails use a chemical called Polymer Raisins. These chemicals provide each variety with their distinctive look and appeal.
  2. The second seminal difference that is a direct consequence of their chemical composition is that both these artificial varieties of nails have different processes of application and hardening. While solar nails harden automatically by exposure to air, gel nails require exposure to UV lights to set and harden.
  3. The look and finish of each type of artificial nail are also different. Solar nails are less glossy than gel nails. This is due to their chemical compositions- the gel-based formula of the latter variety offers an extra sheen to the nails when hardened.
  4. Another seminal difference between the two can be noted in terms of the cost of opting for solar nails as opposed to gel nails. Gel nails are relatively costlier than solar nails. Their costs usually range from $35-$100. The costs of solar nails range from $25-$35. Moreover, solar nails can be maintained at home in case of a break. However, gel nails need professional maintenance in case of a break that cannot be provided at home. This further adds to the cost of gel nails.
  5. The method of removal of each artificial nail variant is also different. While solar nails can be removed with an acetone solution, gel nails have to be soaked or filed off.
  6. Solar and gel nails are also different in terms of the relative lasting period after application. Solar nails tend to last longer than gel nails. The durability of solar nails is more than gel nails because the latter last for a maximum period of 2-3 weeks and cannot be refilled.


Solar nails and gel based-nails are both exciting ways to beautify your fingertips. Both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages that must be thoroughly assessed before making a choice. But one must also cognize the difference between the two in order to have a clear picture of what each variety has to offer.

Gel and solar nails differ mostly in terms of their chemical compositions. This difference gives rise to several other dissimilarities between the two. Poly Ethyl Methacrylate is used as a chemical component in solar nails, while Polymer Raisins are used in the production of gel nails.

This difference becomes pronounced with regard to the method of drying and setting each variety. Solar nails harden upon exposure to air, while gel nails need UV exposure to harden.

The finish of gel nails is different from that of solar nails- as the former offers a more glossy and shiny finish than the latter. The durability and cost-effectiveness of gel nails are poor. They are quite expensive and offer poor durability as compared to solar nails.

All these differences must be closely evaluated before arriving at a decision. These factors can tip the scale in favor of either one of the two artificial nail variants.


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