Difference Between Regular Nail Polish and Gel Nail Polish
By Rebecca Rodriguez - February 6, 2022

If you like having your nails done, you have probably encountered the following dilemma: regular nail polish vs. gel nail polish. Sure, we know gel polish supposedly lasts longer than regular polish on your nails, but is that the only difference between them? Is gel always better or is regular nail polish sometimes the best option?

Table Summary

Regular Nail PolishGel Nail Polish
Quick to apply and to removeTakes longer to apply and to remove
Chips easilyResistant to chipping
Close-up of woman's hands showing off green and pink nail polish

Getty Images / DigitalVision / Justin Lambert


Regular nail polish has been around for decades. It can be found at any drugstore in a variety of colors, shades, and sheens. It is fairly easy to apply and can also be removed quickly. The perfect thin coat of color it provides only lasts a few days until it starts to chip, which makes it a good option for people who like to change their nail color frequently. Traditional nail polish also takes a long time to dry, preventing you from using your hands for a few minutes after your nails are done.

Gel nail polish has only been around for a decade, so unlike traditional nail polish, there aren’t as many colors of this product available at just any drugstore. The curing process of drying gel polish takes a lot longer than the application of regular polish, but also means you can use your hands the moment your appointment is over. Gel nail polish is a lot more resistant to chipping or smudging, which means it can last two to four weeks. However, removing gel polish also takes a lot more time and effort – which is why many people choose to have a professional do it for them.

Regular nail polish VS Gel nail polish

Regular nail polish is easier to apply and remove but does chip easily too. Gel polish does not chip as easily but takes a lot more time and effort to apply. While you can go to any drugstore and find a huge selection of traditional nail polishes, it will be harder to find a specific shade of gel polish. At the end of the day, there isn’t one single best option. While some prefer being able to apply and remove their nail polish themselves at home, others don’t mind having to get their nails done professionally as long as the polish lasts for a whole month.