Fiberglass Nails Vs Acrylic: Which Is Right For You?

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Two of the most famous nail manicure systems available nowadays are fiberglass nails and acrylic nails. They can lengthen, strengthen, and beautify your nails. Their main difference lies in the application technique, the products used, and the appearance of the extended nails.

Regardless, either method will result in, strong, and beautiful nails.  

Whether you want your nails colored, strengthened, lengthened, or have a unique design, you can achieve any or all of these at your nearest nail salon or in the comfort of your home. Best of all, they can last for weeks or even months. 

In this article, we’ll look at Fiberglass Nails vs Acrylic, and compare and contrast these two systems. If you are looking into treating yourself with a manicure (and maybe a pedicure as well), you may be torn as to which to use.

Let’s find out!


What Are Fiberglass Nails?

Fiberglass nails are a current beauty trend that has been going viral on social media. Have you seen those beautiful, long, almond-, square-, coffin-, ballerina-, oval-, or stiletto-shaped nude nails? They look very natural yet very posh and elegant. Even if fiberglass nails have gone viral recently, did you know that they have been available for decades?

Most millennials are familiar with gel and acrylics and it might seem that fiberglass nails are new to them. It’s because it is a less common method of lengthening the nails. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t great at doing so. 

The fiberglass nail system makes use of thin fiberglass material to extend the nails. They are also related to silk wraps. The only difference between them is the materials used to make them.

Many favor fiberglass instead of silk because they are more durable. 


Fiberglass can come either as wraps similar to the Kalolary wraps shown above or as strands. The wraps can be cut into shape and applied over the nails to provide added strength for the natural nail.

The fiberglass strands are better used to add length to the natural nails. They won’t usually cover the whole nail but only part of it towards the free edge. The strands are long and they can be easily cut to the desired length.

Either way, the fiberglass would be secured in place with a resin glue.

How to Apply Fiberglass Nail Extensions

  1. Prepare the nails – Nails are prepared by cleaning them and removing any contaminants such as nail polish and oils. The nails are also lightly buffed to help the fiberglass to attach better. 
  2. Basecoat and fiberglass application – A basecoat is applied onto the nails to help the fiberglass attach to natural nails. You can use either wraps or strands and arrange them on the nail. Then, cut the fiberglass to the desired length. Don’t worry if the fiberglass free edge doesn’t seem straight. You can shape this later. 
  3. Seal the fiberglass extensions – Once it is cut, you have to apply the resin glue over and under the fiberglass extension. You need to cure the resin glue by exposing the nail under UV light. A pinching clip is also used to make sure it curves just like the natural nail does.
  4. Shape and buff –  An cotton ball dipped in alcohol or an alcohol pad can be used to remove the sticky layer on top. Then you can now work on the free edge according to the desired shape. The fiberglass nail can now be buffed for a smoother and natural appearance. 
  5. Paint and decorate – Depending on what you want, you can now paint the nail depending on the desired color or you can go for a more natural look by just opting for a clear topcoat. 

Fiberglass Nails Pros And Cons

Using fiberglass on nails can produce great results. However, as with other nail systems, it also has its pros and cons. One of the main reasons why some people prefer fiberglass nails over others is because they can look natural. They are very thin, and it looks like there is nothing over the natural nails. 

They are also gentle on the nails and won’t cause too much damage to the natural nails. After all, they are only made of a thin layer of fiberglass and resin. Consequently, the removal process is easier than for, say, SNS nails.

However, it is often best to go back to your nail technician for proper nail extension removal. 

If you are determined to remove them on your own, some suggest using acetone. Submerge your nails in acetone for a few minutes and allow the acetone to seep into the glue. Then you can wipe off the extension. 

The main downside to using fiberglass nails is that it can easily be lifted if the hands are frequently submerged in water.

Furthermore, the trapped moisture can cause mold to grow in between the nail and the fiberglass layer. 

Additionally, although fiberglass extensions available today are made to be durable, acrylic extensions are even stronger. 

When Should You Use Fiberglass Nails?

Psychedelic Nails

Fiberglass nails are a great solution to strengthen and lengthen the nail. Due to their thinness, it is ideal for those who want a natural look. They don’t look obviously fake when applied, and can be quite understated and elegant. 

Fiberglass is also a great solution for those who have naturally long nails but unfortunately had one broken or had a vertical split nail. Instead of cutting all the nails to match the length of the broken one, fiberglass can be used on that nail to still enjoy longer nails. 

The nature of one’s work or lifestyle should also be considered when choosing fiberglass nails. As mentioned earlier, fiberglass nails aren’t ideal for those who frequently submerged their hands in water. If your lifestyle or work involves touching water often, these extensions shouldn’t be for you.

Additionally, some nail technicians say that fiberglass could dry out when exposed to chalk. If you are a teacher who uses chalk often or if you are an artist with chalk as your medium, you probably would want to stay away from fiberglass extensions and choose the other alternatives instead. 

What Are Acrylic Nails?

Now that we know what fiberglass nails are, let us shift our focus to acrylic nails. Just like fiberglass nails, acrylic nails will make your nails look better. There are simply lots of things you can do with them.

Whether you want it to look natural or to be uniquely designed, acrylic nails are a great solution. 

Instead of fiberglass material and resin, acrylic nails are created by combining a powder acrylic product with a liquid one. The powdered one is called a polymer  while the liquid one is called the monomer. They are combined using a brush and it forms a dough-like substance. This softball can then be formed on top of the nail or on top of a nail extension guide sticker, depending on the length desired. 

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KADS Kolinsky Sable Acrylic Nail Art Brush Red Wood Pen Nail Brush for Nail Art Manicure Tool (12#)
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AKOAK 100 Pieces Horseshoe-shaped Nail Art Acrylic Nail/UV GEL Nail Extention Tips Form Guide Sticker
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Here’s an image showing the basic process.


How To Apply Acrylic Nails

  1. Prep the nails – Just like any other nail extension system, you want to apply acrylics on clean nails. You should also trim the nails so that it isn’t too long and would still be manageable. It is best to have a few millimeters of the free edge so that the nail extensions can be attached to them if you prefer.  You also need to buff the surface of the nails so that it isn’t shiny. This also helps make sure that the acrylic sticks well to your natural nails. 
  2. Push back the cuticles – When applying acrylics on nails, you want to make sure that it adheres to the natural nails and not the skin. That is why you should push back the cuticles or trim them. 
  3. Use a primer – An acrylic nail primer helps prepare the nail more by removing moisture and oils on the nail’s surface. It may also be called a nail dehydrator. This is an important step and shouldn’t be skipped because if there are oils on the nails, the acrylic is less likely to stick. Nail primers are usually made with acid so you should be careful with them and avoid getting them on your skin. There are also acid-free primers available in the market which are gentler but effective. 
  4. Attach nail tips (Optional) – Although acrylic nails  can be used on their own to lengthen your nails, you can also attach nail tips if you prefer. These nail tips come in various shapes and sizes. They are attached securely to the natural nail with the use of nail glue. Some may not use nail tips but attach nail form stickers. These will act as guides when extending the nail length. The nail forms are strong enough to hold the acrylic in the shape desired until it hardens and is able to support its own.
  5. Mix the acrylic monomer and polymer – Pour some of the liquid monomers on a dappen dish. Dip your brush to get it wet and make sure that there are no air bubbles on your brush. Remove the excess liquid then dip the brush on the acrylic powder polymer. This would create a ball-like dough. Getting the consistency right takes some practice and once you’ve created a ball, you can now apply it on the nail. 
  6. Shape and sculpt the acrylic bead – The acrylic bead is placed near the cuticle and is directed downwards towards the tip. It is sculpted according to the shape and curvature desired. While shaping the acrylic, the brush is dipped on the liquid acrylic to help smoothen out any bumps. Usually, one bead is enough to cover the entire nail and to provide additional length for it. However, if it isn’t enough, you’d have to create another bead and place it on the nail again. Depending on the design, some may use different colors and form different shapes for decorative purposes. 
  7. Use the pinching tool – The pinching tool is used to create a C curve in the acrylic nails. This will mimic the natural shape of the nails. Some nail technicians use a nail pinching tool while others use nail pinching clips
  8. Wait for the acrylic to dry – The acrylics don’t require the use of a UV nail lamp to dry and harden. All you have to do is to wait for about 2 minutes and it should dry up and harden on its own. 
  9. Buff and smoothen the acrylic nails – Once the acrylic nails are completely dry and are hardened, you can now buff and smoothen it. You can also reshape the nails and make sure that the free edges are smooth. This can be done manually with a nail file or with an electric nail file
  10. Seal it in – In order to seal the acrylic nail, you can choose either an air-dry top coat or one that requires a UV lamp. Either way, you shouldn’t forget to seal your acrylics to make sure it lasts. This is also the step where you can get creative with colors. 
  11. Use cuticle oil – Cuticle oil will help hydrate the cuticle area. After all the procedures, this helps prevent it from darkening. 

Acrylic Nails Pros and Cons

Fingernails and Flowers

Acrylic nails are a popular choice in the salon largely due to their durability and convenience. They can be used for nail extensions and they can even outlast those who have a bad habit of chewing their nails.

Acrylic nail extensions are hard to chew off and can help prevent further damage to the nail due to this bad habit (ahem). 

Another great thing about acrylic nails is that you can get them at almost any salon. It is a popular system and many nail technicians know how to properly apply and remove them.

Also, they are tough and stable enough to form curves. That is helpful for people who have naturally flat nails and lust after beautifully curved nails. 

However, acrylic nails also have their disadvantages, including the possibility of causing damage to the natural nail. When the natural nail is damaged, fungi and bacteria can grow in them too.

Acrylics are thicker than fiberglass wraps and will look less natural than fiberglass. 

Some people don’t like acrylics simply because of the bad smell. The chemicals can be pretty nasty. When applying acrylic nails, make sure the area is well-ventilated.

And when it’s time to remove, remember that acrylics are tougher to remove. You may well need a professional to remove these nails. 

Of course, sometimes they simply pop off on their own.

When To Choose Acrylic Nails

Acrylic nails are versatile. They can be used in various lengths and can be designed according to your preference. They are great for those who need durable nail extensions or those who just want stronger and prettier nails.

However, they are harsher on the natural nails than fiberglass nails are. If you want the least damaging nail extension product, then it would be best to choose fiberglass instead of acrylics. 

Fiberglass Nails Vs Acrylic. Which Is Better?

Nails with Flower

Neither one is better, it really comes down to your needs and goals. As you’ve seen above, we’ve discussed the different pros and cons of both nail extension systems. The final choice should be based on your lifestyle, budget, style goals, and availability of the services in your area. 

Acrylic nails are more popular and more widely available than fiberglass nails are. You should consider this when choosing what nail extensions to get.

Although you can do either of the two procedures at home by yourself by ordering a fiberglass nail kit or a DIY acrylic nail kit, it takes practice and patience.

Fiberglass nails are generally better for those looking for a more natural look, while acrylic nails are less natural looking, but a bit more robust, and more well known.

Final Thoughts

Take note of the nail technicians in your area and make sure that they specialize in the procedure of your choice. Many might claim that they can do both, but it’s worth asking the questions. Make sure you have your nails done by a reputable nail technician.

Using nail extensions includes risks. You can minimize that by going to a professional who really knows what they are doing. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).