Skip to Content

Is SNS better for nails than gel?

Nail enhancements like gel manicures and dip powders have become increasingly popular over the last decade. More recently, SNS dip powder has emerged as an alternative to traditional gel manicures. But which method is better for your natural nails – gel or SNS?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine the key differences between gel and SNS dip powders. We’ll compare durability, cost, damage to natural nails, removal process, and aesthetics. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to decide whether gel or SNS is the best choice for your nails.

What is Gel?

Gel manicures have been around since the 1980s and remain one of the most popular nail enhancement techniques today. During a gel manicure, a gel polish is applied to the natural nails and cured under an LED or UV light. The curing process activates chemicals in the gel polish to harden and adhere to the nail.

Gel manicures typically last 2-3 weeks without chipping or peeling. The hardened gel also protects the natural nail underneath. But some drawbacks exist too. Repeated use can damage the nails over time, and removal requires soaking in acetone to dissolve the gel.

What is SNS?

SNS stands for “Signature Nail Systems.” It’s a dip powder system that emerged in the 2010s as an alternative to gel polish and acrylics. To apply SNS:

  1. The natural nails are prepared and coated with a adhesive resin
  2. The nails are dipped into SNS colored powders until the desired coverage is achieved
  3. An activator liquid is brushed over the powder to harden it into a durable finish

The powder layers fuse together to create a strong, long-lasting manicure. SNS manicures typically last 3-4 weeks without chipping or peeling. No UV or LED light is required, making it generally safer for natural nails.


When it comes to longevity, SNS dip powders last slightly longer than gel manicures. Here’s how the durability compares:

Method Typical Duration
Gel manicure 2-3 weeks
SNS dip powder 3-4 weeks

Why does SNS last a bit longer? With repeated wear, gel can weaken and thin out the nails. This makes them more prone to breakage and lifting. SNS adheres to the nail differently, avoiding this gradual damage and allowing the manicure to stay put longer.

Cost Comparison

In terms of cost, gel and SNS are fairly comparable. Here’s an overview of the typical pricing:

Service Average Cost
Gel manicure $25-$50
SNS manicure $35-$65

SNS is slightly more expensive since it takes more time and materials to complete. The technician has to dip and layer the colored powders for full coverage. However, since SNS lasts longer between fills, it may be more cost effective over time.

Damage to Natural Nails

When it comes to nail health, SNS is generally safer and less damaging than gel polish. Here’s an overview of how they compare:

UV/LED light exposure Required for curing Not required
Chemical toxicity Higher levels of chemicals Lower chemical levels
Thinning of nails High risk over time Lower risk
Brittleness Can cause Less likely

The UV and LED lights used to cure gel polish can damage nails with repeated exposure. And many gel polishes still contain high levels of chemicals like HEMA, TPHP, and formaldehyde resins.

SNS does not require those curing lights. And it uses lower concentrations of chemicals in most formulations. This makes SNS a safer choice to maintain strong, healthy nails in the long run.

Removal Process

Removing gel and SNS also differs quite a bit. Here is an overview:

Method Removal Process
Gel – Soak cotton in pure acetone for 10-20 minutes
– Gently file away tacky layer
– Avoid scraping to prevent damage
SNS – File off top layer of powder
– Soak in acetone for 10-15 minutes
-Wipe away dissolved powder

Both gel and SNS require acetone to break down the polymers and dissolve the manicure away. But SNS removal is a bit quicker and less harsh on the natural nails. The thick SNS layers also help protect the nail plate from filing damage during removal.


When it comes to appearance, gel and SNS can both achieve a range of stylish finishes. Here’s an overview of their aesthetic differences:

Color choices Hundreds of options 50+ options
Finish Glossy, shiny Matte, textured
Design capability Detailed nail art Some nail art

Gel has a much wider range of color choices, while SNS has around 50 popular core colors. The gel formula also creates an ultra glossy, glass-like finish.

SNS powders have a more matte, textured look. While intricate nail art is possible, it’s a bit easier to achieve with gel polish. However, both options allow for creative expression through manicures.

Pros and Cons

To summarize, here is an overview of the main pros and cons of gel manicures versus SNS dip powder:

Method Pros Cons
Gel – Wide color selection
– Glossy finish
– Intricate nail art
– Thin application
– Damages nails over time
– Harsh removal process
– Chips within 2-3 weeks
SNS – Healthier for natural nails
– Lasts 3-4 weeks chip free
– Easier removal
– Textured finish
– Slightly higher cost
– Limited color choices
– Thicker application

The Verdict

Overall, SNS dip powder tends to be healthier for natural nails compared to traditional gel polish in most cases. The lack of UV light exposure and lower chemical levels help minimize damage. And the removal process is less tedious with SNS.

However, gel still reigns supreme when it comes to very glossy, intricate nail art designs. And the huge variety of gel color choices beats out SNS dip powders. For nail health, SNS wins – but for creative freedom, gel manicures can’t be beaten.

The ideal solution may be to alternate between the two options. Using SNS periodically allows the nails to recover and repair after gel removal. But gel manicures can be worked in when you want a super glossy, colorful manicure. This provides the best of both worlds!

At the end of the day, it comes down to your individual nail care priorities. Analyze the pros and cons – and consult a knowledgeable nail technician. With the right information, you can decide whether trendy gel or healthier SNS is a better fit for your lifestyle and nails.


I hope this comprehensive comparison of gel manicures versus SNS dip powders was helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m happy to provide more details on either of these popular nail enhancement techniques.