First of all, Solar Nails ARE acrylic nails. The products used in their application are exactly the same. This is a term used by 'discount' salons to make you think that you are getting some new, and better type of nail. You are not. Generally, Solar Nail refers to the standard Pink & Whites (Forever French). Instead of using one color of acrylic, they will apply a white powder to form the extension, hence the name Pink & Whites.And P&W's have been around a long time now. They are nothing new.
Are they better than gel nails. Well, that depends on how you define 'better.'
When top of the line gel products are used, gel nails are non-yellowing, non-toxic, odorless, they look more natural, they are more flexible than acrylics, and less prone to cracking, breaking, and lifting, and they have a very high shine to them.
Gel 101: Gels are not powder, ever. They are gels. And gels have a hair styling gel consistency to them. They are available in a wide variety of colors, and shimmers.
Gel nails are applied one layer at a time. There are usually anywhere between 2-4 layers of gel applied to each nail. Each and every layer must be individually cured under an Ultraviolet lamp for about two minutes before the next layer can be applied. Once the nail has been formed, a UV gel sealer or a UV finishing gloss is applied and cured as well. The result is a beautiful nail - IF you have a tech who is experienced, and highly skilled in doing gels - and who uses the best products available. This is important. There are cheap junk gels on the market. DIscount salons typically use these. The cheap gels are nothing but problems.
The difference between acrylic nails, and gels is this. Acrylic nails are applied with a liquid, and powder(s). There is no UV lamp involved.
Gel nails are just as I described already. If a tech is supposed to be giving you gel nails, and the tech uses ANY liquid and powder, you are getting acrylic nails. Period. Gel nails NEVER have any liquid & powder used in their application. Ever. Don't let the tech try to fool you into thinking that you are getting gel nails if this happens. This is a common scam in the discount salons, where they give you acrylic nails, then apply either a cheap UV topcoat, or a UV gel topcoat, and then they will call them gel nails, and charge you the much higher price for gel nails. These are NOT gel nails. They are acrylic, no matter what the tech tells you. Don't fall for this scam. It happens all the time. BTW, a discount salon is the typical Walmart, or mall type of nail salon, where a full set of acrylics cost between $15 and $25, no appointment is needed, and there is a huge language barrier between you, and them. These are the places that will ruin your natural nails more often than not by using a Dremel drill on them, and filing them paper thin, usually causing much pain either during, or after they are done applying the nails. Nail services should NEVER hurt in any way, ever. And a Dremel drill is NOT for use on nails. In many states, it is illegal to use one of these on your nails, but they use them anyway). If this is the type of salon you are planning to go to, I would suggest reconsidering, and finding a better place to have them done at. If you go through with it, you'll know why I suggested this after you leave there, and your fingers are in a lot of pain.
Also, gel nails cannot be soaked off. Only acrylics can be removed that way.
Hope this helps.