Acrylic is in a powder form and is dipped in a liquid to form a ball/extension onto the nail. A fake nail extension and/or nail form is usually needed. Acrylic is now avilable in Color Acrylic Powder. Sometimes nail techs may use a Gel in the last step and cure your hand under a UV/Led light. Also they are most likely to use a drill with Acrylic to make the fake nail adhere. You usually soak your hands in a bowl of acetone for removal.
Gel is a liquid form and powder is no where to be found. If they are using powder it is Acrylic. UV/LED Light is used throughout the entire Gel application. Again, no powder is used during a gel process. No Chip Manicure Gel Nails does not require a drill to remove and is removed using the finger foil wrap technique.
Acrylic powder is much cheaper than Gel to purchase. That's why Gel Nails Cost More than a Set of Acrylic(s). Some salons pass off Acrylic as Gel by using the Gel in the last step. Consumers Beware.