Shellac 101: The Low Down On The Chip-Free Mani

Nail trends come and go, but a chip-free manicure is always on point, no matter what time of year. If you want a mani that will last through shopping for everyone on your list, cooking a holiday meal of epic proportion AND opening presents day of, look no further than SHELLAC.

You know what they say: “Once you go Shellac, you never go back.”

Chances are that you’ve heard a little bit about gel manicures, because of their increase in popularity over the last few years. Gel nail polish won’t dry like regular nail polish, it needs to be “cured” in a UV light. It also lasts longer than regular nail polish, promising users anywhere from seven to 21 days of a chip-free manicure, depending on the brand. Some people use “Shellac” and “gel” interchangeably, which isn’t necessarily correct.

Shellac was created by CND (Creative Nail Design) after five years in the research labs. CND refers to the product as “power polish,” because Shellac is a hybrid of gel and regular polish. Shellac promises longer wear, “cures” under a UV lamp, and lasts up to two weeks with NO chips. It’s thin, flexible and glossy, like normal nail polish, and it takes less than ten minutes to remove. Plus, there is no drilling, or no dry time. That’s right, you can dig in your purse for your wallet, phone or keys immediately after a manicure, without messing up your nails.

Shellac is only done at certified nail salons and shops, because all of the components must be part of the Shellac system. The CND UV lamp is especially important, because knock-off lamps will prevent Shellac from curing correctly. Some salons may advertise that they offer Shellac but use other products, so make sure all the items used during your Shellac service are labeled with the CND logo.

As a licensed professional. I advise that you have Shellac removed at the salon. Some salons might even comp the removal if you’re getting another service. If you remove it at home, DO NOT CHIP, PEEL OR PULL IT OFF. Soak a cotton ball in pure acetone (the clear stuff), place it on the nail and wrap it tightly with aluminum foil. I’d recommend that a partner help with this, because doing both hands can get tricky. The polish should come off easily, it will take about ten minutes for the product to lift from the nail. You can take an orange wood stick or a cuticle pusher to gently push off the leftover bits of Shellac.

Here are a few things you should know BEFORE you get Shellac’ed:

  • Your nails are prepared for application by performing a dry manicure (no soaking) which includes filing and shaping, and removing any non-living tissue from the nail plate to ensure adhesion of the product.
  • Once the Top Coat is applied and cured, the technician will wipe your nails with alcohol to remove the tackiness left over from the curing process.
  • Shellac manicures require the use of a UV light, so make sure to apply sunscreen to your hands before your appointment.

There are a few reasons why you should NOT get Shellac:

  • You are indecisive about nail color / like to change your manicure color a few times a week
  • You’re on a tight budget (Shellac manicures can cost anywhere from $35 to $50)
  • You really enjoy chipping off your nail polish

I’ve been pretty obsessed with Shellac for a while now. Since I handle a lot more Acetone than the average human, Shellac is my only option, but my manicures can last about a week. My nails used to be short and brittle, but now they are long and healthy and GORGEOUS! There are a wide range of colors, and endless possibilities in terms of artwork. Check out some of my Shellac nail art below!

Have you ever tried Shellac or other brands of gel polish? I would love to hear your feedback!

CND salon rack photo via | Featured image via | All other photos are my own

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