Shellac nails are taking over as the new, preferred manicure trend, and it’s easy to see why. A shellac manicure lasts a minimum of two weeks, does not lose shine and does not require extra drying time. For women who just love a good nail polish and are not interested in nail extensions, shellac nails require less work and maintain beautifully for a longer period of time.
This is the next level option for women who want to wear beautifully colored nail polish without worrying about a chip or faded color. Shellac nail polish lasts longer and holds up until you want to take it off. Want to learn more? Keep reading!
Ultimate Guide to Shellac Nails: Contents
• What Is Shellac Nail Polish and How Does It Work?
• How Long Does Shellac Manicure Last?
• Pros and Cons of Shellac Nail Polish
• Differences Between Acrylic, Gel, SNS, and Shellac Nails
• How to Do Shellac Nails At Home?
• How to Remove Shellac Nail Polish
• Is Shellac Manicure Safe?
• Shellac Manicure Tips to Know
• Shellac Nails Prices at Beauty Salons
• 11 Best Shellac Nail Colors and Kits to Get Now
Shellac nail polish is a hybrid look that sits between regular nail polish and gel nails. This fusion allows for a deeply pigmented color that has a protective coat built in. This protective coat is the addition of the “gel” to protect the color and the nails for a longer-lasting and more beautiful manicure.
Part of the way that a shellac manicure lasts so long and looks so good is that most formulas are self-levelling so there are no lumps or unevenness in the polish. The top coat is a durable gel top coat and it will dry instantly, though it does have to be cured.
The shellac manicure is cured using a UV light in the same process that a gel manicure uses. A shellac manicure is a four-step process that produces a long-lasting, shiny and chip-free manicure.
A good shellac manicure will last you a minimum of two weeks without chipping, peeling, cracking or fading. The absolute shortest amount of time a shellac manicure will last is a week.
Shellac nails stand up to everyday things like gardening and the chemicals involved with most chores. Normal everyday life will not affect shellac nails; shellac nail polish is designed to stand up to normal wear and tear and be removed only with intention.
As with everything, there are pros and cons to wearing shellac nail polish. There are plenty of good and bad things about every option, but the choice at the end of the day is based on what works for the individual. Someone with healthy nail beds and a penchant for shiny, stunning color would find a great step up from ordinary manicure in shellac nail polish.
Below is a list of the pros and cons of shellac nails to help you make the choice!
• They last!
• The application process is shorter.
• Less damaging than other options.
• Shellac is more budget friendly.
• Can be removed at home.
• Since they are cured under a UV light, they are longer-lasting.
• Shellac nails are safe to get during pregnancy.
• Shellac nail polish is also odorless.
The cons regarding wearing shellac nail polish are really just due to the damage the removal process causes.
• The UV lamp exposure can be harmful.
• Shellac manicure is damaging to weak nail beds.
• Acetone wrap removal is harsh on your nails.
• Shellac nail polish comes in fewer colors.
• When shellac nails grow out, it is obvious.
• Shellac nails do not last as long as gel or acrylic nails.
With so many innovative nail extension and nail color application methods available, sometimes it’s really hard to make the best choice. Are shellac nails really for you or should you instead consider acrylic nails, for instance? Below, we discuss all the differences between four of the most popular manicure trends of the moment – acrylic, gel, SNS, and shellac nails.
Acrylic nails are built by combining liquid acrylic and a special powder that has been around since the 1970s. Acrylic nails have a significant look that is well known, as well as a high level of durability and a can be cured without a UV lamp. They are not ideal for pregnant women, as the acrylic combination can be toxic.
Gel nails are another option that will allow the nails to be built up and protected. Gel nails are more flexible than acrylics, which makes them better for people who want nail extensions but may have damaged or brittle nail beds.
Gel nails are safe to use during pregnancy and are applied by spreading a liquid gel across the artificial tip and natural nail. The gel is then cured using an LED or UV lamp to harden it.
Unlike acrylic and gel nails, shellac nails cannot be used to extend the length of your nails. Shellac and gel nails do get mixed up together more often than acrylic nails and shellac nails. With acrylic and gel nails the nail is built up and extended. Shellac nails on the other hand (pun intended) are designed to provide color and the finishing touch.
Shellac nail polish is the next level of nail polish. A shellac nail manicure will not thicken the appearance of your nails as significantly as gel or acrylics.
Known also as dip powder nails, SNS nails feature a gel base and a powder consistency. The idea is dipping your nails into the powder and getting a natural color without harming your nail beds. This is the most innovative nail polish application method of the moment, giving you the benefits of using odorless, trendy nail colors, which don’t require any curing.
Love your shellac nails? Want to be able to do them at home? You can!
1. First, shape your nails with a file. Once you have the shape you want, clean your hands to remove the dust.
2. Push back your cuticles gently.
3. If your kit has a base coat, apply the base coat starting at the cuticle. Coat the tip of the nail and leave a breadth of space between the skin and the base coat.
4. Whatever apparatus you are using should be set up. Put your hands under the light for 30 seconds to cure. Your nails will be a bit sticky, but that is intentional to create a sealed edge.
5. Apply the first of your two layers of shellac nail color. Use broad, easy strokes because the color will self-level. Keep the layer as thin as possible and do not paint beyond the base coat.
6. Once all the nails are painted, put them back under the light to cure! Make certain you follow the allotted time requirements for your device.
7. Apply the second layer of shellac nail color, following the same directions.
8. Cure your nails again.
9. Apply the top coat on each nail but cover the nail completely, from cuticle to tip, end to end.
10. Cure your shellac nails one more time.
11. Finally wipe the sticky residue remaining on your fingers with an alcohol wipe.
12. Admire your handiwork!
Shellac nail polish removal is very easy and clean. You have to soak it off with acetone! There are two different options to do so, and here’s how you do it!
The foil will help hold in the heat from your hands, allowing the acetone to work better.
1. Cut five cotton pads in half and cut 10 large tinfoil squares. You will also need a nail file and acetone nail polish remover.
2. Gently buff over the shellac nail polish with your nail file, and then soak a half cotton pad in acetone.
3. Place the acetone-soaked cotton pad on the nail and wrap it in place with a foil square to hold it in place.
4. Let the acetone soak for 15 minutes to allow the gel polish to lift from the nail bed.
5. Use a round cotton pad to wipe off any remaining, sticky polish. If it appears to be more than the round cotton pad can handle, use a manicure or orange stick to scrape the residue off the nails carefully. You can likely also peel the remaining shellac polish off.
The soaking method uses a bowl of acetone and just dipping your fingernails in it for the most part. As far as difficulty, the most concerning part is not tipping over the bowl of acetone!
1. Pour acetone nail polish remover into a shallow bowl that is wide enough to put your nails in all at once (one hand at a time or both, whatever you prefer, of course.).
2. Put cuticle oil around all of your cuticles and wipe off the excess. This will help protect your cuticles from drying out.
3. Put your nails in the acetone and let them soak for approximately 10 minutes.
4. Remove your nails from the acetone and scrape off the shellac nail polish using the flat edge of the orange stick. If you want to start scraping it off while it is soaking, do so at the 8-minute mark while your nails are still soaking.
Regardless of which shellac nail polish removal method you use, wash your hands with warm water and soap to remove the rest of the polish. Make certain to recondition your skin afterwards with lotion and cuticle oil to replenish the moisture that the acetone will strip from the skin.
Shellac manicures are safe, but they are not for everyone. The primary concerns are allergy related, UV related and chemical related. Those people who are suffering or have suffered from UV damage or skin cancer may not be so keen to put their hands under a UV light. If the apparatus is not set up correctly, the light can cause eye or skin damage similar to that of a tanning bed.
As long as you are not allergic to any of the ingredients or opposed to the UV light you should be good to go. Just watch out for the time beneath the UV light. You should not be beneath the light longer than a set time period. Most lights for at-home and for salon use have a timer set in them as a safety measure.
The allergy issues are typically related to plasticizers included in the gel mixed in the shellac nail polish. Many of the people who have an issue can get answers from their manicurist about the ingredients. Some will have no fragrances, and many others have reformulated to take out the harsher chemicals.
The chemical composition of the shellac nail polish is a concern for most, and information is power and health. The most important thing to do is ask and check the labels. If you have a reaction to acrylic or gel nails, you are likely to have an issue with shellac nails as well.
Tips and tricks are always welcome if they can improve your manicure and the health of your skin and hands. There are two things to remember – acetone is critical to removing the shellac manicure, and UV light is critical to curing it. Your hands need to be protected and the moisture replaced.
Here are a few quick shellac nail tips to help!
• Wear a lotion with sunblock on your hands. It will prevent some of the damage from the UV light.
• Do not pick at your shellac nail polish. Unlike regular polish you won’t be picking at just the polish but stripping off layers of your nails as well.
• You can use coconut oil or olive oil in place of cuticle oil, and coconut oil is a great moisturizer for your whole hand afterwards. Apply your choice of cuticle oil twice a day.
• Be careful picking your at-home kit because many of them will not give you the results that you are looking for.
• A few times a year, let your nails breathe and choose just a simple manicure for a good look and comfortable feel.
Prices for shellac manicures are set in accordance with the locale. Some people will find that their local salon charges $15 dollars, while others found the prices to be closer to $60.
The shellac nail polish that is applied can be more expensive at salons with a “custom” process, which is typically just a hand massage with a specialty lotion or something similar.
It really depends on the services offered and where they are offered, but for the most part, the general price range is between $15 and $60 for getting shellac nails done.
If you have decided to go the DIY route, below you can find the best shellac nail polish colors and kits you can use at home to get picture-perfect nails!
1. CND Shellac Vinylux Weekly Nail Polish in Lavender Lace
The Creative Nail Design’s Vinylux weekly nail polish comes in 101 different colors and doesn’t require a base coat. Lavender Lace is the perfect daily color that is easy to use and lasts no less than a week. The color coat is self-adhering and doesn’t fade or chip. You can pick this shade or any other Shellac nail color from Amazon now.
2. Young Nails Caption Mistress Sugar Kit
The colors of the Caption Mistress Sugar Kit are pigmented intensely through a special process so that the resulting manicure is flawless. This shellac nail kit is self-leveling, which takes a lot of frustration out of the process. The durability is just as long-lasting as expected but dries very quickly without using a UV light. You can find it online at Ulta Beauty.
3. CND Shellac Power Polish in Cream Puff
The long-lasting formula with its no-chip finish has a great look with a 14-day life of perfection. The drying time for this shellac nail polish is instant to ensure that there is no smudging. The color is fantastic, even for the office or a subtler look. You can pick it from Macy’s.
4. Pink Series Elite99 Shellac Gel Nail Polish Kit
The shellac nail polish kit by Pink Series Elite99 is easy to use both in terms of application and removal. The application process is more comfortable at home and even lacks a harsh smell, which makes application easier to do even in rooms that are not overly ventilated. This shellac manicure lasts a full two weeks and, in many cases, can even go to three weeks. Find it in 13 color options from Dresslily!
5. CND Shellac Power Polish in Romantique
The CND Shellac Power Polish doesn’t chip or peel and dries instantly to prevent smudging. These nail polishes are cured with a UV lamp rather than letting them dry like a typical polish, but that prevents smudging, as the dry time is instant. This romantic color is the smooth, soft everyday equivalent that provides a reliably stunning look that is perfect for any situation. Get it from Macy’s now!
6. Caption Nail Polish in Come Up for Air
Light, soft shellac nail colors are easy to pair with an everyday look, and the color Come up for Air from Caption is a perfect example of a great everyday color. The color works, and the formula doesn’t chip, smudge, flake or peel but is easy to remove.
This is a cross between a regular and shellac nail polish, as it uses a unique technology that doesn’t harm your nails, but provides the same benefits of a gel manicure. This lovely color is now available at Dermstore.
7. CND Vinylux Weekly Nail Polish in Rouge Rite
Intensely pigmented color is the only way to wear a red nail polish, but the biggest problem with a strong color is how obvious it looks chipped. This burgundy nail polish always looks fresh and clean for more than a week and doesn’t chip or mess up and is much easier to remove and redo when needed. It’s reliable and will work in a pinch. This rich shellac nail color is available on Amazon now.
8. Caption Nail Polish in If Only I Had Wings
The durability of this incredible color is a must-have for the shimmering nail look. The shine is mirror like but thanks to the formula and the style it will continue to catch the light and reflect beautifully with the prismatic green, gold and bronze shine. This Caption nail color is also available at Dermstore.
9. Young Nails Caption Rose All Day Ombre Kit
This particular shellac nail polish set is designed for an ombre look in whatever direction you want on your nails. The application and self-leveling formula make the blending easier. The round-tip brush makes things that much more interesting to create the ideal manicure that you want. Get this feminine shellac kit from Ulta Beauty!
10. CND Vinylux Nail Polish in Overtly Onyx
CND Shellac in Overtly Onyx is the deepest black nail polish with a high shine that looks beautiful for no less than a week. Anyone who wears black nail polish knows it can be frustrating, but CND’s Vinylux provides a long-lasting, high-shine, perfect black color with no base coat. Pick it from Overstock!
11. CND Creative Play Nail Polish in Flashi-ion Forward
Playful shellac nail colors are a lot of fun and half the reason so many different colors exist. The color Flash-ion Forward allows for a fun nail décor and style, creating an exciting confetti-styled look. You can find this glitter shellac nail polish on Amazon.
Photos via @cirulnya_sova, @lifeofleyla_, @cndworld, @auwki