Shellac Manicures: An Honest Opinion (Updated)

About a year ago, I wrote a lengthy post detailing my thoughts on a new kind of manicure: the Shellac manicure. I wrote about its pros and cons, and how I thought it compared to the other competitor on the market at that time, OPI’s Axxium gel polish.

The post literally figuratively blew up. Everyone from Shellac users to Axxium users to nail technicians wrote their thoughts in the comments of that post, and I’m still getting updates one year later–it has now become something of a resource or forum for people (thanks to very helpful comments sharing honest reviews).

As an avid shellac fan, and literally dozens of shellac manicures later, I thought I would come back and share my thoughts after one solid year of having Shellac manicures. (This is in no way affiliated with any of the brands mentioned by the way, just thought I would share my thoughts with you guys.)

If she/he is grinding shellac off of your nails, stay far away!

Overall, I’m supremely happy with the Shellac experience. I think the bottom line is that it is super important that you find a nail technician that follows the instructions to the letter. If she/he is grinding shellac off of your nails, stay far away! If they are letting your fingers soak in a bowl of acetone, stay far away (they are supposed to use special foils around each individual nail so as to protect the hands and cuticle a bit more).

I love, love, LOVE my nail gal: her name is Ruth and I followed her from Polished Day Spa to Just Wax It. If you live in the Houston area, there is no better person to do your manicure or pedicure. She’s a perfectionist, which in my opinion is so valuable in a nail artist!

Most notably, I have found that Shellac isn’t as benign for your nails as they would like you to think. Although for the most part my nails were in better condition with Shellac than without it, after a particularly stressful 3-4 months, when my nails became weak and brittle, they did not handle the shellac polish as they did before, and I saw much more chips and peeling more frequently, than I had ever experienced before. (If this happens to you, I suggest taking a prenatal vitamin – it takes months to see the results, but your nails and hair will be healthier than they’ve ever been before.) So I found I needed to take a “breather” from Shellac for 2 months, and that did the trick. My nails (and stress level) had both recovered by then, and I’m happily back to Shellac again.

Also, I find that changing my polish once every 2 to 3 weeks is much less damaging to my cuticles than changing the regular polish every 3-4 days (as is often the case for me with regular polish).

Below, I rounded up a sample of my Shellac manicures over the past year (from Instagram, follow me @prettyshinysparkly). I even wore Shellac on my wedding day!

  • Katie @ TheNerdyKatie

    I used to get shellac manicures all the time, but it just seemed they didn’t last as long. I’m going to try it again since I’m not washing my hands a million times a day anymore (thank the Lord my kid is out of diapers!). I go to Susies Nail Spa on Bay Area in Clear Lake and Michelle is absolutely amazing, so if you ever have anyone in this area looking for somewhere to go, send them there! I promise I am not paid to say that :)

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  • cheryl denise

    I love it – and have found it addicting!! I can’t imagine going back to regular polish….now if only Essie would jump onboard and create gel, so I can use their lovely fall colors!

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  • Elissa

    I completely agree about finding a technician who follows the instructions faithfully. I tried 3 different salons in the Miami area that claimed they had Shellac and from the minute my hands were soaking in acetone I knew it was a bad idea. Maybe it is just Miami, too, but these salons swore that they were using Shellac, but used other brands like Gellish (???) – after the 2nd time that I got fake Shellac I finally stood up for myself and asked the technician to just stop the manicure.

    My favorite thing about Shellac is that it is the perfect way for nail-biters to handle the habit and grow your nails. I bite my nails and after a few months of regularly getting Shellac manicures I had gorgeous long nails. I need to get back into the manicure scene ASAP because I miss having nails! (stress biting can make your manicure suffer, lol!)

  • Lindsey @ Portugal Ponderings

    Saw you speak at the Blogger Symposium… have to say I LOVE the name of your blog. Anyway,I have tried shellac, but it always seems to weaken my nails. I probably have been getting it done incorrectly. I will have to make an appt with the girl you recommend!

  • Amberly

    I’ve been wanting to try Shellac for a long time, but I keep hearing that it’s bad for your nails. “/ Hopefully I can find a good manicurist like yours! You nails look beautiful!


  • Erica

    I liked Shellac, but preferred Gelish… they did take a toll after a while, so I’m currently on a little gel “break”. I also tried “SNS” colors and they looked fantastic with absolutely no chipping. The downside was that it literally stuck to my nails so it had to be ground off. Great for a big day, but I do not recommend it long-term (a two-month recovery period- my nails were paper-thin!) Ouch!

  • Dani

    I too have found that my nails do better when I take breaks in between. I go to a place in West U that does a great job, but I remove it myself. I think the worst part of a Shellec manicure is picking out the right color – since it lasts so long, the pressure is on to pick the best one! LOL!

    • Kristina

      I’m the same way about picking a color ,Dani! :)

  • Leighanna Cumbie

    I found that the only gel color that really lasts on my nails was the OPI Axxium. I guess I have oily nail beds. BUT when I moved to bfe Oklahoma people only did Shellac. I did some research and found Sensationail at CVS and it’s only like $59 bucks! I love it and I can use any gel polish with it and after two manicures I’ve paid for it! Here is their website:

    Also Mr. Kate talk a lot about it on her blog too.

  • Larkin

    I keep wanting shellac to work for me but it destroys my nails.:( I might have to try the sensationail brand.

  • Zibby

    Forget the nail polish… I am obsessed with your ring!

    • Kristina

      Oh, thank you Zibby! :-)

      • NancyG

        It is a great ring!

    • Cheryl Zaccone

      I was thinking the saem thing!


    After almost a year of gels myself (my fave: Gelish), my nails needed a break too. They weren’t splitting, but looked pretty bad with the gel off. I’ve got one month under my belt, and after two (and when the weather gets cold and nails tend to get brittle), I will return to the gels. It’s so nice to have them done and not worry about ANYTHING for 2-3 weeks! I’m addicted, for sure. I’ve been using my secret weapon: Nailtiques formula 2 to get my nails back to optimum health. And of course, Appearex and Viviscal supplements keep them growing all year long.


    • Kristina

      I’m a regular user of Nailtiques 2 as well! I love it so much, though I’ve heard that OPI Nail Envy is amazing.

      • Maria Carter

        I invested in nail envy to try and strengthen my nails – 2 bottles later and I can’t say it made any difference unfortunately :(

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  • chiara

    I agree with everything: luckily, the girls at the beauty salon I go to, follow the instruction perfectly (foils, special solvent etc.). I agree taking Shellac off is less damaging than taking regular nail polish off. The nail girl warned me before my first Shellac mani that the nail surface had to be perfect to hold the Shellac for two weeks. So, I have promised myself to take a Shellac break every two Shellac manis to allow my nails to breathe and to take care of anything that might have happened to them (I had a terrible case of fungus, and want to make sure it never happens again).During this “break” I try to limit my use of regular nail polish too. I can’t say I am happy about this, but I think it’s the best thing I can do for my nails

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  • Kara @ Bostonista

    I’ve only done a gel manicure once and while I did like how it looked and how long it lasted the day afterwards I kept feeling like my nails were sticky and slimy and as if things were getting stuck to them. They weren’t affected by all the possible sticking- they stayed smooth and glossy but I just remember feeling uncomfortable. And for all that they go on and on about the no drying time- the actual process takes a long time! When I need my nails to look good for an extended period of time then I’ll do it but I don’t think I’d get it done on a regular basis.


    • Kristina

      The stickiness is supposed to be rubbed off by the technician with alcohol. If that happens again, when you get home just rub your nails fairly strongly with an alcohol wipe (NOT acetone!). It disappears right away!

  • Michael

    Since I am a musician, I am very conscious about the way nails looks. I often get manicures, either with no polish or a sheer Essie color. I love the look of a nude-colored polish on my nails because it makes my nails looks shiny, healthy and natural. However, as everyone knows nail polish usually starts chipping of wearing off after a day or two. So, a week ago, I made an appointment for a shellac manicure. I asked the nail tech for a natural looking color and it came out amazingly!! A week later, aside from some nail growth, the gel is still completely intact and shiny. It is also great because your nails can be very short to wear shellac and it still looks great (which is very important for me, since I am playing a string instrument, for which nails have to be very short). I’m a little nervous about the removal, though!

  • One Woman’s Style Evolution

    Thanks for posting this update. I stopped using the shellac nail polish after I got back from vacation last August (2011). Maybe it was all of the time that I was spending in the salt water, but that last one didn’t last. Also… Please edit and put this in bigger and bolder letters. “If she/he is grinding shellac off of your nails, stay far away! If they are letting your fingers soak in a bowl of acetone, stay far away (they are supposed to use special foils around each individual nail so as to protect the hands and cuticle a bit more).” This was my issue and after seeing the condition of my nails last August I had to stop.

  • Ericka

    You are so very right about finding someone who completes the process correctly. That is the key!! XX ~ E

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  • Cheryl

    As a Licensed Nail professional for over 13 years, what I can tell you about ANY gel nail polish is that if you’ve experienced issues, peeling, chipping, damage – it may very well be that your tech a) wasn’t truly experienced in the product they were using and applying or removing incorrectly b) possibly not using sysytems in accordance to proper products, lights, etc. and finally c) Some salons TELL you they are using a specific product when in fact they are not, and actually just taking their own products and hijacking it into a Shellac or Gelsih bottle. Yeah…they do. When I read that someone’s polish didn’t last even with a simple manicure, alot of times it is all about the tech’s training and technique. It isn’t the “products” Alot of techs out there aren’t interested in your nail health or safety.. they want to do a service, and collect your money. Alot of techs out there want to save a few $$ so they buy lights that aren’t part of the company system in an effort to save $$ or they mix and match products. Each company has a product and have tested their systems specifically to produce results based on THEIR systems. Deviating from them only increases bad results, wearabilty and safety. Shellac is by far in my opinion the #1 system out there for reliabilty, wear and safety. It was the FIRST system on the market over 4 years ago and it has remained the Superstar since. No I do not work for CND, but as a professional it has always been the company I have grown to trust and have confidence in because their products ROCK. If your nail tech isn’t prepping your nails properly, or appl;ying your gel polish properly or isn’t coming to the “edge” of your free edge and wrapping the nail tip or not getting the edges near the nail folds – your going to experience problems. If your nail tech is “soaking” or “saturating” your fingers/nails in acetone for removal – that is very unhealthy. Repeated overexposure to chemicals can create a hypersensitivity to these products – hence intense itching and allergic type reactions and leaves you the customer overexposed to chemicals that are NOT necessary. For Shellac they provide a very clever nail wrap that has a specific pad that is soaked with acetone to only come in contact with the actual nail, putting cream or oil around the skin provides added protection so as NOT to dry out your skin. Actually CND has just come out with a NEW gel remover that is pumped full of hydrating additives just for that reason.

    The last thing I will add is whatever nail service you are getting, whether you wear polish or you don’t – Applying cuticle oil DAILY will not only improve the overall look or your nails, but it will strengthen weak, dry brittle nails and extended the life of any polish, and work to keep the cuticle and nail plate hydrated… keeping your nails strong – long and healthy.

    • Terri Putnam

      Thanks for the helpful information, been a shellac fan for 6 months.

    • amber

      LOVE THIS! As a fellow Manicurist, I can never stress it enough to clients about these things.

    • Bklemme50208

      Wow ! That was informative. Thanks for taking the time to write about this. I’ve had Shellac put on 3 days ago, I lOVE how it looks. Hope I have no problems.

    • Luckylady

      Cheryl, what do you think of SNS? How does it differ from shellac?

  • Pam

    Love your blog because I was concerned about Shellac/OPI ruining my natural nails. Your information has helped. I also am addicted to Shellac. I did have my technician try the OPI on my nails also, but I think the Shellac wears better. I do the french manicures with Shellac and love them. I can actually go 3 weeks with the French manicure. As long as I use cuticle cream faithfully it doesn’t show wear around the bottom from nail growth. I do think it’s probably a good idea to take a breather from it now and then and let the nails ‘rest’, but it is addicting and I love to have nice looking nails all the time.

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  • Donna

    Gel manicures had me at “instant dry” (swoon!). I too have had gel mainicures for the last year or so, and I LOVE them! I have always hated acrylic nails, so I would never get them: to me, they look fake, the nails are so thick, which look like “man hands”, and I honestly don’t know how your nails can even breathe under those things. Oh, and they are expensive. So, instead of the other option of regular/short lasting/easy smearing manicures, I believe gel is the answer! I have been to about 10 different salons for a gel manicure, some inexpensive, some expensive, some in the middle, and it ABSOLUTELY makes a difference who the nail tech is that does your nails – not the price. So, if they are doing all the “no-no’s” mentioned above, don’t go to that salon again. If you find gel manicures are not working for you, you definitely need to try another salon, and maybe a few, to find the right one. And again, price or “fancy spa” is not what makes the difference.

  • 50&lovinit

    I love the shellac and I’m one of the lucky ones whose salon does it correctly. I’m now going on 4 weeks with the french (actually american) and they still look incredible. I go with light colors when I know I can’t make it for a few weeks, an I pick a darker color when I know I can get back in about 2 weeks. Thanks for the cuticle oil reminder…will start to make it part of nightly routine. Shelby Township, the salon next to home depot at 26 & van dyke is fantastic and I drive 20 miles just to get them done there!

  • Kaz

    I’ve been put off trying shellac as a year ago I had acrylics done. I had them for about 4 months and my nails are still not back to normal. Is shellac better for your nails than acrylics?

    • amber

      Shellac is specifically made for the natural nails, so yes, they are absolutely better than acrylics.

    • sunb

      everything is better for your nails than acrylic! My salon doesn’t even offer acrylic nails because 1) they destroy nails and 2) the stench from all the chemicals would kill us all :P
      look up CND Shellac Application on youtube, you’ll see that there is no damage to the nails :)

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  • Debra James

    Glad you did the update, thanks for the info and I am going to that salon tomorrow just looked it up

  • Ann

    Thanks for your follow up article. What are the two colors you are wearing in the bottom of the Shellac manicures round up. They are stunning!

  • Sami

    I have been having my nails shellacked since July 2012 they were brilliant the first time. Had it removed by the beautician. Had break for a couple of months but in this time my nails split and peeled. I was advised to keep the shellac going but my nails still split bring the shellac off with it. Now my nails are very short and sore to touch at the ends. Is it the acetone that caused the problem and is there anything else could be used to remove the polish?

    • Apeyloo

      You should try using silks to help strenghthen your nails. Overuse of acetone can have negative consequences on not only your nails but your skin. Another cause of peeling and splitting is dry nails. Try applying cuticle oil a couple times a day for a month and see if that helps. The acetone can further compound dry nails if you are frequently using acetone on dry nails. Hydrating your nails and skin can vastly improve the length and heath of your nails as well as the wearability of your polish.

  • guest

    I usually do not wear nail polish because it chips or bubbles up before I can get home. I have oily nails. I tried Shellac last week with my monthly manicure a week later no chips and still shinny. I have not had polish on it over 30 years.  (Started with clear may add a little color one day…natural nails).

  • Gabi

    Your facts and observations and very interesting and informative.  But besides the fact that it affects your nails badly, what about the UV nail lamp and how it may give you cancer? The Washington Post discusses how the UV nail lamp can give you cancer just from being under it for 5 to 10 minutes, especially as seen in the two women from the study in 2009.

  • Gabbbbbbi

    The facts and observations you have presented are very interesting and
    informative.  But besides the fact that it affects your nails badly, what
    about the UV nail lamp and how it may give you cancer? The Washington Post
    discusses how the UV nail lamp can give you cancer just from being under it for
    5 to 10 minutes, especially as seen in the two women from the study in 2009.

  • Blondie7676

    The person that wrote this clearly knows nothing about shellac, nails or anything of the sort … All the nail foil is is a pad drenched with acetone it’s exaxtely the same as the bowl method .

    • Sarah

      Agreed!!! I’ve been a nail tech for 5 years now, anyone who has been trained on shellac should know the more dehydrated the nail, the better your shellac will stay on! Dipping your nails in a bowl rather then doing the wraps, a- saves a ton of time, b- is not harmful to your nail bed or cuticle, c- it is not the “cheap route” it is the easiest route!

  • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

    Left: petal faster suzi (wore on my wedding day, so pretty!); Right: Gotcha with Mother of Pearl on top

  • Btopp

     go to the cnd web site & please read about the u.v. lamp

    • BHP

      And now there is LED light,only 30 second to cure under it ,but only for uv/led gel polishes like opi,gelish,just gel ibd. Unfortunately shellac is not led cured .

  • Lyniki26

    Hi – thanks for the great posts! Can you let me know what color is on the top right (light pink with three views)? Thanks again!

    • Ravinatanson

      It’s called bubble bath (shellac)

    • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

      Actually, it’s Beau and Romantique mixed.

  • Suesue

    I have NEVER had a professional manicure.  I always did my own nails, with regular nail polish.  I tried to do french nails with regular polish, but the white would get cracked.  My D-I-L talked me into a shellac manicure.  The appointment was for shellac, but I got a gel instead.  It’s been over 2 weeks, and I have growth at my cuticles.

    I researched gel vs shellac, and have decided to make the huge investment on the UV light, nail polish remover, and wraps. I also bought gloves to protect my hand from UV lighting.   Power polish nourishing remover, nail surface sanitizer, bond acid,   solar oil, plus top & base,. Also the shellacs: Cream Puff, Romantique, Negligee.

    I’m not sure if I made the mistake of buying nail tips for the french nail manicure, but my hands are NOT steady….I also have the curved strips to use in case the stenciling tips don’t work the way I want.  I guess I apply the Romantique, cure, color, cure, then the french tip covers, then the top coat to cure.  

    I am hoping I won’t have to draw the tips, but I will do it.  I really prefer doing it myself….this way I know the stuff used on my hands are MINE. 

    I truly admit I don’t know a thing about shellac, but am open to new things, and believe the wraps are better than dunking my finger tips in acetone.  The chemical would splash around and that’s not a great option.  

    • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

      I just bought the whole system myself too! Looking forward to doing it myself, as I’ve done my nails all my life and would rather use my own materials. Having had shellac done for 2 years now…while I’m no cosmetologist, I do know the entire process by heart. Here’s hoping!

  • ToTeach5th

    I always put UVA/UVB sunscreen (50 spf) on my hands before I use my UV light.  

  • Jens

    I have tried shellac and gel polish, Im not totally sure I know the difference because the manicurist’s in my area are always a little vague, but I do like it alot, its so much easier than regular nail polish. My issue is although they do foil wraps and seemily good prepping my nails always chip after one week. I have tried a dozen different shops and probably two-dozen different manicurists and still they chip after a week. Friends have joined me on visits or I have tried manicurists friends have used and loved and still I am the only one left with nails that chip with in a week. I am begining to think its my nails and am wondering what I can do to remedy it. Its a big bummer becuase I really do love getting it but I find I really only want to do it for special occasions now becuase it cost so much for only a weeks wear. Any suggestions?

    By the way, I also LOVE your ring its gorgeous!

    • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

      You’re not alone. After speaking with dozens of shellac experts I have found and discovered that some people have much oilier nails then others. This leads to shorter wear times.

    • Mo_in_va

      I am having a similar problem.  I have been doing gel nails with shellac polish for 2 years but about 2 months ago I started to get chipped polish within a week of the manicure.  I am considering taking a small (1 or 2 week) break from gel and see what happens.

    • Leanne Wakulok-Tinsley

      Sometimes shellac or polish lifting may be due to cleaning products or even medications and health conditions.  These conditions also affect nail enhancement products. I have a client who goes through a few weeks at a time of severe menopause symptoms and during these times her nails do not last. Another client has thyriod problems and we have been unsuccessful in finding any suitable nail service that will not lift within a couple of days.  A number of years ago, I had a regular client who needed her nails to be redone every week as they were not lasting and she really enjoyed long nails.  After 6 months of visiting the salon, she finally mentioned she was on heart medication and had failed to inform me of such when completing the client information record.  Finally I understood that the lifting problem was more likely to be related to her medication and not product failure or service application problems.

  • Janice Golf

    i tried Shellac once and will never go bake, at the moment i’m using Bio Sculpture Gel for 3 years now and never had a Problem, there have been no damage to my natural nail and im literally in and out the salon every three weeks. shellac is ok but i find it to be a bit in consistence.   

  • HB

    Hi there, I’ve had shellac on and off foe close to a year and I absolutely love it, but….. Taking it off is a pain and I have been doing it myself with foil and acetone. During my last shellac I had a painful nail, as if it was bruised. I tried ignoring it for a few days. I took it off last night, at the 13 day mark, and have my nail peeling from the top on the nail that was painful. I have another nail that looks worse off, peeling a lot more and what looks like a tiny divot in front of where its starting to peel. Anyways….I was going to have another shellac but I am worried. I don’t wan to destroy my nails, I don’t know why it’s happening. I think I’m just going to get a normal mani with a strengthener. Any advice?

  • suzcomptime

    Sounds like you don’t understand the difference between soaking your fingers in the acetone in a bowl and using the nail foil pads. With the pads and careful application, the acetone only comes in contact with the nail. With dipping fingers in a bowl, you are exposing much more skin. It is not the exact same.

  • Botox injections

    Good job here. I actually enjoyed what you had to say. Keep going because you undoubtedly bring a new voice to this topic. Not many people would say what youve said and still make it interesting. Properly, at least Im interested. Cant wait to see much more of this from you.

  • Donna Burnett

    Hi there, I had my first shellac manicure and pedicure (not sure if they should have done the ped in shellac) for the funeral of my mom on a Thursday.  The service was held 2 days later.  The shellac manicure begin to peel within 3 days of having it done.  I was horrified!    All the talk about this new product that really has not proven true for me.  I will never do it again.  And, to make thinkgs worse, I was told to remove the nail polish is not as simple as using polish remover.  This is way too much and I will discourage anyone from paying the extra money. 

    Right now, it’s a thumbs down and maybe after some new development, I would try it again.

    DCFB – Baton Rouge, LA

    • Hails.snow

      That happened to me once before and I found it was due to my nails being too smooth and needed a light go over with a file to give them some texture to stick to. If I can’t make it to the salon due to work etc and I need to remove shellac I find going over the nail with a file and then soak a cotton ball in nail polish remover and sit that on then file some more usually does the trick and doesn’t damage my nails :) don’t be turned off by a bad experience I love it I get it done every 2 weeks and my nails are still strong having it has actually saved my nails a few times at work as I work in retail so I’m opening boxes with knives, merchandising and moving shelves around etc

  • Cena McMahon McLatchy

    I would highly recommend BioSculpture Gel Nails. They are who Shellac modeled their system after. BioSculpture doesn’t use harsh chemicals in their gel. It’s the same process as Shellac, but stays on longer. They have 3 times the colors of Shellac. Try them, you will not go back to Shellac!

  • MSPF

    Can anyone tell me, am I a total germ freak because I am freaked out by nail techs using their own nails scraping around my nail bed to touch up when they go outside the nail a little with the polish? Everywhere I go top salons to local places they seem to do this. Shouldn’t they use a sanitized utensil instead of their own nails? I even went to a place that soaked my gelsmoff and then the girl started scraping the remainer off with her nails!!!!! that was the last straw so I finally spoke up and
    said can you use a scrapper NOT your nails??? She looked at me and of course did not understand until the owner came owner!!!

    • Monica

      Their nails are SOAKING in acetone and alcohol.  Shellac also used a prep liquid called ScrubFresh which is antibacterial. 

      Germs are GOOD for you, the more you’re exposed the better your immune system.  It’s people like you who are OVER SANTIZING the world and that’s why bigger medicine-resistant bugs are increasing in number and frequency!!

      • Biotechnologist

        Wrong. Exposure to microbes from other people’s hands leads to infections. Ever heard of staph? The over-use of antibiotics has lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria. So part of your argument is correct. Other than that, you need to do a little bit more research about the immune system and microbiology before you make such sweeping incorrect statements.

    • Shewhoknows

      Yes, you are freaking out a bit too much most service professionals are constantly cleaning their hands. You have way more germs on your cell phone, light switches remote controls etc than she does on the tip of her nails.

  • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

    They did a study which showed that you would have to have 300 shellacs a year to even begin to worry about the UV damage caused by 2 minutes at a time under a low-powered UV lamp such as those used by nail salons. You’re more at risk of skin cancer driving in your car without sunscreen, than you are with the UV lamps used in shellac.

  • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

    On the contrary, it’s a more localized form of acetone application. Would you rather I dunked your entire arm in alcohol prior to giving you your flu shot, or would you prefer I use an alcohol swab? It’s the same scenario.

    • Parker S.

      Your manicure is amazing, by far the best i’ve ever seen . Unfortunately i’m based in Sydney Australia, but i was wondering what all the colours you were wearing in those photos, i love them all but can’t seem to convey those colours to my technician when i get my nails done!

      • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

        Thanks! I tend to label them all when i post them on instagram, so you’re welcome to check out my instagram account for all colors that you like! Thanks so much by the way!

  • NancyG

    A wrap is not the same as soaking. In addition to getting more acetone on the skin, soaking applies acetone to both sides of the nail allowing it to really sink in. Since acetone, although safe, is a powerful defatter, soaking can lead to dry, brittle nails.

  • The Scoop by danielle

    I actually found that shellac dries out my nails a little bit, but not to the point of damage. I usually just make sure to moisturize and sanitize them with tea tree oil when they start feeling dry and it seemed to help a lot. tea tree oil can penetrate almost anything, i just wish it smelled better :)

  • rita

    I got shellac on my nails today and he used a drilll to file them and soaked them in acetone as well. My nails are very sore .I’m definitely not going back.

    • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

      Aw, honey I’m so sorry. There should NEVER be a drill present with shellac. Ever. They soak off. :(

  • Jennifer

    Do you have a favorite type of buffer to use on nails before Shellac?

  • sophie

    I was introduced to shellac a year ago and I love it!! My daughter gave me at Chrmas the machine and colours as a gift …I now do my nails on my own…and I love it even better….

  • Jillian

    Do you recall the name of the color you’re wearing in the bottom right picture? I LOVE it!

  • Julia Peter

    Yahhh Good post about shellac nail polish. Shellac can get in different color and it’s not harmful for us. I always use shellac nail polish. Thanks.

  • skinnyjeansbakedbeans

    shellac damaged my nails :(

    • Jersey bean

      I have to agree with you about damaged nails. I have only had it twice, applied by different technicians in different salons. After removal of the first colour (tutti frutti) there was a few whites spots on the nails which the second person buffed. At this second salon I had (tropix) and a week after it’s application 3 of my nails broke half way down the nail plate. I had to keep putting on elastoplast to stop the breaks catching on things and wait for weeks until the breaks got to the end where it was possible to file them. The colour was removed and the nails were in a dreadful state, there are white patches on all but the thumbs and now two more nails have split way down. Can anyone help with suggestions as to what I can do the ends are splitting and peeling back on the nails that were previously broken.
      I will never have this done again but need to do something with them.

  • Kendra Stanton

    I love getting shellac done on my nails. There is nothing that stays on longer.

  • Michelle

    Hi, love your blog but just had to add- Its really NOT a good idea for non-pregnant men or women to be taking a pre-natal vitamin. Levels of supplemental folic acid are typically greater than 500ug which has been demonstrated in several large trials to be linked fairly definitively to certain cancers. In fact in my practice (I’m an RD) I don’t suggest people eating well even take a regular multi due to more and more emerging evidence that popping supplements is not benign. Thanks for an otherwise great resource!

    • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

      Actually, as a medical doctor who has studied extensively the mechanism and biochemistry of folic acid, every woman, who is able to get pregnant, should be taking in 400mg to 800mg of folic acid a day. Sure, it’s better to intake it naturally, but I know I have a pretty poor diet so I prefer to know exactly that I’m taking in the right amount. Most pregnancies are unplanned–and the consequences of folic acid deficiency can be profound, including spina bifida and anencephaly (basically, the baby developing without a brain). Check out these government fact sheets if you’re still not convinced:

  • Renee Springer

    I’ve used

  • Renee Springer

    I’ve used acrylics for a few years and would take a break from time to time. I was done with them completely when I got a fungus o. My thumb nail! I use OPI gel polishes at my nail salon and I’ve been loving it! I’m in water a lot so the fact that I don’t get chipping and the shine lasts for weeks! I always make sure to use cuticle oil to keep them hydrated every day! Btw, I love your wedding rings! Absolutely gorge!!

    • BHP

      I am aesthetician and I do my own gel polish for about 10 months ,I have used and own few brands of gel polishes like gelish,just gel ibd,shellac,gelcolor opi,and the true is that nail prep,capping edges and use cuticle oil every day or twice a day are the keys .


    Some fantastic info here and we too are big fans of CND Shellac, When using Shellac we find its very important to prepare the nails correctly to prevent lifting, that includes pushing the cuticles back nicely and when applying the shellac to ensure it covers the area evenly and thinly. Also if your nails are weak or still recovering, its important to use some solar oil or similar to get them back in healthy conditions before. The better your nails are before shellac the better they will be after the shellac is removed.

  • chantalll

    What color did you use in the 3rd row to the right? Its so pretty!

  • the Nail Lady

    I have been a nail tech/cosmetologist for over 25 years. ANY product you put on your nail, be it Shellac, Gel, or Acrylic is doing damage to your nail. For every person I have that calls the salon wanting it done, I have at least one person that calls because their nails are ruined, and they are looking for help. (My salons do not do ANY of the above services). I don’t care if your soaking in acetone or using the foils…it’s acetone. When you get a regular mani, most places DO NOT use acetone remover if they are a good salon. We don’t even have acetone IN the salon. I have seen the Shellac do as much damage as the old acrylic nails from the 80’s. Technically, what do you think it is ?? It’s basically a colored “acrylic” type material put in a thin layer on your nail.

  • Annique

    What about press on nails vs shellac? I’m a several year (most of my life) nail bitter. I have very weak and brittle nails. I’ve used acrylics, gel tips and shellac. I agree shellac is less harmful than acrylic, but I’m wondering if press on nails with glue would be healthier to grow out my nailed or shellac? I’ve heard about possible fungus getting under press ons, but I’ve also heard that shellac suffocates the nail bed as well. Any thoughts??

  • Nat

    Hi, I have just had my first shellac manicure removed and a new one applied but a week into this second one both my thumb nails have splits half way down that are getting bigger and I’m petrified they are going to snap off which is going to be extremely painful. I have cut the two nails as short as they will go but there is still a long way to the break. Do you think that this is the way the first manicure was removed or are my nails just too thin for Shellac. I haven’t had nail problems in the past. Any feedback or guidance would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Kathryn77023

      Two of my nails have split below the quick since using Shellac. My nail person applied “powder” to repair the crack, then reapplied the Shellac to the mended nail. Good as new!! No need to cut the nail. She recommended having the “powder” strengthener applied to all of my nails at my next appointment, to prevent further splitting. She said the mend would not need to be reapplied at each manicure: only when it grows out.

      • Jessi

        Your nail person is feeding you a lot of bologna. That she did some sort of acrylic enhancement. To apply “Shellac” you don’t need to bear down on the nail with a file before and a lot of unproficiant nail techs do that. It really thins your nail. This is why you are getting horrendus cracks and breaks. You only need a light buffing to remove the shine. Then when they are removed they are to be soaked off. Acetone isn’t hurting you it just dries I you out but that’s why techs should apply cuticle oil at the end of your service. I am a licenced nail professional, have been for 10 years, and you wouldn’t believe all the stuff I see walk in my door on these poor women. People lie to you. They put stuff on you and lie about it. This is what you get when you get cheap nails. Bad product and a bad tech that doesn’t care about you at all. Your just a $ to get in and out as fast as possible. If you have been having a problem I recommend do research for your area go to a nice clean salon with a tech that will take the time to address your needs. Call and talk to her ahead of time you can tell in how she talks to you if ahe cares. You pay more yes. But really it’s like $20 more and you don’t kill your nails. You get what you pay for in product and time. Not to mention the girls who charge more generally go to continuing education and stay on top of making their service the best it can be for you.

        • Meka

          My nail had a split across the nail bed & I had shellac applied to my nail. Should I have waited until it healed before I had them done? I went to a nail salon and the tech told me that my nail (finger) would heal and not get infected. Is this true?

  • lemonhead

    I was wondering how much is shellac?

  • Denada

    Thank you Kristina (and Cheryl) for this invaluable information. I had my first shellac polish in March. It’s June and my nails look horrible. They keep spitting far below the nail bed and seem to get weaker with each application. Now I understand why. The first salon I visited for removal had me soak my nails in a solution that left my fingers shriveled. She also used a grinder to remove the shellac. It was the first time I’d ever had shellac removed so I had no idea that her technique was all wrong. But I figured drying out my nails and then grinding them off was not going to be a procedure I’d repeat very often so I tried another salon. The second salon also used acetone soak for removal but it wasn’t as drying and she didn’t grind the polish off. I tried her three times but I noticed the manicure only lasted a week the last time. So I tried a third salon. Same story, only this time the manicure was chipping in one day.

    Long story but I’ve tried 3 different salons and apparently it’s common practice to take shortcuts at the expense of the customer’s nail health. Within 3 months I have two nails that are nubs and three others that are recovering from nubbery. I have a manicure that’s chipping but I don’t want to go back to another acetone-bath salon. How can I remove this polish?

  • Beacab Gems

    Thanks a lot for the update. I have tried Shellac product quite a few time and it has obsessed with me, especially the nail polish. The Barbie pink and the gloss is really wonderful.

  • ciara

    I have a friend who got shellac on numerous occasions. . It kept peeling off her witjin a few days and the salon told her that she had oily nail beds.. is there a solution to this?

  • Margo

    My nails just grow too fast, I have gotten shellac twice and it never lasts 2 weeks, maybe 1 week and the gap between my nail bed and polish looks horrible, not to mention they start to catch in my hair etc.. In my case I might as well just do regular polish for the price. I also don’t like how my natural nail looks after taking them off.

  • Shawna

    Wondering…can you apply any top coat to your nails I between trips to the salon? I just got the shellac, but want to make it last as long as possible, I feel like my nails need something on the ends to protect them.

  • Michelle

    Had my 1st Shellac manicure recently in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and sadly was not very happy. Although several people had told me they were great…it certainly was not what I expected. My daughter and I had them done (manicure and pedicure) which was quite expensive here…$50-42 respectively, each. My daughters literally just came off on 3-4 of her toenails within the 1st week and one of mine fingernails actually bent halfway back off my nail (I ended up using clear topcoat under it to seal it back to my nail). Sadly we were both away from our home and where we got the shellac done …so unable to have something done about it.
    And as to having it removed…my daughter actually just peeled hers off her nails. I did too! Especially as the salon wanted $10 each (feet and hands) to remove it!
    My polish on my toenails has lasted ! But sadly not sure I will try that again …at least not at the same salon!

  • Bluvsu2

    You should give Strawberry smoothie a try. I had that done today and really like it. I am darker skin tone and it still looks nice. I wanted something lighter and natural looking. This was a great choice.

  • maggie

    I was obsessed with continuously getting shellac manicures for over 6 months. I noticed most recently that my manicures would begin peeling and my nails were giving way underneath the polish.

    The places I’ve gone to all file hard on my nail bed…some even use the electic file. Yes AND soaking them in acetone as well.

    I went in and requested that they remove the shellac and let me rest my nails. The guy would NOT let me leave with my natural nails. He was insisting that he put some polish on them. Okay, fine. A few days later I removed that polish myself to discover THE nastiest, damage you can imagine on my nails. “The white part” had recessed up into the center of my nail. There was ridges and discoloration. Terrible! I’m letting them grow out now and it’s taking a long time. The white part of the nail still has not grown out to look normal.

    I love shellac but I’m a little scared to ever get it again. I can’t seem to find a manicurist who is not barbaric with the filing.

  • Jerry Dieball

    Well, I haven’t used shellac yet, some of the friends are already using and they are actually satisfied with it. They even recommended me to proceed for it, I usually get nail products from Nail Products Distributors.

  • Faith Kettel

    I am going on a sailing trip in the British Virgin Islands for a week. Will be in the water snorkeling and swimming for a few hours each day. Not sure how this will affect my gel/shellac nails? Should I take them off before I go or keep them on? Does anyone have any experience with this? Normally my manicure lasts 2 weeks or more.

  • JBrennen

    I just came across this blog post. I love french manicures, but hate paying so much money only to have it chip the first day. I live in Houston, and since it’s been over a year since this blog post, I was wondering if you still see Ruth at Just Wax It. That’s on Chelsea, right? Your nails are beautiful and I would definitely pay Ruth a visit to have mine look that great!

    • Kristina Braly

      Ruth no longer works at Just Wax it. I do my own shellac nails now, but you can see Ruth anytime at the Urban Oasis spa!

  • FedUpWIthInsanity

    I LOVE the look of the Shellac!! In fact my first pro manis were a series of shellac. Beautiful. However, my nails are strong, thick and grow like crazy–in 1.5 week I can put out a 1/3 nail growth. In fact she said they were so strong, they were almost hard to file.
    At least they were—until my third one. Then they started breaking–way down into the nail bed. ( No problem, a broken nail never bothered me, as I would immediately cut the others to length,, knowing in 2.5 weeks, they would be right back.) However, this time, when the broken nails (and there were more than usual) grew out, they would immediately split and break off. So for the first time in my LIFE, my nails won’t grow! Scary.
    So though I was never a polish user , period. I think when/if they get strong again—I’ll go with regular polish. Though I do really LOVE the shellac.

    • Kristina Braly

      I myself have switched off from Shellac temporarily since my nails started peeling very quickly (after about 1 year and a half of consecutive shellac manicures, mind you) so I’m giving them a breather for a couple of months to let them grow out and get strong again.

  • JC

    All the above manicures are absolutely gorgeous! What color shellac was used in the photo with the cuticle oil?

  • Jann

    Had shellac mani for two months, looked stunning and there is nothing to touch the shine and the volume. But it does do damage to your real nails. I experienced dry cuticles ridgey nail surfaces and thinning of the nail. I have always had great real nails no problems evah. So I gave it up and will only get a shellac mani if I am going somewhere elegant or special.

  • brittani mays

    I just got my nails shellacked for the 1st time. After reading, I began to worry because they put my nails in a bowl of acetone. Should I continue to worry or stop freaking out

  • barbra

    just a disclaimer: “I suggest taking a prenatal vitamin… your nails and hair will be healthier than they’ve ever been before,” – not only are there no conclusive studies backing this us, but taking prenatal vitamins as a non-pregnant woman can be damaging to your health. They’re tailored to promote healthy babies – tons of Calcium, Folic acid and Iron – all of which can cause issues for women who aren’t pregnant. Don’t. just don’t. Pop a regular multivitamin and some Cod Liver Oil if it makes you feel better, but a healthy diet is really the best way to promote hair and nail growth

    • Kristina

      Actually, I’m a physician and all research shows that women are severely lacking in dietary nutrients when it comes to folic acid, calcium, and vitamin D. Prenatal vitamins are safe for any women of childbearing potential and are actually recommended even if you aren’t planning to get pregnant. Of course, if you have specific health issues you should speak with your own doctor before taking any new vitamins, but yes, prenatal vitamins are safe.

  • Kim

    I have just had a second round of shellac, and while i love the look they chip badly within ajust a few days of application. I was told that if i applied oil to the nails that this would not happen, and i applied the special oil twice daily with no improvement. The cost is high for something that only looks good for a few days. My own nails have never been great, and that’s probably the reason. Still, wouldn’t recommend shellac. I prefer something i can at least touch up on my own if needed.

  • Linda

    Hi, great article thank you. I started gel polishes several months ago and loved it. It was great for the first few month but then I noticed my nails cracking and bending more and within a months time they were a complete mess and far beyond repairing. I figured it had something to do with “sanding” the gel more than scraping it off and wondered if the long finger tip dipped alcohol soaks had anything to do with it either. I asked the tech and she said it didn’t and even after requesting her not to use her dremel like sander, she still did and said that she was only doing the polish not the nail. Yeah, okay. Any how here I am with my nails as short as they’ll go, soft, weak and sore after having my last shellac polish removed for a two month break. I have regular polish on them to give them a tiny bit of strength and am searching for the worlds strongest top coat to wear nonstop for the next couple of months until I’m in the gel again (at a new salon).

  • Taryn Mckinnies

    Any suggestions for a good salon/tech in The Woodlands, TX or Spring, TX?

  • Annette

    If any one is having problems with their Shellac or Gel nails, just wanted to let you know about Jamberry nail wraps…they are not polish strips and won’t chip or dry out…they hold up really well as a cheaper alternative to going and having a mani/pedi done…no harmful chemicals at all…super fun, and I am obsessed with them! I have more info on my Facebook page, if anyone is curious…

  • Susan

    I have had shellac manicures for the past two years, I Love them! The last three manicures I have had I felt sharp pain when I put my hands under the ultra violet light. I didn’t think much of it at the time but now my fingers and hands hurt all the time. I am almost 60 so I was thinking that it may be arthritis but I am now wondering if it may have something to do with the sharp pain I feel under the light. Have you ever heard of anything like this?

  • Myrn

    The problem I’m having this year, the shellac comes off, like in a day or two, not chip ,it just comes off , any suggestions

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  • Lilly May Lloyd

    Hello everyone,

    I am a Nail Tech, as well i am CND Shellac trained, i must stress oiling the nail with a natural oil is highly important! Even more so when shellac is involved,
    Shellac helps to fuse the nail layers together and like our hair after we colour we MUST condition the area i.e “Oil” I promise you ALL an improvement in your nails in the future with or with out shellac if you simply oil 2-3 times a day (as many more as you can really!) CND SolarOil is my fave! and has looked after many clients for many years!

    To those who are told to carry on having shellac after seeing a negative affect, STOP!
    simply have a nail holiday and leave them naked while constantly applying oil also keep them short (well as short as you feel you can go), you WILL see a true turn around and will be back to having shellac enjoying the 14day lasting polish in no time!

    Lots of love Lilly from The Nail Studio NewZealand and salon manager at Rock and Rose Wales.

  • Michaela

    I’ve had shellac done twice. I like it but once your nail starts to grow then it looks a mess. This can be an expensive procedure if you keep on having it done. For me I like to keep my nails nice and tidy and shellac just wasn’t do that. I also don’t like the fact you can remove it yourself. I stick to manicures & pedicures now and have a normal varnish. Then if it chips or the nail bed grows I can do them myself.

  • Jess

    I find this post really interesting. Check out my post on Shellac if you wanna see my take on this popular nail trend !

  • Ahad Ammar

    Whenever I do my own nails at home, the doggone polish chips within a week and looks absolutely tacky. Since I work as a corporate receptionist, it’s essential my nails look their very best at all times. So I got CND Shellac Nail Polish for the first time last week, and they still look great. I LOVE it! Will be getting it from now on. Money well spent.

  • Elise

    My nails a weak and flaky, and i can’t grow them long as a result :( Will getting a shellac manicure regularly protect the nail / prevent the tips from flacking/ripping/cracking so that my nails can get longer? thanks :)

  • nabeel

    very informative article

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  • Sarah

    Hi!! Can you tell me what color Shellac polish was used in the picture where you are holding the cuticle oil?

  • Lori Sacroug

    Hi Kristina:

    Not sure if my precious post posted to you. I live in Canada and I am currently in school. I have opened a beautiful little SPA in my home.
    I am learning Gel enhancement nails with the product “LCN” produced by Wilde Cosmetreic in Germany.
    Do you have research on the negative or positive effects on ones own natural nail plate on long term use of these products or know how they effect ones overall health from constant us of Gel colored polish & shellac type polishes??
    My instructor said long term consecutive use of Shellac type polishes even the LCN Recolution is not healthy! She said LCN’s colored gels are more healthy than other’s and better to use a colored gel for colored coverage for you nail plates. Any info would be greatly appreciated! Thank you

  • Ahad Ammar

    I had shellac on my nails by a professional,but had them removed at a walk in shop. They have ruined my nails.They filed off the polish ,so my nails are very very thin and brittle. I always had good strong nails. I went back to complain,but they didn’t seem to understand me or maybe they didn’t want to. Will never have them done again. This post described pros and cons of shellac nail polish very nicely. Thanks

  • Krista

    I’m trying to figure out why I am getting hairline cracks on the white polish of my shellac french after one or two weeks. Is this most likely the polish or the process?

  • Heyy

    For shellac is there anything else you can use to dry it apart from and led lamp or a uv lamp?