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Shellac Nails: A Long-Lasting Manicure

I used to spend a lot of time and money getting acrylic nails at salons before discovering shellac manicures.

Want long-lasting nails without the work? Forget acrylic, and try shellac.

Want long-lasting nails without the work? Forget acrylic, and try shellac.

Shellac vs. Acrylic Nails

As a mother of four, my hands are constantly working on just the type of tasks that can ruin a manicure (laundry, dishes, etc.). I've tried fake acrylic nails in the past, but I simply cannot get to the salon every two weeks, nor do I have the luxury of being able to spend two hours on my nails twice a month.

My ragged cuticles and split-prone nails do not hold nail polish well. Instead of continuing to paint my nails and watch the polish chip off within days, I had resigned myself to natural nails... at least until the kids are in college.

Then I tried a shellac nail manicure (also called soak-off gel nail polish). It turned out to be beautiful and extremely long-lasting! If you haven't heard of this new type of nail polish treatment, then you're about to be excited as well. Shellac has been heralded as a "hybrid" nail coloring solution that combines the high-shine gloss of a gel nail treatment with the easy application of ordinary nail polish.

Closeup of a shellac french tip manicure

Closeup of a shellac french tip manicure

What Is a Shellac Manicure?

If you would like a shellac nail manicure, you're in luck—nearly all beauty salons offer them. If you aren't sure, check out a salon's website (if they have one) or call ahead. The procedure is so popular that salons that do not offer them are getting left behind.

A shellac manicure does not involve glue or fake nails of any kind. Your own natural nails will be cleaned, your cuticles will be removed, and your nails will be filed and shaped. The process is much quicker than having acrylic nails put on or getting a fill.

Once your nails are ready to be polished, a special base coat for the shellac manicure is applied. A special high-speed dryer is used to cure each coat of the base, including the nail polish and the top coat. After the base, two coats of your selected shellac nail polish will be applied. Special care is given to coat the top edge of the nails. Finally, a top coat is applied, and your nails should be cured for about 30 seconds. How does a start-to-finish manicure in 25 minutes sound?

My new shellac nail manicure

My new shellac nail manicure

What Is Special About Shellac Nail Polish?

Shellac nail polish literally makes your nails stronger and, due to its composition, less likely to chip. Most shellac manicures last 14 days or longer! Shellac is comprised of a "patent-pending formulation of solvents, monomers, and polymers." It is applied like nail polish and wears like a gel treatment. Shellac does not contain formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP and is hypo-allergenic, too.

What I love about Shellac nail polish is that my nails are beautifully shiny and without any chips or smudges. Some people call it a "mirror finish." For me, its literally the best of both worlds—it's a gorgeous, long-lasting manicure polish, and it gives me the ability to enjoy my natural nails without running back to the salon for a fill or enduring the torturous removal of fake nails!

Perhaps the best aspect, however, is the nearly instant drying time. You can literally reach into your purse for your keys within minutes of the application of the final coat of shellac nail polish. No more worrying about drying time, chips, or smudges!

I loved this review on Shine! at Yahoo:

"Our chemists invented a modern solution to the normal polish inconveniences that frustrate women," says CND co-founder and style director Jan Arnold. "Shellac is fret-free and convenient. Women can finally get their time back." How does Shellac get around the dry time? CND has created a special UV lamp that accommodates both hands and feet and cures the polish as you go. (The machines can easily be completely washed and sterilized between customers.) Shellac paints on just like a regular polish using specially formulated base coat, two layers of color, and top coat. After each coat of polish is applied, you put your hand under the timed lamp while the other hand is being painted. As soon as the manicurist is done with your nails, you can dig into your purse for your keys without any concern of smudging or chipping. They are 100 percent dry in the same time it takes for a normal manicure. I tried scratching at my nails, and even rubbing them along a brick wall--the polish stays put with a gorgeous, shiny finish.

Sound like a dream? Believe me—it's real!

What do you want in a Manicure?ShellacAcrylic or Other Fake NailsRegular Manicure









Resistant to chips




Easy to remove




No nail damage




Salon or At-Home?

You can do your own shellac nail manicure at home, or enjoy a salon treatment. For a professional manicure, prices range from $25-75, depending on your region. At a salon, you'll get a full manicure treatment including cuticle removal and nail shaping, plus the shellac nail polish.

Since shellac came out in 2010, nail polishes for DIY manicures are much more available. You can find shellac nail polish, base coat and top coat on line and at beauty supply shops. You might invest $100 up front for the professional dryer, plus nail treatments, but you'll get at least 10-15 polish changes as a result.

I had a hard time deciding between a neutral french-tip manicure and a fun nail polish color. To give me the most bang for the buck, I went with the shellac french manicure since I'll be wearing it for at least 2 weeks.

I also wondered about the cost of a professional salon manicure as opposed to doing it at home. I figured the extra cost was well worth it - at least at first. A shellac nail manicure is only about $10-20 more than a regular manicure and will last 2-3 times longer. Not to mention the fact that you don't have to worry about smudging it when you go to get your keys or answer the phone.

I'll probably go with a salon shellac nail manicure several more times before trying it at home. I must say that I am extremely happy with the results so far!

How Do You Remove Shellac Nail Polish?

Easy removal of shellac nail polish is another of its amazing attributes. You can remove the application in 10 minutes, using acetone-soaked wraps. Hate taking off fake nails? Me too! When it comes time to re-polish your shellac nails, you don't need to suffer any painful drilling or stripping of your nails.  Again, it is best to do this at a professional salon, however.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Dar on August 19, 2018:

can you put on 2 sets of coats of shellac back to back to make them stronger???? TIA.. =)

michelle on March 31, 2014:

I had these dont last Saturday and a week later amd god knows how many hours in a florist over mother s day I don't have ome chip

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 23, 2014:

That is a good question, Claire. Let me see what I can find out. The beauticians use UV light to "seal" the specialized shellac color, so it does not chip off as quickly as regular manicures.

Claire 1974 on January 23, 2014:

I work in healthcare is it safe to use shellac???

Jamie Brock from Texas on May 11, 2012:

HOW have I not heard of this!!!!! It sound fabulous.. thank you so much for sharing :)

ladeda on March 06, 2012:

I work in healthcare and am therefore constantly washing my hands. I love the Shellac polish, my nails don't break and the polish doesn't chip! However, I have found that it makes my natural nails a bit thinner, so I'm trying to make it a once in a great while special treat.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 29, 2012:

Hi August girl, yes, I have heard of that happening - kind of like with acrylic nails. My own nails get weak when I peel off the shellac, which is a habit I need to stop. Thanks for the comment. Best, Steph

August girl on February 29, 2012:

I started getting cnd shellac because polish won't stay on my nails at all. While it looks great and lasts long, it ruined my natural nails. It made them very thin and I had basically scratches from where they would scrape off the old polish after soaking. I would only do it again for special occasions.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on February 25, 2012:

Thanks SuzieQ - I agree, and I am a 100% shellac convert. No sense in even paying for any other type of manicure in my opinion! Best, Steph

SuzieQ on February 25, 2012:

I invested in the CND Shellac System in October of 2011 and have been using it exclusively since. I love the CND Shellac and have had no problems. I use exactly as directed and remove with CND Wraps. My manicure lasts at least two weeks and the color choices are beautiful. I even layer colors for variety. If you haven't tried the CND Shellac nail system, you are definitely behind in the newest manicure system. Love, love love

stessily on February 23, 2012:

Steph, Very interesting! Painted nails can be fun, and shellac makes the whole process easier.

Thanks for sharing.

Alex Crisano on November 11, 2011:

Wow! This is a great information. I wonder why I didn't found this on

carriethomson from United Kingdom on August 04, 2011:

great info! beautiful hub...going for a shellac nail manicure this week end.up and beautiful.


fashion on August 03, 2011:

This is very informative and beautiful hub.Thanks for sharing.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on August 01, 2011:

Thanks Cloverleaf! I hope you all get to try a shellac nail manicure. Next up for me.... a shellac pedicure! :)

Louise from Calgary, AB, Canada on August 01, 2011:

Hey Steph, I have never heard about a Shellac nail manicure before reading your hub. This is definitely something I will have to try out. I will forward your hub to all my friends too, I think they will appreciate the info :-)

Voted up and useful

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on July 25, 2011:

Good luck!! Shellac nails are the best!

caramellatte on July 25, 2011:

I like this hub! I want to try this.:-)

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on July 21, 2011:

Thanks amymarie and K9 - I have really enjoyed the shellac nails ever since I got them. Happy manicures and here's to beautiful, natural nails! :)

India Arnold from Northern, California on July 21, 2011:

Steph, this solves a real problem for active people who want beautiful nails, but struggle with finding the time to go back for filling and replacement nails at a salon. Very well presented and your french tips are gorgeous!

Thanks for sharing your Shellac secrets!



Amy DeMarco from Chicago on July 21, 2011:

I'm getting a manicure done this weekend. I never even heard of shellac until now. I can't wait to try it. Thanks for the info!

Darlene Yager from Michigan on July 08, 2011:

This sounds great! I may have to try it. My daughter uses inexpensive diy glue on nails that look great, and I don't mind them but I have been wanting my own nails done. And now I know how I want them done. Thanks! Nice hub.

drvosjeca on June 18, 2011:

i see you have some nice hubs here...

i will be following you from now on.

suejanet on June 15, 2011:

Good information. I may try this.

peanutroaster from New England on June 07, 2011:

Amazing shellac is made from ground beetles.

Genna East on May 31, 2011:

What a welcome relief and alternative to acrylic! This I will have to try. Thank you!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 29, 2011:

Thanks Prasetio - I hope your sister is interested and that she enjoys a shellac nails manicure! Best, Steph

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 28, 2011:

Nice information, Steph. I'll show this to my sister. I believe she will love this hub. Well done, my friend. You got my vote. Cheers....


Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 27, 2011:

Hi Triplet Mom - I am sorry to hear about your experiences with cracking and removal of the shellac. Very helpful for you to post that. I get the impression that after about 2 weeks, you should remove and/or replace the shellac, even if the manicure still "looks" good. And, I wonder if weaker nails would not fare as well as strong nails. Good luck and thanks! Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 27, 2011:

MPG Narratives - I love the idea of having a shellac manicure before vacation! I figure that I will have the treatment a few times a year - before special occasions like next weekend, before the holidays and before my birthday or anniversary. Glad to hear that your beautician is offering shellac manicures - another year or two and your daughter can enjoy them too! Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 27, 2011:

Hi StayPos, I think that's funny. I really just stumbled upon shellac the other day. I was going to have a traditional manicure and they offered shellac. I said, no, I don't want fake nails. Then I was pleasantly surprised that the treatment is on natural nails. Hope your wife enjoys the manicure! Cheers, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 27, 2011:

Hi Audrey - I'm with you. I'm not really a "nails" person because I am too busy (and perhaps lazy), but the shellac is a great option. I'm glad that my nails are already done for next weekend. Hope you enjoy it if you give it a try. Best, Steph

Triplet Mom from West Coast on May 27, 2011:

Great hub Steph! Its good to hear that some have had great experiences with shellac. I am one who has not. I also have a few friends that have had bad experiences with them as well. I like that the manicure lasts longer but the shellac basically destroyed my nails and once the shellac started to crack and chip it was incredibly hard to remove from my nail. Thanks for the detailed information, I might try the process again at a different location. Voted up!

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on May 27, 2011:

My beautician has started offering shellac and my daughter is so excited to be able to have them done (she's only 13 so I won't be letting her just yet).

Me, I already have strong nails so I will have my nails shellaced when I go to a special occasion like a wedding. Another good idea to have them done is when you go on holidays, no need to worry about your nails whilst your away!

Good article Steph, voted up and useful.

StayPos from Florida, USA on May 27, 2011:

Thanks Steph,

What a “coincidence”, my wife and I were just talking about this today! She was lamenting over the short life cycle of the traditional manicure.

Perhaps Shellac nails is her answer :-)

I’m pushing send now to surprise her with this great hub!

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on May 27, 2011:

Wow, Steph - actually a manicure that might last me more than 2 hours~! I'm such a 'hands on' gal and everything I do requires lots of my hands....I'm always dinging my manicure within hours on the rare occasions that I get them. I imagine it might be great for pedicures too - I have a little bit better time with those as I haven't figured out yet how to type, do dishes or work in the garden or clean with my feet~! Will have to try some of the DIY products and see how they last!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 27, 2011:

Thanks Stephanie! I was exactly the same way - had thought long and hard about putting acrylic nails back on. I hated the hassle and expense. I hope you enjoy shellac and your nails will look great for the wedding! Cheers, Steph

Stephanie Henkel from USA on May 27, 2011:

Your hub about shellac nails is so timely for me as I'm going to a wedding in a few weeks. My nails are rather a mess from gardening, and I debated about trying acrylic nails again. The shellac option sounds so much better! Thanks for a very informative hub!

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on May 27, 2011:

Thanks Philipo and Dexter - shellac does make for beautiful nails. Best, Steph

Dexter Yarbrough from United States on May 27, 2011:

Hi Steph! Great information. I am passing this along to my wife and daughters! Thanks.

Philipo from Nigeria on May 27, 2011:

Women's world. Beautiful.