Thursday, 23 February 2012

Gel vs Shellac

Hey Sweetie pies

So downstairs from me is a hair and nail place they just recently
advertised they were doing shellac. I had heard of shellac before but
wasn't sure what it was apart from that it lasted 2-3 weeks on your nails.
Then a few days later I watch a video by allthatglitters21 which was about
gel nails and they also last 2-3 weeks. I started wondering well whats the
difference between gel and shellac then. If they both last 2 - 3 weeks on
your nails.

Off I went on a mission to find out searching all the information I could
get my hands on. I found out that there alot off differences between
them. I thought I would share it all with you.

What is a gel manicure ?

A gel manicure is were a gel polish is applied to the nail. It claims that it doesn't chip for 2 - 3 weeks depending on the individual.

Are the claims true ?

I personally haven't had a gel or a shellac manicure myself but I have seen
for myself that it hasn't chipped instead it has peeled away from the cuticle. Also I noticed that the nails had not torn nor have broken or snagged. It had protected the nail from any harm. I found out later that it provides support for your nail and flex's rather then snaps.

                                                             picture from CND website

So what is the difference between shellac and gel ?

First thing is the formulation is different. Gel is a mixture of gel and pigment were as shellac is a mixture of polish and gel. Although the formulation doesn't sound like a big difference , it can contribute to slight differences in how it wears long term. Natural nails are different on every person.

Next thing is the application is different. With shellac there is no prep to the natural nail. No etching and No buffing. With gel you prep the nail.

You can't extend with shellac as its more like a polish but wears like a gel.
Also shellac is hypoallergenic and 3 free too... which no gel can claim this.

What is hypoallergenic and 3 ?

Hypoallergenic, meaning "below normal" or "slightly" allergenic. It is used to describe items in cosmetics and textiles that cause or are claimed to cause fewer allergic reactions.

3 is chemicals Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde and Toluene.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) is a plasticiser to prevent chips and cracks. DBP is an oily liquid that is soluble in fat and slightly soluble in water. It is not very volatile so it does not evaporate readily into the atmosphere.

Over 75% of DBP is used as a plasticiser in polymers such as PVC, 14% is
used in adhesives, 7% in printing inks and 3% in other miscellaneous uses,
including sealants and grouting agents used in construction as well as consumer products such as cosmetics.

Formaldehyde does not exist in nail polish. It is used in some nail hardeners but not in the actual polish. A resin, tosylamide/formaldehyde resin, makes the polish tough and resilient. While the resin is manufactured from formaldehyde, once the product becomes a resin, the formaldehyde is chemically changed and essentially no longer present. So while formaldehyde is grouped in with toluene and DBP in marketing statements and considered one of the Big 3, it isn’t actually an issue unless you have a reaction to the formaldehyde resin. You should be aware of formaldehyde in your treatment
products, not polish.

Toluene (methylbenzene, toluol, phenylmethane) is a solvent that makes the polish easy to apply. It is an aromatic hydrocarbon commonly used as an industrial solvent for the manufacturing of paints, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and rubber. Toluene is found in gasoline, acrylic paints, varnishes, lacquers, paint thinners, adhesives, glues, rubber cement, air plane glue, and shoe polish. At room temperature, toluene is a colourless, sweet smelling, volatile

David Barton says " it's a hybrid system that bring all the properties of polish and the properties of gel to make this fantastic revolutionary nail system. it will change the face of nail polish. "

His tips are to wear rubber gloves when you wash up and to apply a nail
cuticle oil. Other then that go on your everyday life.

What is the process for shellac ?

1. Perform a manicure eg shape the nail into your desired shape.
Wipe with a nail cleanser (scrubfresh however when I typed that into amazon I could not find one but I did find a similar product called nail perfection uv gel wipe & cleanser for gel nails) using a lint free wipe (200 lint free nail wipes). It's not necessary to buff your nail so skip this step.

2. Apply a thin layer of shellac uv base coat 
(you will need both top and base coat get both at the same time here
and cure for 10 seconds under a uv lamp
(here is one but you can look around).

3. Apply a thin coat of shellac uv colour. This layer will be semi sheer if correctly applied. Cure under uv lamp for 2 minutes.

4. Then apply again a thin coat of shellac uv colour. This layer will provides full coverage if you are using a opaque colour. Cure for 2 minutes.

5. Apply one thin layer of shellac uv top coat. cure for another 2 minutes.

6. Then wipe your nail with a lint free pad soaked 99% Isopropyl alcohol.
Condition the nail with a oil.

                                                                 pictures from amazon

What is the process of the shellac removal ?

1. Wash your hands then apply Lint free pad soaked in acetone to the nail.
You can also buy shellac remover wrap and soak that in acetone instead. But that can get expensive. So if you decide to go the lint free pad way apply foil round your finger and try to keep it as tight as possible so the acetone doesn't dry out or it wont work. Do not dip and soak you fingers in acetone.

2. Leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes apply slight pressure to the fingernail twist and pull off the foil or wrap.

3. Using a orange stick scrape the remaing product.

4. Rub the nail using a lint free pad soaked with acetone to remove any product residue.

How long does it take to get shellac done ?

It depends on the place, uv lamp (if they have led it takes fraction of them time) and depends if the colour requires muliple coats. I have heard it can take 30 minutes to 1 hour.

How much does shellac cost ?

The place near me thats advertising it cost £20. It ranges were you go or if you have someone come to your home and apply it for you. Personally I wouldn't spend £20 on a manicure every 2 weeks I would rather do it myself.

What if I want to change the colour before my 2 weeks are up ?

You can use normal nail polish over the top of the shellac just make sure to use a acetone free nail polish remover if you don't want to remove your shellac.

You can not be mixed with or layered with other brands base coat, top coat or there colours if you do it can compromise the quailty.

How many colours are they for shellac ?

At this moment there are 50 colour and 15 nail effects.

                                                           picture is from CND website

Where can I purchase shellac ?

you can buy from ebay and amazon but there is a website that is the offical UK distrubuter called sweet squared.

I think that is everything but if you have any questions you can comment below or send me a message to my email.


Hope you enjoyed my post feel free to comment/follow.


  1. Very helpful post :-)
    I have been wondering the difference for awhile now.

    Holli x

  2. I really want to try this! I have a Dior iveaway going on, come and check! xxx

  3. Me to but forking out 20 quid
    I have looked into buying it though as I like my nails done and hate chips
    I hate having to paint my nails every 3 days but it ain't cheap colours are £15 - £20
    I might go and treat myself and try it in the future x

  4. I've been looking into Shellac, informative post :)

    P.S. I hope you dont mind, I tagged you in my 11 Beauty Questions Post :)