I finally got Shellac’d—and it was pretty much the shiz

CND Shellac Hybrid Nail Color

So I FINALLY got around to test-driving CND’s new in-salon nail treatment, Shellac—which I’m sure most of you have no doubt heard of by now.

If not, the lowdown is this: CND claims that Shellac will give you up to 14 or more days of gloriously chip-free wear, thanks to a revolutionary new formula that gets painted on just like a regular polish. Oh, and it FEELS like you’re wearing a regular polish too—in case you have visions of this turning your nails into super-stiff, fake-looking acrylic numbers. Nein.

I had the job done at Toronto’s Catherine J. salon (a little hidden away place in the Hilton Hotel) and the process went like this:

My Shellac Experience

1. First, you choose a colour.

shellac polish colours I finally got Shellacd—and it was pretty much the shiz

There are 12 (with more coming out in September). I recommend, though, that you stick with a really pale neutral if you want to wear this any longer than the two weeks. I did a pale pink because there’s the least amount of contrast between it and your natural nail colour as your nails grow out. (I also get sick of bright colours easily and require coordination with my toes at all times.)

2. Then your esthetician cleans up your nails. A LOT.

This is arguably the most important step in the whole process. She removes old polish, shapes and buffs away ALL TRACES of peeling or flakiness. That’s because if any chips happen, it will be because the nail bed wasn’t prepared properly. Don’t let her soak your nails either, especially if yours are weak, like mine.

3. Now, time for the Shellac.

clear nail polish I finally got Shellacd—and it was pretty much the shiz

She paints on a base coat, two coats of the Shellac polish and a top coat—just like a regular manicure. The only difference is that in between each coat you have to stick your hand in a UV light machine that looks like this:

Shellac UV light I finally got Shellacd—and it was pretty much the shiz

This helps the polish to set.

4. Annnnnnd you’re done.

Seriously. Your nails will be dry as soon as you take your paws out of the UV machine, so there’s none of that awkwardness where you’re trying to avoid touching anything or asking the esthetician to help you get your wallet, keys, etc.

They will look super-shiny too, reaching their maximum shininess potential (according to my esthetician) about one hour later, and retaining it for as long as you keep the polish on.

The Verdict

I forgot to take a picture early on, but I’m at day 19 now:

shellac I finally got Shellacd—and it was pretty much the shiz

They were longer before, but I got a tiny chip around day 12 or so, and a snag about five days after that, so I ended up just trimming and filing them back to their usual short, rounded shape. (That they lasted that long before the chip/snag is actually pretty impressive for me as I officially have the Weakest Nails on the Planet.) Also, I think I would have filed them down anyway as I didn’t love how long they were growing—and now I think I can maybe get another week in.

Oh! And did I mention THIS? If you get bored with your colour, you can paint over Shellac with a regular nail polish, and then safely remove it with a regular remover.

Removing Shellac

Once you’re ready to remove the Shellac, you do need to go back to the salon, which admittedly seems like kind of a pain—but I’m told it takes just 10 minutes to remove the polish, all without harsh chemicals or any of the buffing you get with other types of long-lasting nail systems (which aren’t so nice for weak nails).

The price starts at $35 and up and you can find a list of salons who do it here.

Worth it? A BIG YES if you’re a flaky-nailed, chip-prone girl like me.

Have you tried Shellac? Thoughts? Has it changed your life or are you OK with going DIY?


Karen (healthandswellness.com)
Thursday, July 29/2010 at 7:26 pm

I LOVE it. I’m totally chip-prone and it has changed my life!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 5/2010 at 2:58 pm



Saturday, July 31/2010 at 6:35 am

I love this product. I am going in today for my second shellac. It does really last!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, August 5/2010 at 2:58 pm

Yep – would be great for travel or a special event like a wedding!


Sunday, December 19/2010 at 6:51 pm

I’m not into acrylic nails but this shellac is amazing. I’m on week three, ihave a nice light pink color on to match my natural nail. I have put this stuff through the works,I cleaned my house, bathed my boxer keo, and have been swimming for an hour almost everyday. It has far exceeded my expectations I recommend it to anyone, it does exactly what it claims to do!


Sunday, May 1/2011 at 12:23 am

I have had my since wednesday and on friday i had two nails completely chip off. I paid 40 bucks to have it done and it barely lasted 48 hours completely a waste. the nails that chipped weren’t even on my dominant hand and so i beleive this product is crap and a massive waste of hard earned money!!!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Sunday, May 1/2011 at 5:27 pm

Oh wow! I wonder though if there was an error in how it was applied, instead of Shellac itself.


Monday, June 13/2011 at 9:49 am



Thursday, January 26/2012 at 10:23 pm

I had shellac done about 5 times at the salon. They were great lasting 3 weeks without chipping. The key is to find a good nail technician. A friend and I went halfs and bought a shellac system I cannot do as well as the salon in applying it but do well enough. It lasts 2 weeks which is great. I have saved a great amount of money off the cost of going to the salon plus a tip ($35). We’ve definetly saved money and still haven’t had to invest more money in more products.


Thursday, May 5/2011 at 11:57 pm

I had the same experience as Heather… The shellac felt sort of rubbery & sticky (although yes, it was fully set), and began to lift & peel at the bottoms of all the nails after 2 days. 2 days after this, I’ve now easily peeled off most of it, but my nails underneath are totally shot. The shellac has lifted the top layer of almost every nail off in parts, leaving a lumpy, bumpy, peeling natural nail. Sad. Won’t do that again.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Thursday, May 12/2011 at 12:04 am

Definitely sounds like improper application. It shouldn’t feel sticky at all.


Friday, August 19/2011 at 6:35 pm

Most definitely was applied incorrectly. I work in a small town and have acquired new clients after a botched job of shellac applications from other techs. Also, if they were sticky afterward, the wrong bulb wattage makes a difference. Unfortunately some techs are also trying to use inferior products. Can’t blame them for trying to save money though! And if you remove your gels or acrylics, your natural needs a little recovery before shellac. I have found that if I apply shellac right after removal of enhancements , they can return the following week for an app. of top coat only . Hope this helps! Don’t give up on shellac yet!


Sunday, January 22/2012 at 7:37 pm

i had that happen to me, come to find out not all salons carry the cnd brand and if its not cnd its not going to last!!!


Thursday, May 12/2011 at 3:02 pm

Also had a bad experience with Shellac. I tried doing french and had two chips within four days. I went to another salon and did a light color and had my first chip at day six. Will be putting my acrylics back on.


Donnatella Alexander
Sunday, May 15/2011 at 8:32 pm

Don’t go to the same manicurist for your acrylics – it’s got to be something in the application. Shellac should NOT chip or peel (unless you actually chip your nail, then of course the polish will chip). Nail prep and proper application and you should be set.


Friday, July 1/2011 at 3:21 pm

I loved Shellac I got it done for the first time 5 days ago though by day 3 I had chips in the shellac and I went to such a horrid place they wouldn’t fix it. I’ll definately get shellac again when I can afford it but definately not from there.


Saturday, July 9/2011 at 3:27 pm

I am on day 13 and not a chip anywhere. I had the french tips done and they still look great. The only sad part is my nail is growing and the new growth is starting to show . I am going to try my own base coat and she is I can fill that in and wait another week. Shellac nails are great. I had acrylics for years and when I took them off my nails were damaged. Shellac does not make your look fake like acrylics its very natural looking. Love Love Love them!


Monday, July 11/2011 at 9:35 pm

All right girls, here is the “low low” on the gel polishes, as i have experienced it. I have had three different manicures in a salon and two that I did at home with some gel polish and a UV lamp that I ordered off the internet. The Shellac brand is NOT the best out there, but it is CERTAINLY not the worst either. If you have a choice, try “Gellish.” I got more than 3 weeks of chip-free wear out of a french manicure with that brand of UV polish. Don’t get me wrong, If the technician doesn’t know what she’s doing, she can screw up any brand, but the girl who did the last Gellish french told me it was her first time actually doing it, and it was great. I would NOT recommend Nobility competition gel polish, it is thick and kind of gummy and has a tendency not to set well. If you have already bought it, cut the last third or so of the end of the brush off so that it can’t hold all that polish– it is a disaster if it goes on too thick, as it just peels right off. Hope this helps!


Friday, August 12/2011 at 8:44 pm

I’m on day 14 of my first Shellac manicure and not a chip in sight. I had a couple of snags but I gently filed them and the color/polish still looks great.

I would do this again but not for a while as my manicurist told me it can dry your nails out doing it too often.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, August 13/2011 at 4:46 pm

Yes, I find it leaves my nails quite dry. :-(


monika kobal
Friday, September 9/2011 at 8:33 pm

If you wait two weeks, the shellac will peel off easily. Start at the cuticle end, (where the nail starts to push up) lift the polish, and it will peel off. Easy don’t need to use anything harsh to remove it. I removed all 10 nails in 10 minutes. It’s like lifting off tape. the base coat and polish just left off.


monika kobal
Friday, September 9/2011 at 8:36 pm

You don’t lift the nail off, just the shellac, no damage to the nail. It’s great.


Friday, September 16/2011 at 8:05 am

Okay, after 4 shellac manicures by 4 people, here’s my take: Love it (BUT!!). It lasted a full 2 weeks–and would definitely go longer except cuticle grow out too obvious with colored paint. Sealing the edge of the nail on every coat seems to be the key. BUT: 3 of the 4 salons buffed the heck out of my *healthy* nails beforehand though I said I thought the point was that they don’t have to be buffed. The 2nd one didn’t buff & they still lasted 14+ days. 4th place didn’t seal the edge & they were liftng & breaking by the very next day. I took them CND’s application instructions that said don’t buff & seal every coat, but the salon owner said her CND Shellac trainer said that if they didn’t buff they would have to use bonder (they used the black COARSE one too). I removed it myself–piece of cake.(1st one removed it with BOILING acetone!) Now my nails are very thin & splitting due to all the buffing. Just ordered polish, top/base coats & manicure UV light from Amazon & will do it myself because it’s FABULOUS when done right. I think Shellac reputation is in trouble if they don’t do some follow up on complaints like this. CND, are you listening?


Tuesday, September 20/2011 at 2:37 pm

I love shellac. The downfall is, it’s expensive. The plus side is, it’s great for natural nails. Shellac lasts atleast 2 weeks for me. I decided to purchase a UV nail dryer and shellac from a beauty supply store. The dryer was around $30 and shellac paints are usually around $17. If your nails are drying out, maybe put some cuticle oil on them and give it a couple days inbetween painting.


Wednesday, September 21/2011 at 10:34 am

I do love shellac, when it’s done right. My initial application lasted 3 weeks with no chipping. That application was CND. Then found a little cheaper place. They offered CND and OPI. I chose a neutral OPI color, so the growth wouldn’t be as noticable-plus OPI has coordinating polishes to retouch where there’s growth. Don’t know if I should be blaming OPI or the technician, but after 3 applications, my nails have never been in worse shape. She did remove the old shellac with the soaked cotton ball/foil wrap method, followed by a lot of scraping. This process took about 40 minutes each time. The last application peeled off after one week. My nails are now very thin and weak. They tear very easily. Now I don’t know what to use to help strengthen them and get them back to my normal, healthy nails. Any suggestions?


Friday, October 21/2011 at 11:03 pm

Go to a reputable salon and try again. I found an amazing technician at an inexpensive nail salon. My last application of CND Black lasted 3 WEEKS!!!!


Saturday, January 7/2012 at 3:37 am

My salon refuses to use the OPI due to nail damage. I was thrilled with the CND.


Sunday, November 6/2011 at 2:25 pm

I got mine done for the first time yesterday, so far I love them. Normally nail polish on my nails would chip within hours but it’s been 24 hours and all is well so far. Even if this lasts a week I’ll be happy!


Friday, December 9/2011 at 10:52 am

I just did shellac for the first time this week, I did a french manicure and am on Day 3 and while I love the shine and the strength its added to my nails, they look like fake nails, anyone looking at my nails will think they are acrylic :( I think Im just going to try a pale pink next time and see if thats any better.


Friday, December 9/2011 at 10:18 pm

I think they may have applied it a little thicker than needed….but the polish gives your natural nail a flawless “fake nail” appearance . I have been applying shellac for several months now and everyonce in a while run it to clients that can’t keep it on…???…also just as a fyi it easily peels off if picked and peeled but will last 3+++ weeks with out peeling if left alone. Even with my hands in the remover All day my shellac still looks great. I love it and recommend it to any & everyone.


Saturday, January 7/2012 at 9:54 am

I have done shellac several times. I love it! I have worn it for 3 weeks with no chipping, it just grew out. I decided to do French manicure this time so I can just fill in with a base coat and see how long it will last. I got it at a different Salon because mine did not offer French manicure in shellac. I have had a little wear around the tips of my nails after a week. I am extremely rough on my nails so I am still pleased. My nails are very thin and fragile and have never been able to grow them out before shellac.


Mimi L.
Thursday, January 19/2012 at 1:54 pm

As a professional Nail Tech, the Shellac brand is great. But again it is not for all clients. Clients that do housekeeping, cooks and so forth work harder on their hands and Shellac does not hold up. On the other hand, teachers, administrative and office employees, seem to have their Shellac polishes last longer. The overall quality is great but I do agree with Heather. The Gelish brand wears longer and has a glass finish. The application is similar.

As far as technique, gel polishes should not touch cuticles. Proper seal will have gel polishes last so much longer. There is no need for harsh buffing to ensure gel polishes wear longer.

As far as Shellac, trying to correct nail tech’s application techniques, good luck! Every salon has their own techniques of how they want certain products applied. Every brand has a technique. Each has a pro and con. Think about it. Monopolizing the brand to exclusively only use one technique and products will only lose in sales. Hence, the promos and sales price decrease.


Sunday, February 12/2012 at 1:25 pm

I get a manicure once or twice a year (I’m THAT cheap/broke)–I splurged ($25) for shellac – I got a dark color that is SO not me! LOVED IT–got one snag on day 13, no chips, but my mistake was getting a dark color, as I can’t afford to get it done regularly. I’m on day 15 and they look good, but have grown out, so I’m hoping to paint over them. I hear that a lot of people have dry brittle nails after removing shellac–Acetone attacks fatty lipids and a 10 min soak in the stuff WILL damage your nails. I would recommend shellac, although maybe not the removal process–do it in a light color so it can grow out less noticeably if you’re cheap/broke like me. It was a fabulous treat and I’m thrilled that the shop did such a great job! I had no idea if they did or not, and after reading the below I’m convinced they rock!


Saturday, March 31/2012 at 9:15 am

I have worn acrylcs for years. My nails were so thin I think paper is thicker. My hair stylist told me about CND and I LOVE IT. I first had it done by my hair stylist in a clearly pink and it lasted 3 weeks. I went back a second time and had a french manicure. The white did chip a little. My stylist used the cotton ball soaked in acetone method to remove the polish. It worked for her.

I was so happy with the product that I bought a CND UV dryer, top and bottom coates and clearly pink polish. As I am not a nail technician I wanted to be sure I got exactly what was supposed to be used. I didn’t want to have to worry that the bulb in the dryer was correct or not.

I have had great success with the application of the product. My nails look great for at least two weeks. However, I dislike the removal method.

I found Gellish at my local beauty salon outlet. It said SOAK OFF. So I bought a started kit for $49.00. It is so NO CND Shellack. It is thick, gunky and took 30 minutes of soaking and then scraping to get it off. I had to rough up my nails with a file before I applied it. This was a huge mistake.

Of course I tried this just at the point that my nails were growing in thick and strong after the years of acrylics with the help of CND Shellack. Now I am back to the beginning trying to grow my nails out again. The Shellack had worked so well that my natural nails were finally coming in nice and strong.

So I am going to order the CND removal pads. They are more expensive than the cotton ball method, but I am petting they work much better. Everything else they make that I have tried has been excellent.


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