Should You Try Shellac?

I finally did—and it was pretty much the shiz!
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I finally did—and it was pretty much the shiz!

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.

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.


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:


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:

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?