Shellac or gel polish: what to choose

Shellac and gel polish have become the most popular decorative coatings in the nail design segment today. However, many people are interested in how they differ from each other if they look almost the same on the nails. Therefore, later in the article we will talk in detail about the features of these coatings, as well as answer the most asked questions, including those regarding their durability.

What is shellac?

Creative Nail Design, CND, or as everyone is more familiar with “shellac”, is a type of decorative nail coating that combines the properties of ordinary colored varnish and gel. Thanks to this combination, the result is a beautiful and, most importantly, durable manicure that lasts about 2 weeks on the nails. Shellac also has other benefits.


  • The ability to adjust the design without fear of quick drying, as shellac hardens exclusively in a special UV or LED lamp.
  • Significantly strengthens nails, smoothes them, and also gives them a glossy shine.
  • Shellac is a fairly light coating that does not weigh down the nail plates and thus does not cause discomfort.
  • It takes no more than 40 minutes to create a manicure.
  • It does not strip and does not flow under the cuticle, which makes it possible to use such a coating even for an inexperienced one.
  • Suitable for creating not only manicure, but also pedicure.

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Delicate design made with shellac

[stextbox id=’info’]Important! The pinnacle of the latest nail trends was occupied by the design of manicure and pedicure, made in the same style and the same color palette.[/stextbox]

One-color coating in 2019 will again be in demand

  • It is a non-toxic coating that can be used by allergy sufferers, as well as pregnant women.
  • A very extensive palette, which makes it possible to create a wide variety of designs.
  • It looks spectacular not only on long nails, but also on short ones.

Shellac on short nails

[stextbox id=’info’]Important! The only and significant drawback of CND coating is its considerable cost in relation to other decorative means.[/stextbox]

Both shellac and gel polish are used by pedicure masters

Shellac should be applied to a previously prepared and degreased plate with a brush, and then polymerized in a lamp for 30-60 seconds. In the end, everything is fixed by the finish line.

Shellac primer

[stextbox id=’info’]Interesting! Nail art masters, in their numerous reviews, recommend pre-coating the plate with a special primer or primer before applying a decorative coating in the form of shellac or gel polish. These tools increase the tenacity between the nail and the decorative tool, thereby extending the “life” of the manicure for another 1-2 weeks.[/stextbox]

Shellac on long nails

Features of gel polish

Gel polish in 2018 has become one of the most frequently used products in the nail industry segment. A kind of hybrid of gel and ordinary varnish, thanks to its ease of use, as well as a large assortment of shades, literally “bribed” manicure masters. In addition, gel polish has a number of other equally important advantages.

gel polish

  • High durability of the coating, which allows you to wear such a manicure for more than 3 weeks.
  • It polymerizes quickly in a lamp, and therefore the time for creating a manicure as a whole is about 40-60 minutes.
  • The coating does not crack or wear off, and the shine lasts throughout the entire time of wearing.
  • Does not contain allergens.
  • Allows you to create a wide variety of designs, ranging from a simple monochromatic coating to trendy art painting today.
  • Promotes nail growth by strengthening the nail plate and making it less brittle. In addition, in the process of wearing such a manicure, the nails change their shape, become wider and more rounded.
  • It does not require correction, therefore, you need to do a new manicure only when necessary.

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If the gel polish is applied incorrectly, chips at the ends of the nails will appear in a couple of days.

As for the shortcomings, if the application technique is not followed, the gel polish begins to chip off the nail literally on the 2nd day of wearing. Also, such a manicure requires proper treatment, so if your hands often come into contact with water or abrasive products, you must definitely use protective gloves.

Gel polish design

[stextbox id=’info’]Interesting! Another reason for premature peeling of gel polish is high sweating of the hands due to stress, hormonal failure, thyroid problems, or when taking antibiotics.[/stextbox]


Setting priorities

Looking through various photos with examples of manicure made with gel polish or shellac, it seems that these decorative nail coatings are no different from each other. However, this is absolutely not the case. Indeed, in addition to the fact that gel polish appeared much later than shellac, there are also a number of other significant differences. Below we will consider them in more detail.

  • Price. Shellac is considered quite expensive. As for gel polishes, now you can find both expensive lines and mid-range options.

To apply gel polish, the nail plate is pre-aligned

[stextbox id=’info’]Important! Most of the leading cosmetic brands in the mass market segment, based on the fashion trends of 2019, presented budget lines of gel polishes that are no different from luxury ones in quality.[/stextbox]

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  • Technics. Gel polish is applied to a previously prepared plate polished with a special buff. Thus, the nail is subjected to mechanical stress, due to which it is badly injured. In addition, gel polish should be applied in several layers, especially pastel and nude colors. Shellac, on the other hand, is a more pigmented coating and it is enough to apply only 1 layer to the nail.

Gel polish is most often applied in 2-3 layers

[stextbox id=’info’]Important! If the technique is not followed correctly, a fungus can get under the gel polish, which can cause irreparable damage to the nail.[/stextbox]

  • Strength. The percentage of gel in CND is much lower than regular varnish. But in gel polish, the basis is just the gel, and only after that the coloring pigment. This means that gel polish is much more durable and stronger to wear than its predecessor.

Have you tried doing a manicure with the original shellac?

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  • Withdrawal. Removing gel polish from the surface of the nails requires considerable effort. To begin with, a very strong agent is applied, which is kept on the nails for at least 15 minutes, and after that the coating is scraped off with an orange stick or a metal spatula. The remains of gel polish that could not be removed are filed with an abrasive file, which causes even more damage to the nail. As for shellac…

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