Shellac Manicures: An Honest Opinion (Updated)

About a year ago, I wrote a lengthy post detailing my thoughts on a new kind of manicure: the Shellac manicure. I wrote about its pros and cons, and how I thought it compared to the other competitor on the market at that time, OPI’s Axxium gel polish.

The post literally figuratively blew up. Everyone from Shellac users to Axxium users to nail technicians wrote their thoughts in the comments of that post, and I’m still getting updates one year later–it has now become something of a resource or forum for people (thanks to very helpful comments sharing honest reviews).

As an avid shellac fan, and literally dozens of shellac manicures later, I thought I would come back and share my thoughts after one solid year of having Shellac manicures. (This is in no way affiliated with any of the brands mentioned by the way, just thought I would share my thoughts with you guys.)

If she/he is grinding shellac off of your nails, stay far away!

Overall, I’m supremely happy with the Shellac experience. I think the bottom line is that it is super important that you find a nail technician that follows the instructions to the letter. If she/he is grinding shellac off of your nails, stay far away! If they are letting your fingers soak in a bowl of acetone, stay far away (they are supposed to use special foils around each individual nail so as to protect the hands and cuticle a bit more).

I love, love, LOVE my nail gal: her name is Ruth and I followed her from Polished Day Spa to Just Wax It. If you live in the Houston area, there is no better person to do your manicure or pedicure. She’s a perfectionist, which in my opinion is so valuable in a nail artist!

Most notably, I have found that Shellac isn’t as benign for your nails as they would like you to think. Although for the most part my nails were in better condition with Shellac than without it, after a particularly stressful 3-4 months, when my nails became weak and brittle, they did not handle the shellac polish as they did before, and I saw much more chips and peeling more frequently, than I had ever experienced before. (If this happens to you, I suggest taking a prenatal vitamin – it takes months to see the results, but your nails and hair will be healthier than they’ve ever been before.) So I found I needed to take a “breather” from Shellac for 2 months, and that did the trick. My nails (and stress level) had both recovered by then, and I’m happily back to Shellac again.

Also, I find that changing my polish once every 2 to 3 weeks is much less damaging to my cuticles than changing the regular polish every 3-4 days (as is often the case for me with regular polish).

Below, I rounded up a sample of my Shellac manicures over the past year (from Instagram, follow me @prettyshinysparkly). I even wore Shellac on my wedding day!