Thursday 18 September 2014


Hi lovelies! Some of you may have seen my previous 'Confessions Of A Beauty Therapist post, all about becoming a beautician, so if that's something you'd be interested in, you can check that out here. Today though, I wanted to talk about Shellac or Gel Nails as I have a lot of clients as well as some of you guys asking me on a regular basis what they are, how they work and generally just wanting more info on the treatment, so, today I thought I'd write up a little info for you all, so that you can decide whether or not gel nails are for you.

To start off, I'd like to clear something up. When I say 'gel nails', what I mean is gel polish. The difference between classic gel and gel polish is that the original gel products are an acrylic product, however gel polish is a lacquer that is applied over the natural nail. I don't personally use acrylic gel, so I this post, when I say gel nails I am referring to gel polish. Another thing I'd like to make clear, a lot of people ask me the difference between shellac and gel nails and to be honest there is no difference. Shellac is simply a brand of gel nail lacquer, just like Gelish, Jessica Geleration or Gellux. All have a similar application and removal process, the only real difference is the brand. Some may find certain brands work better for them, just as with regular nail polish. So, if a salon offers 'gel nails', chances are they are offering a gel polish manicure with a product such as shellac, but if you're unsure it's always good to check.

Gel polish is applied in thin layers and cured under a UV or LED lamp after each coat. First, your nails will be prepped, filing, buffing etc, some salons will involve some cuticle work too, but if your nails need a lot of work, it may be an idea to ask to book in for a full manicure with gel finish as generally gel nail treatments do not include much manicure other than shaping, buffing and pushing cuticles back. Your nails will then be wiped to ensure there is no oil on the nail, a primer is then generally applied befor base coat (some salons/ brands do not use a primer), a base coat is then applied and cured under the lamp. Each coat of colour is then cured individually under the lamp and the a top coat is applied and cured. Finally, the sticky residue is wiped away with a cotton pad and nail cleanser and then your nails are finished, super shiny and 100% dry! 

When your gel manicure is finished, you are then free to go about your day as normal, as there is no dry time with gel nails. Gel nails are a lot more long wearing than regular polish and properly applied, it generally will not chip. The only reason you may find that your manicure chips or flakes, is if your nails are flaky or peeling underneath. Usually though, chipping should not be an issue unless you are particularly hard on your nails. Generally, I would say that most gel manicures tend to last 10 days to 2 weeks before they need removing or replacing, as the nails will start to grow out and you'll get a line of regrowth around the cuticles. Some people can go longer than this, others, particularly if your nails aren't in great condition to begin with, may need them redone sooner. To get the most out of a gel manicure, it is a good idea to try to get your nails in good condition first, so booking in for regular manicures or even just using a cuticle oil at home will help to improve your natural nails. 

A question I get asked all the time is 'will shellac/ gel ruin my nails?' and my answer is always the same. If they are applied and removed properly, they should have no effect on your natural nails. Some people complain that their nails were ruined by gel polish, however, pretty much every time someone complains of this, it is due to improper removal. Gel needs to be removed using acetone and it just be soaked off. This can be at home or in the salon and is very easy to do. You can sit your nails in acetone to soak them, however this can be dying to the skin, so the way I do it (and recommend my clients do it, if they wish to remove them at home), is the cotton and foil method. To do this, you buff over the gel to remove the shine, then soak small pieces of cotton wool in acetone, then place it on the nail, then wrap the fingertips with tin foil. (You can look this up on youtube for a visual demonstration). This should remove all traces of gel in around 15 minutes. If the gel does not come away easily, you will need to wrap them for slightly longer - never pick or pull gel from your nails. The number one reason for damaged nails after a gel mani is when clients peel the gel off the nails, as this can remove layers of the natural nail. After a couple of weeks, the product may seem to come away easily when you pick at it, but avoid temptation! If you find your colour is lifting, get soaking!

Personally, I find that gel nails actually improve the quality of my nails, as the gel provides a fairly thick, protective layer over the natural nail, meaning they are less likely to break or split when accidentally knocked. I also find that my nails grow much quicker and much longer when I have gel on them, as they are protected and therefore don't break off! Working as a beauty therapist as well, I feel it's nice to have nice looking nails and with a regular polish, I'd generally be worried about chipping and flaking, which is definitely not a good look. However, with a gel manicure I don't have to worry as out that at all.

If you are unsure about whether or not shellac/ gel is right for you, there are a few things to consider. If you're happy to stick to one colour for a couple of weeks and don't like having to touch up chipped nails, or hate waiting for your nails to dry, then gel nails really are a godsend. I absolutely love that I can do my nails then not have to think about them for two weeks. However, if you like to switch up your colour a lot, they may not be for you, as regular nail polish remover will not touch gel nails and it does need soaking to be removed. However, normal nail polish can be applied over gel nails for a quick change and provided you remove it with an acetone free remover, you won't affect your mani at all.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever had gel nails? Do you like them?
Let me know! 



  1. This is really helpful! I have heard so many people whom have had shellac/gel nails done and complaining about the poor condition it has left their nails, with the colour only lasting a week - whereas others are obsessed with it! I think it definitely depends on where you go, yet soaking it off at home seems like a good idea - thanks for the tips! <3
    xoxo, | Beauty & Lifestyle Blog 

  2. This is really helpful, I currently have gel polish on both my nails and toenails as I'm on holiday and was wondering how to correctly remove it! I love having gel nails however my nails grow really fast so the gap between the gel and my skin is really apparent but it's so useful to have whilst on holiday! xo

  3. Such a nice and clear explanation! I personally love gel polish and do it myself at home. However it always ends up peeling of by itself and then I have to pick to the parts that don't peel. I'll try the cotton and foil method next time!!!
    great post!!
    Alice|Alice's Beauty Madness

  4. wow thanks for all the details and clear explanation, you really took time and effort for this post! :)
    I'm not much into gel polish haha I'm so lazy with my nails!

  5. Oh it is so good to know that Gel or Shellac won't ruin your nails if removed properly, ive seen so many say their nails are awful after using that it put me off x

  6. Lots of great info. thanks. I haven't tried gel nails. I used to have tips all the time, but had a bad experience and go all natural now. I may try this, as I don't like the looks of my nails.

  7. Great help and advice! I always have gel nails and love them.


  8. I had gel nails before and they are beautiful, but I wanna change my nail color once a week. Being with one color for 3 weeks is too much for me. I enjoy doing my nails ;) xo's

    Pink frenzy

  9. I kinda like gel nail lacquers, an interesting read, thanks.

  10. This is a great post! So many of my friends get gel nails done and try to convince me to but I just love my acrylics x


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