DIY Shellac Nails - Tips and Advice

Shellac Nails From Home

Young woman painting toenails
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Shellac nail polish is the hottest thing in the nail industry right now. If you're not sure what makes Shellac nail polish so different from the rest, take a second and read our Shellac FAQ's written by nail professional, Hillary Fry. It gives you all the info on Shellac and some great pictures of a few of the colors.

We have a page set up for readers to send in reviews of their Shellac manicures, and we got a great one from Erica, a DIY Shellac-er.

Here is part of her comment on doing Shellac at home:

In most of the reviews, I've read about not being able to apply Shellac yourself. Honestly, it is just polishing your nails. The CND site gives direction and updates on the best practices to the product. It's easy and so incredibly inexpensive to purchase it yourself vs. paying per visit. I am not in the beauty industry... am not typically into the do it yourself but the first time I had it done at my salon as a test case I loved it and I have had excellent luck at home.

I did a little searching and found most of the polish options online, ready for anyone to purchase. And the UV lamp you need to cure the nails, too!  All these products are easily purchased via Amazon. (Though, in reading reviews, it appears people have luck with some of the cheaper UV lamps that aren't specifically from Creative Nail Design, the creator of Shellac. Just do your research.)

How Much Does an At-Home Shellac Manicure Cost?

If you're curious what would cost to get all of the Shellac supplies at home, here's a breakdown.

  • Color: The cost of the polish is about $13 to $15 per bottle.
  • Top and Base Coat: You'll need a base coat and top coat, each the same price as a color.  
  • UV lamp: Shellac polish cures under a UV lamp. You can actually find a UV lamp for as little as $10, but I suggest investing a little bit more. A best-selling UV lamp on Amazon with many excellent reviews only costs $40.

    For one color, base and top coat and the UV lamp you're looking at spending about $80. Shellac manicures cost approximately $40-$50, so after only two at-home Shellac manicures will have you breaking even. Not bad if you can afford the initial investment. Adding to your initial investment, if you want, would be the CND polish remover, but it only costs $9, so it doesn't add much to your bottom line.

    The Cons of DIY'ing Shellac

    • Research: You'll have to learn from others, finding reviews and instructions online to make sure that your manicure turns out as well as a professional one would. Make sure you take time to research to avoid problems. CND's website has loads of info.  
    • No help from the nail pros: If your Shellac manicure starts peeling, as some reviews state, or you see any new problems with your nails while using Shellac, you're on your own to figure it out what went wrong.
    • Color options: If you get them done in the salon, you'll get to choose from all of the Shellac colors, not just the one that you spent big bucks on and then realize you hate. In order to always have a range of colors available you'll need to invest more money.
    • Might not look professional: Let's face it, there are those who can color their hair at home and make it look like they spent hundreds of dollars at the salon. Then, there are others who aren't fooling anyone with their at-home hair color. Same goes for nail polish. Practice is definitely needed here in order for your manicure to turn out looking good.

      Our advice: go get a Shellac manicure at the salon and watch what your nail tech does carefully each step of the way. See what you think of the results both right away and after two weeks. If you're not sure you can do it yourself, don't waste the money. But if you love it and want to take the time to research it and practice, go for it!

      Updated by Hanah Tetro