Shellac Manicures Are All Rage: Are They Worth the Hype

CND Shellac Manicure
My CND Shellac Manicure after two weeks.

You've likely heard about a CND Shellac manicure by now. It promises zero-drying time and shiny, polished nails that last for up to two weeks. I've previously tried a gel manicure and wasn't a fan due to the fact I basically had to scrape my nails to get all the remnants of gunk off. I was reluctant to try the CND Shellac manicure. Read on to find out how it performed.

What is a Shellac Manicure?

According to the CND website, a Shellac manicure is a, "patent-pending formulation of solvents, monomers and polymers" that are "hypo-allergenic...

containing no formaldehyde, toluene or DBP." The website claims that there's no drying time, and that nails have a "14 Day Wear Mirror Finish". During a CND Shellac manicure at a salon (find a salon that does a CND Shellac Manicure), you don't soak your nails first. Your manicurist will file and shape your nails and may push back your cuticles. Oil is not generally used as it can interfere with the polish adhering to your fingers. Nails are painted with a base coat, at least two coats of color, and a top coat. In between layers, you insert your hand into a UV lamp to dry the polish for 30 to 60 seconds. The process takes about 45 minutes. At the end, your nails are completely dry with no extra drying time at the end.

How Long Does the Shellac Manicure Last?

I've had the CND Shellac manicure twice and both times it lasted the two weeks as promised. The polish stays super shiny and doesn't chip.

My biggest problems with it are the way it looks at the base of my nails — you can definitely see where the color starts and stops as my nails have grown out — and my cuticles do start to look ragged. I miss the TLC given to them during a regular manicure.

What Are the Downsides to the Shellac Manicure?

Aside from the growth issue mentioned above, there are two other downsides to the CND Shellac manicure.

The color selection is somewhat limited. There are 50 shades and effects offered and the colors can be layered for different variations. But if you're looking for a trendy denim blue or hot pink, you're out of luck. The other issue is that the polish can be hard to remove. Fortunately, it is easier to remove than the gel polish. But it still requires some soaking time with acetone nail polish pads.

Is the Shellac Manicure Right for Me?

The CND Shellac manicure is great because it really does last for up to two weeks. Your nails will be shiny and won't have any chips. I even washed the dishes without gloves (bad for other reasons!), but it still didn't chip. The addition of having no extra drying time is also a major plus. You can walk out of the salon, pay and dig in your bag with your car keys the second you're done. There is some concern about UV exposure from the drying lamp on your hands. You can bring your own hand lotion with SPF in it if it's a big concern for you or if you get Shellac manicures regularly. The selection of polishes is limited, so if you are someone who likes to wear the trendiest colors or nail art or likes to change up her polish frequently, you may find this isn't the best option for you.

The other challenge is the issue of removing the Shellac polish. It is a bit of a time commitment, figure on up to 15 minutes. Overall, if you like to keep your nails manicured, this may be the ideal solution for you.

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