Shellacs-Attacks: Is a Manicure that Lasts for 14 Days Too Good to Be True?

woman getting manicure

The manicure is one of life's little luxuries.  A visit to the salon gives someone a bit of pampering, a chance to catch up with the girls or even some alone time.  Everyone needs some glamour once in a while.

However, the inevitable chip that can happens even moments upon leaving the salon may leave you feeling more not than hot.  A new way of getting a manicure claims to leave your nails looking flawless for a lot longer.  Sounds great, right?  But there may be a catch.

A Shellac Nail treatment manicure claims to last for up to 14 days without chipping.  The treatment is a hybrid of a regular polish manicure and a gel.  The Shellac drying process is faster than a typical manicure and can be easily removed at the salon.  The company, Creative Nail Design (CND) says that its patent-pending formula is hypoallergenic, and is formaldehyde and DBP free, so you don't have to worry about any harsh chemicals on your hands either.

OPI offers a similar nail treatment called Axxium.  If you ask for a Shellac nail treatment at a salon, the manicurist will likely offer you the Axxiuum colors as well.

The Cost

Getting the treatment is pricier than an average manicure running between $25-$45 depending where you live and the type of salon you go to.  The cost may be justified since this treatment will likely last twice as long as a regular manicure.

The Good

By all accounts, the Shellac manicure really works.  Liberty Jones, who works in fashion in Washington, DC is sold; "I use my hands a lot at work and the manicure lasted twice as long as a regular one," she says.

Jessica Turetz, who works in sales in Boston, is also impressed with the results.  "The first time I did it, it was before a vacation and it was great.  I went to the beach and there was no chipping or anything.  Back at home, with my job, I don't like to look unkempt and these really work."

The Not-So-Good

Color choice is a bit limited, though CND says that more colors are coming to the market and OPI offers more variety.

Turetz also noticed that the frequency of the treatment takes its toll.  "I really loved it so I started to do it a lot, and I thought my nails got kind of thin over time, so I don't do it too often anymore."

Perhaps the biggest concern of all is the drying process where you have to expose your hands to UV light.  Dr. D'Anne Kleinsmith, a dermatologist at Bloomfield Dermatology in West Bloomfield, Michigan cautions frequent users of the treatment; "I can see the convenience of Shellac.  While I don't like the idea that Shellac needs to be treated with UV light I'm not certain of how much risk there is if a woman does it every two weeks or so.  However, with skin cancer it's all cumulative, so consider it on an occasional basis, not every time you get your nails done."

CND says the amount of energy from a UV lamp during a nail service is roughly the equivalent to the amount of UV exposure one would experience during a typical day of exposure to indoor fluorescent lighting.  Still, CND says, if a customer prefers, sun block can be applied to the hands up to 30 minutes before a treatment.

The Test Drive

A Shellac manicure takes a bit longer than a regular one, but the drying time is certainly shorter.  Putting your hands into what basically looks like a little tanning bed is a bit daunting but some oil free sun block can make you feel more protected.

10 days in of typing, driving, texting, diaper changing, bathing a baby, playing on the playground with the kids and not one chip.  The Shellac manicure even withstood the biggest manicure-slayer of all: several searches into the purse/diaper bag/carry all/trash receptacle every mom carries around with her.

Worth it?

The cost and the UV exposure may not make it ideal for a standard Saturday afternoon girl time, but if you absolutely positively want to look perfect for a big event and that means not a chip in sight; a big yes.


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Comments (33)
Tinker B.
That is a wonderful treatment and quite reliable as well.
Posted: November 19, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Photo of Silvia D.
Silvia D.
I love the CND Shellac on my nails. It definitely stays fresh & shiny for 10-14 days. I do wear gloves when I wash dishes to keep my nails looking great.
I had my nails done before I went on vacation to Kauai for 9 days and my nails looked beautiful.

I also use my computer daily and the tapping on the keyboard doesn't have an impact on any chipping-If applied by a good manicurist. I had one person apply the Shellac quickly & not allowed it to dry properly and it "bubbled". I asked for it to be fixed & she repeated the same mistake again.
I gave up & asked for a refund. I now found an amazing manicurist who understands how to apply it and remove the product from my nails. I'm very happy. If you find a great manicurist- Stick with her!
Posted: September 16, 2013 at 5:42 PM
Alcione G.
I do dishes, play outside with kids and it last for almost 14 days. I dont know where you girls are going to pay that price for a manicure but, it is being a deal to me to have a pedicure and manicure done for only 35$.
Posted: September 08, 2013 at 5:28 PM
Photo of Sandra F.
Sandra F.
I've been getting the Shellac manicure for more than a year now and have concluded several different things about this product/process. First of all, for those of us who have extremely brittle nails, this product is the bomb (that's a good thing)! My tech applies a very thin layer of acrylic directly over my own natural nails and then applies the Shellac nail color of my choice. My natural nails are so prone to cracking, splitting and breaking and the acrylic gives them that added little bit of strength that they lack on their own. As for the Shellac, it is my opinion that if the base coat and the esepecially the top coat are applied properly, there is no doubt you will get at least 2 weeks wear out of your manicure. There have been times when my polish has chipped in just a few days and majority of times it has lasted at least 2 weeks or longer. The trick is completely covering the top and all around the edge/sides of the nail with the protective top coat. My tech has no problem repairing a nail for me if the polish chips or peels anytime within the first week of wear, which is the way it should be because the product is only as good as the application.

As for the condition of my real nails, I cannot say that the manicure (even including using the light layer of acrylic) has caused my nails any damage. I had used nail tips in the past and quit because of the extreme thinning of my actual nails (like down to the meat almost!) but haven't had this problem with the Shellac. I personally for once in my life have extremely nice looking nails of a consistent basis and totally recommend the process.
Posted: August 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Photo of Lauren N.
Lauren N.
I used Shellac for my wedding and it lasted through my 2 week honeymoon right after, too! I love it for big events but it took a toll on my nails so I wouldn't get it done often.
Posted: July 02, 2012 at 8:48 PM
Candis C.
I am hearing good things, so I am going to try them

Posted: July 02, 2012 at 5:09 AM
Lynn E.
Absolutely love, love, love the Shellac. My technician did my nails on June 8, 2012 -- that's 3 weeks old and they are still beautiful, no fuss nails. They still actually look great almost like new except my nails have now grown so much I have quite a bit of growth space showing so it's time to get them redone. Yes, it just comes off with acetone nail polish remover. Love the shellac and love my technican Tracy.
Posted: June 29, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Camille A.
I love it! It never chips. I used to get manis and the polish would start chipping the next day. Now I eventually have to peel it off due to outgrowth before it chips!
Posted: June 22, 2012 at 2:54 AM
Photo of Teresa N.
Teresa N.
I have a french set, that starts out with tips, then my gal cuts them down each time till they are my own nails. But, the pink on the bottom has a slight glitter in it just to add a bit of interest. I generally do not use color( does not show grow out as much) But I get so many compliments on my nails!!! And I recommend my gal everytime!! The gel looks great and I can usually go every 3 weeks before I have to go in again. I clean homes for a living, garden and do usuall stuff, just have to wear gloves. No biggy. I guess I also need to throw in my comments that I had played high level softball, and I have had acrylic nails for several years while I played. I think alot has to do with your salon tech and the length of your nails. The way my french is done makes my nails look longer than they truly are. Just food for thought.
Posted: June 10, 2012 at 10:12 AM
Photo of Teresa N.
Teresa N.
I have a french set, that starts out with tips, then my gal cuts them down each time till they are my own nails. But, the pink on the bottom has a slight glitter in it just to add a bit of interest. I generally do not use color( does not show grow out as much) But I get so many compliments on my nails!!! And I recommend my gal everytime!! The gel looks great and I can usually go every 3 weeks before I have to go in again. I clean homes for a living, garden and do usuall stuff, just have to wear gloves. No biggy.
Posted: June 10, 2012 at 10:04 AM
Photo of Jennifer H.
Jennifer H.
I have to agree with everyone that said the Shellac manicure was not applied correctly if it peeled or chips! I had it done about 2 months ago and absolutely loved it and have also started purchasing my own CND Shellac Kit. When I had my first manicure it lasted for 4 weeks!! Minus the growth of course.
Tip for those who enjoy changing colors.... I read on a blog to use a clear or white Shellac polish and put whatever regular color polish over your manicure. Since the Shellac doesn't come off using polish removed you can change regular polish anytime!
Posted: June 10, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Photo of Brittany S.
Brittany S.
I have actually purchased a gel set from Ulta and the portable uv lamp. It was so easy and looked great and they dry so fast, I really didn't think it was too long of a process. I like the natural look so after using red for a wedding I started only using clear. I use the lamp after applying each coat. Even on the box for my product it says when removing to put pieces of cotton soaked purify which is nail polish remover with acetone, on the nails and wrap them in foil. However that was not necessary for me because I can't get it to stick to my nails properly. I begin to have fun peeling it off like a sticker. It comes off in one piece still shaped like my nails. My nails are too oily and I have the same problem with nail polish. I have tried using polish remover to dehydrate them, nail dehydrator, filing the tops to rough them up some, base coatltop coat etc and no matter what brand of polish I use it won't stick. However my nails are pretty strong and square, I file them often, natural white tips and pinkish nail bed so I don't even have much interest in color. I really only wanted the gels to protect them from the occasional breaking and the lasting shine you get with the gels. Now I just apply seche vite or opi top coat every few days.
Posted: May 30, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Michelle K.
Stephanie R,
I agree with most of the information you have given, but not all states require a separate license to use an electric file. The state where I live (and yes I am a nail tech) does not require a separate license, but we have to do double the initial training hours compared to our neighboring states.
Posted: April 18, 2012 at 8:01 AM
Lorrie P.

For you to have said "I can easily spot women that don't do much by the length of their nails" is insulting and incorrect. There are ladies with very long nails who type, data entry, work in banks, raise children and keep house, etc. It is all in getting use to how long the nails are. You can adjust to anything if you try.

Even "housewives" like myself manage to wash dishes three times a day, do laundry, grocery shopping and every once in awhile, reply to your type of letter because I was interested in reading about this new nail rage.

Think before you know what you are talking about.
Posted: April 15, 2012 at 7:30 AM
Josie D.
Well, I just had it done yesterday (3/21) for the first time. Anxious to see how it works out. Did get one compliment so far. Rest of comment pending after my 2 weeks is up.
Posted: March 22, 2012 at 5:42 PM
OMG!Thank you all for the info. I will not be getting that done.Thank you for sharing. I will keep my nails the regular way.
Posted: March 05, 2012 at 5:05 PM
Photo of Katrin E.
Katrin E.
My nails are naturally thin, and regular polish chips off at the end of the day. I also purchased a UV lamp and all the polish to go with it. My nails feel stronger while the polish is on and it lasts for 2 weeks, but I personally like to change polish every 1 1/2 weeks because of nail growth. Try it at the salon, if you like it, purchase your own UV. the investment is the cost of 5-7 treatments (depending on how much you are currently spending) and this includes prep, base, polish top coat.
Posted: February 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Photo of Johana V.
Johana V.
Shellac is awesome and I bought a UV lamp, the base coat, top coat, solar oil and 3 nail colors ( you can layer the color for more options). I do my own finger nails also for a pedicure. I used sunscreen in my hands, awesome manicure in 30 minutes and 10 minutes remove process, easy!! no problem getting off my nails, 2 weeks shine nails without any chip. If some one needs help let me know.
Posted: February 09, 2012 at 1:29 PM
Photo of Stephanie R.
Stephanie R.
Shellac is a great product!!! If your shellac manicure doesn't last at least 2 weeks then something is wrong with the way it was applied or by the person who applied it. (if not, it should at least be guaranteed)YOU have to be aware that there are several salons out there where the "nail techs" ARE NOT applying the product correctly (and believe me, there is a right way and a wrong way of this process.) And this includes the removal process which really only takes 10 maybe 12 minutes, tops, without soaking in acetone!! Believe it or not, a lot of these people who do nails are not even licensed. Did you know that if someone is using a drill(yes the "electric filing") on your nails that the tech is suppose to have a separate license from the state cosmetologist/manicurist license?? And did you know the main reason everyone thinks that acrylics "ruin" their nails is because they went to someone who drilled (filed)on their natural nails, which is illegal?? How can your natural nails be anything BUT weak and thin when someone drills on them?
It's all about knowledge and asking questions. You have a right to know!!!
They are your nails, Right???
I'm a very passionate, experienced (and licensed) nail tech who tries to educate every client that I come in contact with and in my opinion that is what it is all about.
Posted: February 01, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Larissa G.
Agree with the pain to get it off. Also, nails get thin and chip off, and it takes a while to get back to normal, which is really annoying. I am sticking back to the good old manicure-pedicure.
Posted: January 06, 2012 at 5:51 PM
Photo of Laina Lanell B.
Laina Lanell B.
Colored nail polish is WAY too high maintanance. I can easily spot women that don't do much by the length of their nails. I have strong nails, but I am no slave to polish and keeping them past a decent length.
Posted: October 26, 2011 at 5:55 PM
Australia E.
Love it and no problems at all. I usually get OPI . Where are u ladies goin i pay $15 no more than thay on Sunseg Blvd.
Posted: October 20, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Photo of Callie S.
Callie S.
This product is awesome. i went to one place and had it done, the wrong way and it lasted four days. Then I went to another nail tech who applied the product correctly, exposing my hands to uv light for short intervals between every layer and I have had perfect strong nails for over two weeks. taking the product off is a snap if you soak only the nail in acetone by wrapping each nail individually in cotton and then foil. My nails are strong happy and healthy. Way better than they have ever been with acrylics. If shellac is not working for you then chances are, your tech in not applying it correctly or removing it safely from your hands. I have had shellacs on my toes and hands for six months with zero problems ever since I switched nail techs.
Posted: August 27, 2011 at 10:12 PM
Sara S.
A nightmare to get the stuff off!
Posted: August 24, 2011 at 10:05 PM
Photo of Jennifer W.
Jennifer W.
Vitamin E pill supplements are great for women whose nails get thin from gel, acrylics, and Shellac. They really harden your nails and you can see a difference in just a few days. Also great for people who color, treat, or perm their hair a lot. It strengthens the hair folicals. Opinion based on personal experience.
Posted: August 22, 2011 at 2:51 AM
Photo of Lauretta B.
Lauretta B.
The first time I had this done, it lasted 4 days and then began to peel. But I didn't give up I was bound and determined to have shiny long nails that were my own no matter what. I actually had OPI and CND products applied to my nails and none of it would stay on me for more than a week tops, and at 35.oo a pop that got too pricey, besides each time I would have the gel soaked off (also with pure acetone) my nails were soft and flimsy. So I decided to try a product called Nail Tek 111 and voila! For the first time in my life I have long hard healthy nails. I buff my nails weekly and apply a coat every day or two ( i use the type for dry brittle nails) and my nails beds are pink and my actual nail is white and natural looking. I have all the women in my family using it,I swear by this product and as an aesthetician I recommend it to all of my clients. So Marianne, I'm with YOU!!
Posted: July 20, 2011 at 8:14 PM
Holly J.
Wow. I am very surprised at the negative comments about this new technique. I absolutely love it. Firstly, I am merely a consumer. I am NOT a nail tech nor do I have any connection with any salon or product. I work in automotive- about as far from 'salon' as one can get. I am a small business owner with daily client contact.
I wore acrylics off and on for years, but even with my genetically strong nails, I hated the effect that process had- and really hated that the techs used an industrial dremel rotary tool on me. I used to use those at work in the factory every day to remove burrs from car parts! Good grief.
I don't know what kind of tech sticks your fingers in pure acetone, but that is barbaric. My aesthetician puts the acetone on cotton, the cotton on my NAIL only and wraps the finger tip with foil to keep the cotton on.
Sure it would be lovely, Marianne, to just buff our nails and think they look super, but some of us want a more sophisticated or trendy look.
I have been having the CND Shellac applied once a month since it came out. I am 50 and have received compliments from neighbors, coworkers, cashiers and doctor's office receptionists about how nice my nails look and whether or not they are actually mine. I only use the very neutral colors and keep them short to medium in length.
I have to vote with Corinna on this. They are in better shape than they were before I did this.
Posted: July 12, 2011 at 7:57 AM
Photo of Marianne P.
Marianne P.
The best way to have long natural nails is to buff your nails at least once a week ( better still if done for a bit every day) and add a fresh clear topcoat daily. Period.
Posted: June 22, 2011 at 10:45 PM
Photo of Corinna D.
Corinna D.
That's definitely a huge bummer that they didn't last for you ladies like it's suppose to. I started getting mine done when it was released on the market last summer. I am a licensed cosmetologist/manicurist for the last 10 years and I have tried EVERYTHING on the market! This is the least damaging of ANY nail system and since I've been using it for close to a year I would say that my nails are better with it on then with it off. Also, I never have a problem going two weeks or longer. ALL of my clients switched from gel enhancements to Shellac. I haven't done anything different on them for over 6 months! I think that is a track record to consider. I really recommend double checking who you are seeing. There are still many people out there that aren't putting the product on right. Plus they have doubled the number of colors and all the colors can be layered to create new colors. I know there is an option for you ladies. :)
Posted: June 12, 2011 at 3:13 AM
Photo of Lourdes F.
Lourdes F.
I loved the Shellac nail manicure I had. In fact, to save money I bought a UV nail dryer and the base coat, top coat etc. to do my own nails. I used it several times, even for a pedicure. I bought little rubber caps that I put over my nails (with cotton soaked in acetone) and had no problem getting the shellac off my nails. The bad part was that although I loved how long my polish lasted, my nails began to get thin, similar to the way they got when I had regular artificial nails. I decided to give my nails a rest......
Posted: June 08, 2011 at 9:16 PM
Darla S.
I loved the look but to take them off my salon had me soak my fingers in pure acetone for at least 15-20 min total. Do not like the exposure to acetone, which is absorbed through your skin and toxic. Nails in worse shape from soaking and scraping off of gel material..won't get them again.
Posted: May 23, 2011 at 1:42 PM
Photo of Creature Comforts Pet Services, LLC
Creature Comforts Pet Services, LLC
I agree, I have a "hands intensive" job and my nails got a small chip at two days and then at the one week mark fell apart completely. I was disappointed due to the cost (35.00 + gratuity); definitely not worth it for one week of attractive nails. (and yes - getting it off was horrid!)
Posted: May 19, 2011 at 4:55 PM
Photo of Taimi T.
Taimi T.
I have tried it also. I wash my dishes every day, so do be honest I wasn t so pleased with it. It didn t last 14 days, it lasted perfect for a week and then it was a pain to get it off. They say, that you are supposed to keep your nails in the nail polish for 10 minits. After you done that it still doesn t come off and your fingers are all soaked. So I guess if I do try it again, I will go and remove it in the salon. It does look great till it lasts.
Posted: May 16, 2011 at 9:33 PM
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