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

Jen Geller
May 4, 2011

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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