Gel polish is not exclusive to one brand and is made of acrylic monomers and oligomers that bond together when placed under a UV light. The main difference between a gel manicure and Shellac is that gel can be sculpted and shaped to your nail just like acrylic; the finish is also a bit thicker and glossier than Shellac. Shellac is not actually a type of manicure, it is a product made by the brand CND. (Creative Nail Design)
Shellac is essentially a hybrid of gel and traditional nail polish that’s cured and hardened with a special LED lamp so you get lasting wear and don’t have to worry about drying time. Because Shellac is slightly softer than gel, it soaks off easily with acetone. On the other hand, gel polish needs to be removed by buffing and filing and removal therefore takes longer than shellac
The removal process for Shellac is much easier and a bit gentler on the nails. Your manicurist can swiftly take off a Shellac manicure using an acetone-based remover, which breaks down the coating of the polish on its own (without having to buff or file the top layers beforehand). In most cases, simply wrapping your nails in remover-soaked cotton balls and aluminum foil for ten minutes will lift the Shellac polish off your nails, at which point you can lightly push it off with a cuticle stick.
Best known for its shiny finish and 14+ day lifespan, Shellac polish is growing in popularity. Have you always been curious to try a Shellac manicure? But maybe you don’t quite understand what it is?
CND Shellac is made using a formula that contains more lacquer than other gel polishes. The high level of lacquer in shellac means that there is zero damage to natural nails, and you still get a hard, high-gloss finish that resists chips, nicks, and smudges. The lower level of gel cures into a thin coating which makes the removal process easier and shorter. One of the main advantages of shellac is that the drying time (curing by UV lamp) is very fast compared to traditional polish. Your shellac manicure should take just a couple of minutes to “cure” compared to about 1/2 hour for traditional polish
Key Differences Between Shellac and Regular Polish
What is Shellac? What are the ingredients?
Shellac is a gel polish that comes in a variety of different colors. From the outside, it may look like regular polish, but Shellac requires a ‘curing’ or hardening process under an ultraviolet (UV) light. Shellac polish is a mixture of methacrylate monomers and radical initiators. The UV curing process refers to the chemical process when these two ingredients are exposed to UV light. The energy from the light sets off a polymerization process. Roughly meaning that the molecules in the gel are moving all over the place but once the energy from the light is absorbed they can’t move anywhere which makes the polish harden.
There’s a lot of chemistry to it. If you want an even deeper insight into gel polish, Nail Magazine is a great source.
Shellac Manicure Process
The Shellac manicure process is similar to regular manicures in that you have a base coat, polish colors and a top coat. The key difference is the UV curing process.
How to make your Shellac manicure last longer
Do not pick at a Shellac manicure! Once the color begins to lift, you may feel tempted to start picking it off. This damages the nail as water starts seeping into the nail, harboring bacteria and potentially fungus. If you rip off the polish, you’re likely to take off some layers of your nail too. This kind of damage can take up to 6 months to repair! Not ideal! We strongly advise you to have your manicurist remove your Shellac properly. This is done through a soaking process with acetone.