Shellac Vs Gel Nails – What’s the difference?

Some manicure lovers mistake shellac for gels, but the two are different. So if you had a manicure appointment set, you should not ignore shellacs because they would give you an out of this world manicure the same way your Triple O Polish Nail lacquer or DND gel would. If you fathom looking default polished all year round, shellacs just like gels should be on your wish list. Both gel and shellac elicit a glossy finish that does not chip easily. So if you want to have one for your manicure, which one would you go for? Gels or shellac? Before you can book your appointment in a salon, you should first be aware of the differences that make gels and shellac unique to know which one is right for you.

What Are Shellac Nails?

Those who do not really know a lot about shellacs refer to them as shellac gel nails.The same way dip nails like SNS or DND nail polish colors are half acrylic and half gel; shellac nails are half gel and half regular nail polish. Shellacs are applied in two colour layers plus a topcoat. Each polish colour layer is set and cured using special UV light.

Difference between Shellac and Gels

The properties that make gels and shellac unique might not be mined blowing, but the difference exist nonetheless. The main difference between the two is that while gels can be referred to as semi-permanent gel, shellacs are semi-permanent polish.

How Durable are shellac Nails?

Shellac nail polish is formulated in such a way that it is thinner than a gel nail polish. Therefore, as gel nails last for three weeks, shellac nails last for about two weeks after which you choose to remove the polish in preparation for another manicure or wait a little longer for them to break down.

How durable are Gel Nails?

Gels are known for their durability because they can last up to 3 weeks. But if you are wearing gel nails, hot water should be avoided like the plague because it is their worst enemy. Remember you can remove gels by soaking the nails in hot water so your mission should be avoiding it. Everyone desires to keep their nails at best; thus, for gels, you can do so by avoiding steamy showers or soaking them in the tub longer than it is necessary. If you have to do so, rubber gloves are your ultimate solution.

How to Remove Shellac and Gel Nails

Visiting a nail pro in a salon to have your shellac or gel nails removed is the best thing you can do. But if you are a DIY enthusiast, it is good to understand that shellacs are easier to remove than gels because of its polish characteristics. After all, it does not require buffing. When a gel nail varnish is removed, the top layer should be filed off, and the nails soaked in acetone or covering them in cotton balls soaked in acetone and covered using strips of aluminium foil. But when removing shellac nails, all you have to do is dip them in acetone. Vaseline should be used to cover the skin around the nails before dipping in acetone to prevent it from drying up.

Do Natural Shellacs or Gels Exist?

Shellac is a mixture of gel and regular polish; thus, its regular part can be made more natural than the gel part. However, a 100% natural shellac nail polish has not been made yet. Nonetheless, depending on how your definition of natural, natural gels can exist, especially if you are referring to gels that are free of ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene or dibutyl phthalate.

Are Shellac and Gel Polishes Safe?

There has been a heated debate on the safety of shellac nails, mainly because of their treatment using UV light associated with cancer. However, it is necessary to take caution when dealing with such high-intensity UV light used in shellac treatment. Therefore, SPF30 and sunscreen should be applied for about twenty minutes beforehand. On the other hand, when dealing with gels, the same degree of caution should be exercised.

Is it Okay to Apply Shellac and Gels at Home?

Unfortunately, people can only go for official CND Shellac treatment in a nail parlour or salon. However, gel-style nail polish can help you achieve an almost similar effect. Brands like OPI nail lacquer and Gelish known for their high quality and gloss top and base coats can help you achieve the effect. A Gelly Hi-Shine range can also be derived from Barry M. buffing your nails before the application is vital to allow the polish to adhere well. On the contrary, gels can easily be done at home as long as you have the technique and the required products. A gel and a shellac mani cost almost the same depending on your country of residence.


Has the question of which is better between gels and shellac been bothering you? Well, you should worry no more because the information in this article will help you make the right decision for your next manicure.