UPDATE: A follow-up post can be found here. I had a much different, much better outcome when it was done properly!
I’ll start by saying that this is turning out to be a very different post than I originally planned to write when I sat in front of my computer, ranting. It’s turned out to be a cautionary tale about trying new things without doing the proper research first.
Back in December, I wrote a post about Shellac no-chip gel nail polish. In April, I had several events to attend and decided to get my nails done again at my same salon. I had my first manicure on March 31 and my nails still looked gorgeous on April 18. Yes, there was a growth line at the cuticle, but the polish was shiny and chip-free.
On the 18th I had my polish removed and a fresh Shellac manicure… or so I thought. On the 23rd, the polish on my ring finger began to peel from the cuticle up — the polish lifted off, evidently taking a layer of nail with it. Three days later, another nail peeled off. By the 14th day, a third had peeled off completely, and others were starting to peel in spots. All began at or near the cuticle while the tips still looked pristine.
When I went back for a polish removal, I asked the salon what caused the polish to peel. “You must not have the right kind of nails for it,” she said, and advised against doing another Shellac manicure until I’d let my nails “recover.” I had them remove my polish and then just buff my bare nails.
On the way home from the salon, I broke two nails down so low that they hurt. My nails were weak, thin and in terrible condition. But Shellac markets itself as being safe for your nails! I was livid. What kind of awful product was this, anyway?
I sent a ranting email to CND, the makers of Shellac. And before I got a response, I started reading about the polish from various sources online, including the CND/Shellac website.
Here’s what I learned.
- My salon is not an authorized Shellac salon.
- I’m pretty sure that my second, unsuccessful manicure, used a combination of Shellac and a product called Gelify. This is also a gel polish, but I don’t know how well the two work together.
- My salon didn’t use the easy-removal technique recommended by Shellac. Instead, they filed down the polish then left me to soak in a bowl of acetone, only to finish the job with more scraping and filing of the remaining polish, no doubt removing a ton of nail in the process. This is, apparently, how you remove old-style gel nails, but not the new gel polish.
Having done my research now, I realize that there’s a huge difference between a “real” Shellac manicure and the manicure that I got.
In hindsight, I should have done more research. I’ve always loved my nail salon. It’s part of a chain with beautiful facilities and sanitized, autoclaved instruments. I’d never even heard of Shellac until I saw it advertised in their on-site display, and decided to try it on a whim. So here’s my advice to you, with some guidance from Daphnye, my helpful CND customer service rep:
- Check the website and find an authorized salon.
- Check the bottles to make sure that they’re using real Shellac base coats, polish and top coats. I don’t think that the mix-and-match system works properly.
- Ask if they use the CND UV or Brisa lamp.
- Ask if they file the natural nail at all.
- Ask how they remove the Shellac: with a bowl of acetone or the Removal Wraps?
Would I consider doing it again? Yes, but only at an authorized salon. But judging by the length and weakness of my now-broken nails, I won’t be doing another manicure of any kind again for a long time.