No-Chip Nail Polish: The Final Story (I Hope)

My Shellac nails as they were starting to grow back in two months ago. Color: iced cappuccino, a golden neutral.

I’m taking a break from the usual Wednesday advice column to bring you the conclusion of a story that began months ago. I know from my analytics that many of you have checked out my previous posts about no-chip nail polish here and here. A recent comment from Tiffany reminded me that I haven’t posted the final installment of the saga.

The summary: If done properly, Shellac no-chip gel polish is good stuff. If done incorrectly, you’ll kick yourself for ever getting involved with this process in the first place.

Here are the things you need to know:

  • Don’t let the salon mix and match products. The original salon used Shellac and Gelify products interchangeably — base coat of one, color of another. They’re not designed to work that way. I know Shellac best from my experience, but I can only assume that the other brands’ colors are designed to bond to their proprietary base and top coats.
  • The process works best with a Shellac UV lamp. Although in truth, I’ve had it done with a regular CND Brisa lamp and it works fine.
  • Remove the polish only with Shellac removal wraps. A woman that I’ve chatted with says that her salon uses a soaked cotton ball wrapped in foil and says that it works ok. When done properly, the polish should flake right off and shouldn’t have to be scraped, filed or otherwise abused.

10 days in, having done yard work, garage cleaning and sheetrock work. Still shiny and chip-free. Color: Decadence.

Whatever you do, don’t let your salon:

  • Soak your fingers in a bowl of acetone.
  • Peel the polish off your nails. (Yes, seriously. I’ve heard horror stories.)
  • Scrape the polish off with a rough file or Dremel. (Yes, this really happens.)

The best way to guarantee the success of the process is to find a salon through the CND salon finder. My manicurist tells me that in order to be listed on the CND site, you have to sign a pledge that you follow the proper procedures and are open to an unscheduled drop-in from a company representative to ensure that you’re following the rules. That sounds a little silly at first, but it tells me that the company knows that they have a huge PR problem when it’s done incorrectly, and want to do what they can to ensure good results.

Even with a home mani (Sally Hansen Complete, Haute Chocolate, a lovely color), my nails are strong and healthy.

How do I know that it’s not damaging my nails? I went to my new manicurist for about two months — four or five 14-day cycles. My nails appeared to be growing back strong and healthy, but I wasn’t entirely sure whether my nails were really doing ok on their own or if it was the Shellac coating that was making them durable. But last month my manicurist and I couldn’t connect due to some scheduling conflicts, and I was on my own for two weeks. Even with Shellac-free nails, they were still strong enough to continue to grow.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask in the comments!

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5 Responses

  1. SallyHP says:

    I love shellac as well! Another tip is to make sure that they don’t get outside the line of your nail at all. If they get it on your skin, it just peels off in a solid sheet once it starts lifting from the skin. I use cloth diapers and wash my hands a ton and it lasted for almost two weeks!

  2. Alisa says:

    Good point, and it will peel from the skin as your nail grows, because it lasts so long.

    Update: I don’t know if that comment makes sense unless you’ve had Shellac, but if the color touches your skin or cuticle, it will cause the polish to buckle and/or peel as the nail grows and pulls the color away from the skin. However, if it’s all on the nail itself, it grows out without issues.

  3. Janet Levy says:

    I frequented an authorized CND salon and had a similar experience. After a few months of applications, my nails became brittle and cracked easily.

    Until there is a safe method to remove the gel polish that excludes drying chemicals, scrapping or filing, this is not a viable product to use for an extended period of time.

    Initially, the product beautifies the nails and appears to strengthen them. I was thrilled at first but now have stubs to show for my folly.

  4. Alisa says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Janet, but I’ve actually had no problems with it now that it’s been done properly. I’ve gone without any polish for a stretch of a couple of weeks at a time, and without peeling or breaking. Yes, the acetone can be rough on your nails, but I would need to use the same sort of remover for regular polish as well, and much more frequently. Done properly, I’ve had much better results with long-term use of Shellac nails than I have with classic manicures.

  5. May Davis says:

    I am professional nail tech working at a CND Shellac certified salon and I just wanted to add one point. CND states in its literature for professionals that Solar Oil should be used on a daily basis while wearing Shellac to prevent the drying/dehydrating effects that can cause nail damage.
    Shellac (and the removal process) CAN be dehydrating to the nail. I am constantly surprised that people who are having trouble with chipping/splitting/breaking after Shellac are often not ever told that regular use of cuticle oil (like Solar Oil) is recommended for everyone and will help these issues.

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