We may earn a commission from links on our website, but this doesn't influence the opinions of our editors.

What Are Shellac Nails? Everything You Need to Know

Last Updated: September 14, 2021

It’s fun to show a bit of personality with colorful nails, maybe even brighten up your day by experimenting with neon polish.

However, there are some pretty annoying steps in the nail-painting process. For starters, if you’re using regular nail varnish, it can take FOREVER to dry. Maybe you try to speed up the process by waving your hands in the air or running your fingers under cold water, but a lot of the time a small move can really mess up the paint. 

Fortunately, there’s a new fad in the nail game. Shellac nails combine the best of both worlds. They’re fast-drying under UV lights (similar to gel), last for weeks without chipping, and have a non-drying and easy removal process. 

Ahead, we’ll break down Shellac nails pros and cons—is this the best choice for your nails? 

RELATED: 14 Best Gel Nail Polishes for Unchippable Manicures

What are Shellac Nails?

Shellac is a patented, hybrid polish that’s made up of half nail polish and half gel. It’s a brand name, created and patented by Creative Nail Design (CND). 

Like nail polish, it can be applied directly to your nails. Unlike gel polish, it can only be used as pigment, not to sculpt or fill your nails. Shellac is dried under UV lights, similar to many gel polishes.

Are Shellac Nails Safe?

While Shellac nails are safe to apply and remove, you shouldn’t get a Shellac manicure if you have dry, brittle, or thin nails. Try to strengthen your nails first with a nail strengthening product, like these top options

Also, since Shellac nails require a UV light to dry, it’s best to apply sunscreen to your hands before you go to the salon. Many people forget this step (or don’t even know about it) – you don’t want any damage done to your skin from the UV lights!

It’s also important to note that you should have your Shellac nails removed professionally at a salon. Removing them yourself can often cause damage, so unless you’re confident in your ability to remove them correctly, play it safe and book an appointment. 


  • Over time, gels and acrylics can weaken your natural nails, shellac does not!
  • Shellac adds strength and durability, therefore reducing chipping. 
  • Shellac paint is relatively thin, giving it flexibility.
  • Lasts up to 2 weeks!
  • Removal through acetone wraps doesn’t damage nails.


  • Shellac cannot extend or fill natural nails. 
  • Requires a healthy nail bed to apply and therefore can not be used on everyone. 
  • Shellac is tricky to remove at home, and it’s best to go to the salon if you want to change up the color. However, if you want to remove it at home, you’ll need to soak your nails in acetone for up to 10 minutes.
  • It’s a salon-only treatment, so you can’t do your own nails at home.

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of benefits to Shellac. Not only do they last for several weeks without chipping, but they also don’t cause damage to your nails. 

If you’re looking for long-lasting, vibrant color, Shellac is a great option. Keep in mind these pros and cons to Shellac nails next time you head to the salon!

UP NEXT: Polygel Nails 101: What to Know Before Committing

Leave a Comment