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CND Shellac Review: The Manicure that Won’t Quit

CND Shellac Manicure review

When I first heard about Shellac this spring via my friend Michelle over at All Lacquered Up, I was pretty much a non-believer. How could a product that went on like polish (with the added curing under a UV light after each coat) last for a full 2 weeks? Once Michelle tried it out and reported her results to me, I admit I was impressed. Michelle’s success usually translates over into my own.

Initially Shellac was a bit hard to find, and I was pretty certain that trying it out would involve a drive. Then I walked into the salon around the corner from my house for an eyebrow appointment (literally, it is around the corner. I can walk there.), and I was so excited to see little Shellac signs everywhere! It turns out they’d had it for a while, but I was unaware. I scheduled a mani-pedi immediately.

Shellac currently has a fairly limited range of colors. Mostly light pinks and some brighter colors, with the exception of Fedora, a rich mid-tone brown creme. It has long been a favorite of mine (hence, I am lamenting that I have somehow lost my bottle), so I went with that for both my manicure and pedicure. CND does have a layering handout that shows some of the colors layered, and my nail tech said she had done a lot of layering with the lighter shades, though not with Fedora. We did try to layer Fedora with Strawberry Smoothie, which looks like a greyed purple on the sheet. I had hoped that this would look similar to my Chanel Paradoxal Mani that we had just removed. Unfortunately, it looked nothing like the sheet! It was streaky (despite a lot of effort on my nail tech’s part), and looked just very uneven. We removed the pink layer and decided to go with just Fedora. Other than our layering mishap, the entire process went very smoothly.

The picture you see above is my manicure after 12 days of wear. Yes, 12 days, not 2. As you can see I had very minimal tip wear and the shine was still amazing. If you look really closely you’ll see a bit of a “X” in the reflection on my index finger. I did that with a sharp kitchen knife (I’m a tad clutsy) and normally that would have completely ruined a mani and likely left a big mark on my nail surface. With the Shellac there was a slight defect in the top coat that could be seen in the sun, but that is it. This stuff is like armor for your nails!

I finally removed the Shellac after 12 days of wear, simply because I could no longer take seeing the regrowth at the bottom of my nail. Note that this amount of regrowth isn’t exactly normal. My nails do grow rather fast, but since I’m pregnant they grow at super speed! My shellac pedicure is still going super strong, and my nail tech said that the couple of clients that have this done come back after about 5 weeks of wear to have the pedi redone, usually due to regrowth.

Removal was pretty easy. The Shellac does need to be soaked in Acetone. To help prevent exposing my entire finger to it I simply soaked cotton pads in Acetone, then placed them over my nail beds and wrapped the tips in foil to keep the cotton in place for about 10 minutes. After that, removal was pretty much the same as any manicure. The Shellac and Acetone can conspire against you to dry out nail beds and cuticles, so a generous treatment of Solar Oil or a similar cuticle oil afterwards will do wonders.

I would definitely get a Shellac manicure again, and I’m definitely going to keep getting Shellac pedicures for the duration of my pregnancy (especially since it’s hard enough to reach those toes now, let alone touch them long enough to do a pedi!). The good news is that more salons are offering the service, so it is easier to find and cheaper to get! Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more Shellac colors to be released soon.

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 10.7.10
    jaimehwkns said:

    Whoa. That is some unbelievable wear time! I can't believe the lack of tip wear, either!

  2. 10.8.10
    doriosity said:

    My nails grow super fast too. my nails grow into the length in about a week or so) so it's not that abnormal :D.

    But the wear on these polishes are AMAZING!! hopefully I'll be able to see them at a salon.

  3. 10.12.10
    Christine said:

    I meant it's not normal for ME. My nails also grow really fast, but 1/2 cm in 10 days is quite a bit.

  4. 10.13.10
    Jen said:

    Is this like OPI Axxium? That started separating after a couple of days then left all of my nails peeling for months. I think the lift off was b/c the manicurist wasn't experienced with the system. I don't blame the peeling on her, but ouch! It was a pain! I'd love to find something that lasts but is more gentle.

  5. 10.14.10
    Christine said:

    Hi Jen!
    I think it is a somewhat similar idea, though a much different way of doing it. I've never had OPI Axxium, but I understand that is a gel manicure available in the OPI colors. After each layer of product, your hand is cured under a UV lamp. The Shellac is also cured under UV after each layer, but it isn't gel. Reading on-line, I found that most people recommend having Axxium removed at the salon, where the Shellac can be removed at home. Once I took off my Shellac mani (the pedi is still going strong), my nails were fine underneath. Since it did involve soaking the nailbeds in acetone, I did extra moisturizing treatments (cuticle oil) to my nailbeds and cuticles, but everything was fine!

  6. 7.1.19
    Natasha said:

    Hi! So grateful for your site and all the work you put into educating all of us. Can I ask your opinion on nails? Skip the gel mani? Thank you

    • 7.1.19
      15mins said:

      Your nails don’t absorb anything themselves, but I’d be more concerned about the process of putting on and off the mani, inhaling fumes and such. I’d skip the gel and go for a regular manicure just to avoid that process.