You’ve seen them in the salon, but do you actually know the difference between gel and shellac? It’s sort of like Ant and Dec, or the Kardashian sisters – same same, but different, right? Wrong. We asked Marian Newman, nail tech expert, for her guidance in deciding which formula is best. In the blue corner…
By Beth Ludolf
1 Gelish lasts longer
“Gelish is a pure, thin UV gel that is pigmented in various degrees to give colour” Marian explains. The formula, which applies like a classic polish, but lasts much longer, is slightly thicker than shellac; expect it to last up to three weeks while protecting your natural nail (bonus). Marian says “Gelish can often work better for those with weaker nails because of its impenetrable polish”.
2 Shellac is easier to remove
CND Shellac is a ‘genuine hybrid’ UV gel polish. That means its formula is similar to a traditional nail polish (like Rimmel, or Revlon). so it can be applied more thinly. Marian says ‘it looks like a classic polish but has the benefits of UV gel (dries instantly, is extra glossy and lasts for two weeks). The thinner application means removal takes around five minutes, max.
3 One needs buffing, the other doesn't
While both types of manicure take a similar time to apply – around 30-45 minutes – the application process is different. Shellac’s ‘no buff system’ means the nails don’t need to be buffed before the polish is applied (or removed). With Gelish, they do. This breaks the seal, meaning the polish can ‘lift’ more easily. Removing gel polish takes around 15-20 mins.
4 There's no need to take a break from either
You’ll often hear that it’s essential to take a break between manicures so that your nails can “breathe”, but Marian has called it – that’s a lie. She explains “nails don’t need a breather. In fact, you could keep the polish on permanently. It’s the application, removal and aftercare (like applying daily nail oil), that’s important”. And what about exposure to UV from the nail lamps? There’s no need to worry, Marian says; “the exposure is equivalent to around two minutes of natural daylight”.
5 So, who's the winner?
Want a more natural finish and a quicker removal time (or lack patience, like me)? Then go with Shellac. If your nails need a hardier polish (that lasts longer), its Gelish all the way. So, which is best? We’re leaving this one up to you – you’ve got the expert knowledge now, after all.