Shellac at home: a beginner’s guide

Getting used to the shellac was a bit of trial and error at first, but I’ll share what I figured out and what I haven’t quite gotten yet.

The first important component- the lamp light! Mine is LED curing rather than pure UV. I’m not sure if there’s pros and cons between them, but from what I can tell on the polish bottles the LED cures a little quicker.

The bottles are very small and very pricey for the polish! I paid $14 for the color on the right, and it’s half the size of a bottle of regular lacquer. They recommend that you put a layer of the clear base coat before applying any color, probably due to the risk of staining. I’m a little unhappy with the ORLY brand- the colors feel sticky to the touch even after a long period of curing. I did not have the same effect with the Gelish brand, so it might vary depending on quality. One of the nice things about these is that nail art is very easy since you can quickly dry every layer before moving to the next! It also will stay a liquid and not harden up in your brush. One annoying thing though:

LIFTING. Just like with poorly applied acrylics, my shellac will start to lift pretty quickly if I don’t take care to really clean the nail before putting on the base coat. It could be worsened by my poor quality base coat, but I’m not really sure since I haven’t tried others. Overall, I’m really pleased with the durability and convenience. If you’re painting your nails before heading out this probably gives the quickest turnaround, including (lack of) drying time. And I only took pictures of my nails after going rock climbing and they still look flawless! Perfect for anyone that usually has chips due to physical activity. In summary, here’s some do’s and don’ts:
DO: paint the edge of your nail (or wrap the bottom), cure for a sufficient amount of time, shake the polish before applying
DON’T: put color on bare nail, apply thick coats, forget to clean your nails before applying
Shellac kits are a bit of an investment, but if you can find one on sale then go for it! The colors are a little more translucent than regular polish so they likely won’t be as impactful for complex designs; if you’re feeling like a solid color with long wearing gloss then shellac might be a perfect fit.


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