A new craze that goes by the name of shellac has recently exploded onto the mani/pedi scene thanks to its long list of benefits when compared to other types of manicures. But you may be wondering if this technique, that has been given such high praise, is a little too good to be true. In the second part of our Organic Nail Care series we’ve broken down the pros and cons of shellac for you!
What is shellac?
If you’re familiar at all with a mani/pedi, then you’ve probably heard about the new technique known as a shellac manicure. For those of you who have never heard the term or who aren’t sure of what it is exactly, don’t fret; we’ve got you covered!
Shellac is the trademarked product of Creative Nail Design (CND), a beauty supply store based in California. After five years in the developmental stages, CND released the first ‘hybrid’ nail polish and called it shellac. The product is half regular nail polish, half gel and is typically applied with two colour coats and a top coat. A couple minutes under a special UV light between each coat then helps to cure the colour and set the polish. The product is sold only to licensed professionals to ensure safer use and application. There are also similar product sold by other companies which essentially do the same thing – Axxium is one.
Why use shellac? – The Good
Shellac is a hybrid of gel and common nail polish so it has benefits from each. Like a gel polish, it is durable, smudge proof and has long lasting colour while on the other hand, it goes on smooth and does not require filing like gel manicures do. This is important because the filing process done during a gel manicure can damage the nail bed. Shellac Nails are also very convenient because they are quick to dry. With shellac nails you won’t be caught trying to fish things out of your purse without wrecking your nails; just a couple minutes under a UV light and you’re ready to go! The nail color also typically lasts longer than polish alone – often 2 weeks.
Why not use shellac? – The Bad
Now onto the interesting part. Why shouldn’t you have a shellac manicure done?
While shellac is quick to apply, it is not as convenient as it may seem. First of all, to have your shellac nails applied or removed you must go to a salon because shellac is only sold to licensed professionals, which means it is impossible to do yourself. There is also usually a fee charged for the removal of the shellac and although there are ways to get around this, the safest way is to return to a salon.
What are the health risks? – The Ugly
Another problem that arises when it comes to removing shellac nails is the use of acetone. The cotton wraps used to remove shellac are soaked in 100% acetone which is extremely drying to the nails and an irritant to the eyes and throat.
UV exposure has become a concern because of the special lamps that clients must leave their hands under during the application process. While research is still being conducted, it is thought that the cumulative exposure to UV rays after multiple shellac applications may pose a risk to the client of developing skin cancer.
Shellac contains methylpyrrolidone, a chemical that is used to dissolve other chemicals. In June 2001, methylpyrrolidone was added to California’s Prop 65 list of toxic chemicals as a chemical discovered to cause reproductive toxicity.
Shellac is really damaging to your nails. Your nails will appear stronger while you have it on but as soon as you remove it, you will be sorely disappointed. Most people will expereince extreme nail splitting and weakness for 6 months while their nails grow out.
How to get a great manicure while keeping your nails healthy!
As a natural spa, Alma doesn’t do shellac manicures and don’t recommend them to our clients due to the risks discussed above. We do offer a shellac removal service at our spa that doesn’t use acetone for the removal so if you do already have it on, we can help get your nails on the road to recovery. There are some really fantastic natural polishes out there that are durable and beautiful!
However if you would like to try shellac and keep the damage to your nails as minimal as possible we do have some suggestions:
• Take breaks between the removal and application of new shellac to allow your nails to breathe and moisture to return to them.
• Make sure your salon of choice uses the correct methods and products for application and removal to ensure the safest possible experience.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with this so share your comments below!