What is Shellac Nail Polish/Varnish? Kit, Colors & How to apply

Shellac  sounds quite an interesting yet confusing name. What exactly is shellac nail polish  and what is it made up of? How do you apply this polish on nails at home?  Read on to find more in addition to , how it’s different from gelish, the best Kits, Colors, where to buy , tutorials and designs.

What is Shellac Nail Polish/Varnish?

Shellac is actually the brand name given for a patented product (Made by CND company) that is basically the next generation of nail polishes. Shellac is actually a hybrid between nail polish and lamp cured gel color.

It applies similarly to a nail polish but still requires curing time on a UV lamp to be set. Typically, it lasts anywhere from 2-3 weeks and offers an in-between semi-permanent solution for those that want to get a similar look to a nail polish with longer lasting results.

Shellac nail Polish

Ingredients-What is shellac nail polish made of?

The basic Shellac formula regardless of the color contains the main following ingredients:

  • Iron oxides and pigments derived from the secretions of Kerria Laca Insects
  • Colloidal silicon
  • Shellac Wax
  • Polydextrose
  • Talc
  • Stearic Acid
  • Butyl Acetate
  • Oligomer (photo-initiator chemical compounds that react with the UV light to cure the nail)
  • Monomer compounds like Methacrylate which are a type of monomers that generate polymers to get the nail polish hard and dry, under a UV light lamp.
  • Titanium Dioxide

And a few inactive ingredients that help make the consistency of the product better.

How does Shellac work and how do you apply it & Cost?

How much does it cost to get Shellac nails?

It depends on if it is at home or at the salon by an expert. The cost can also vary depending on the location, country, city etc. Regardless, the cost of getting a shellac manicure can be higher compared to regular manicure simply because of the process needed to set the polish.

You prefer doing it the salon, the price will vary  from salon to salon. Touch up and and removal can  also be an additional cost. Also note the the CND French manicure can be slightly higher.

How it works and how to apply

Shellac ingredients and more specifically Methacrylate and other oligomer compounds start to activate as soon as the nail and polish are exposed to the UV lamp for curing and start to move till the polish is dry and set.

The basic steps for applying Shellac nail polish are as follows:

  • Shake the bottle to revive its consistency
  • Apply a layer of the matching Shellac UV Base Coat and cure it under a UV lamp.
  • Apply a thin layer of your desired Shellac color to all 5 nails of a hand consecutively. Cure the polished fingers under the UV lamp for 2 minutes and then repeat the same process to the other hand.
  • Apply a second layer of color using the above same process. Some colors may also need an additional third layer to become more opaque—again you can apply a third layer using the same process as above.
  • Follow with a Shellac top coat on top of the cured nail polish, painting the 5 fingers of one hand at a time and then cure for another 2 minutes.

Tip: the brand suggest that best results are achieved by building thin layers instead of too thick layers and performance improves by sealing the tips.

Shellac French Manicure Application Tutorial by CND


Applying Shellac at Home

The videos have shown you how to apply shellac. Here a guide on how to remove shellac with or without acetone at home

How long does a Shellac Manicure last?

Typically and if you or the nail manicurist has done all the steps properly, it will last anywhere from 12-20 days. The average time reported by shellac users is 2 weeks. If you are careful enough and wear gloves when performing tasks like washing the dishes or doing other chores, you can make it last for 3 weeks or almost a month.


CND Shellac Nail Polish Colors

Currently the CND brand carries more than 30 popular shades like pink, white, beige, red, purple, burgundy, blue, and nude brown shades. Some of the names of the colors are as follows:

  • Mother of Pearl–A pearly white shade with cool undertones
  • Cream Puff– An off-white beige shade with warm undertones
  • Negligee—A frosty white shade with subtle cool pink and silver pigments
  • Beau—A very light white pink shade with cool undertones
  • Clearly Pink—A shade similar to beau, only half a shade darker
  • Romantique—A light cool-toned lavender shade
  • Strawberry Smoothie—A light to medium cool pink shade
  • Rose bud—a medium warm pink shade
  • Gotcha—a medium true pink shade with neutral undertones (resembles the color of cotton candy)
  • Hot Pop Pink—a vibrant medium fuchsia pink shade with neutral undertones
  • Tutti Frutti—a true fuchsia pink shade that is a shade darker than Hot Pop pink
  • Tropic—a coral pinkish red shade, perfect for summer
  • Hot Chili—a red berry shade with dark pink undertones
  • Hollywood—a deep red shade with neutral to cool undertones
  • Red Baroness—a deep red wine shade
  • Decadence—a dark red burgundy shade with neutral to cool undertones
  • Masquerade—a very dark burgundy shade, similar to decadence only a touch darker and cooler
  • Ice Coral—a frosty very light coral white with silver pigments
  • Iced Cappuccino—a very light cool brown/beige shade
  • Cocoa—a warm light orange/brown shade
  • Rock Royalty—a dark purple blue shade with cool undertones
  • Fedora—a medium to dark cool brown shade
  • Black pool—a gunmetal black shade
  • Studio white—a true white shade with no obvious undertones
  • Moonlight roses—a pearly white shade with subtle pink glitters
  • Zillionaire—a glossy white shade with silver glitters
  • Hotchki to Tochcki—a medium true teal shade
  • Purple-purple—a medium blue purple shade
  • Asphalt—a very dark grey/faded black shade.

Shellac Nail Polish Kit

A shellac Nail Polish kit is typically available to professionals from representatives, from the brand’s online store, or from sites like Ebay and Amazon and has all the essentials for trying out the Shellac system such as:

  • Shellac base and top coat
  • Nail Buffers
  • A Professional UV curing lamp
  • A solar cuticle oil
  • Orangewood removers
  • Remover wraps
  • A choice of 2-3 shellac colors

A kit like this is typically sold anywhere from $80-120, depending on the online seller and the number of products contained.

Gelish vs Shellac- What are Differences and Similarities?

Original Shellac nail polish is made by CND (Creative Nail Design) Company While Original Gelish is made by Hand and Nail Harmony-Anything that looks, works, or is applied as these two but not made by the companies is neither gelish nor shellac


  • The are both natural nail overlays, that is you paint them on your natural nail as opposed to extensions
  • Applying the polishes is similar that base-coat, 2-3 layers of nail color and then a top-coat
  • They can both be removed by acetone
  • There is no drying time- you either UV  or LED lamp
  • Both give a long lasting manicure with a high shine. Shellac up to 2 weeks and gelish up to 3 weeks


Both shellac and gelish may be considered fundamentally the same based on the way the work but there still things that make them different

  • Formulation/chemical structure-Shellac CND is said to be the original Power Polish combines the ease of polish with the
    performance of UV cure gels. It is composed of solvents and this is why you have to shake it(to mix the solvents and color) before use
    On the other hand, gelish is pure gel. It is said to be the original brush-in-bottle, high-shine gel nail polish
  • Basing on the duration they last, gelish (3 weeks) lasts longer than shellac(2-3 weeks). However, the time entirely depends on the condition of your nails and what you are doing over those 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Shellac can only be cured by UV light while Gelish can be cure by both LED and UV. LED takes is 30-second task while UV will recquire about two minutes for every coat.
  • Basing on the fact that shellac can only be cured under UV it means the whole application process will take more time. Therefore, gelish cures faster than shellac.
  • In terms of removal shellac will get off faster than gelish. For shellac, all you need is to directly soak in acetone in 10 minutes and gently scrap off. For gelish, which takes more time, you will need to break top seal by gently roughing the surface with a file of your choice then use acetone. The whole process can take between 15 to 20 minutes
  • Another difference is in terms of colors. Gelish comes in more colors while shellac has few shades
shellac vs gelish nail polish
Differences between Shellac and Gelish

Where to buy Cheap Shellac Nail Polish Online

If you want to purchase Shellac color separately, it is available online in its own site (cnd.com), Amazon, and Ebay. Each bottle costs typically anywhere from $12-18 depending on the color and the seller.

Shellac Pros & Cons

As with all types of mail polishes, shellac comes with its own set or pros and cons such as


  • It usually lasts double the time of a regular nail polish and results can sometimes last even to 3 weeks
  • It’s less permanent and thicker than gel and doesn’t damage the nail as much as a gel

The only major Shellac cons are that it can sometimes flake off when you are performing any heavy duty or cleansing tasks and that the range of colors is a bit limited for those who fancy more crazy and vibrant looking colors.

Why does my Shellac peel off?

Although shellac is specially formulated to last more than ordinary nail polish, it may start to chip or peel off if you perform any cleansing tasks like washing the dishes or come into contact with liquid substances. This is why it’s recommended that you wear a glove when doing such tasks to prevent it from peeling off faster.

Shellac Nail Polish Designs

Originally posted 2021-01-01 18:36:21.

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