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Shellac versus Gelish Nails

September 15, 2014

Here at The Spa at Castlemartyr Resort not only do we do great nails but we have three different polishes to choose from with Vinylux, Shellac and Gelish. It can be very confusing. How is a girl to know what’s what and which is best polish for her manicure? So I have decided to try out Shellac and Gelish and present my findings to you all so you can decide which one is the best for you.


Like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, these two are practically the same on the surface. Both systems are seen as competitors as both names have become well known in the industry however if we want to get technical about it, they are completely different products and work in different ways. Both systems come in the form of a bottle, are instantly dry when leaving a salon, will not chip/smudge for at least two weeks and can be quickly applied and removed to natural nails. Shellac and Gelish are painted over natural nails to give a clean, perfectly polished look. Both brands apply smoothly like polish, use a base coat, colour and top coat, and are cured under UV light – in the case of Gelish you can also use an LED lamp which makes it much quicker to apply.


Firstly CND’s Shellac are known as ‘ The Original Power Polish’ and Nail Harmony’s Gelish know themselves as ‘The original brush-in-bottle, high-shine gel nail polish.’ Both slogans are completely true even though they both claim themselves to be ‘the original.’ This is because Shellac is a form of permanent nail polish whereas Gelish is a gel polish (a gel in the form of a polish) Many people believe Shellac to be the first but this is more down to CND’s amazing marketing team compared to Nail Harmony’s at the time.


Shellac will only last around 2 weeks and Gelish will last 3 weeks on the average person. Unfortunately not everybody can be kind on their hands so it may not last this exact amount of time. I found that both Shellac and Gelish nails lasted just the bare two weeks and I needed to remove them at this stage while others will tell you they can get three weeks out of Gelish and even Shellac at times however, personal I think it depends on the condition of your nails and what you are doing over those weeks. My poor nails tend to be week and peel so they break under the polish and that causes the chipping. The main difference I found between the two is that Shellac seems to be thicker than the Gelish Polish when it is finished however, the Gelish Polish shrinks that bit more from the LED Lamp than the Shellac.

Shellac use a UV lamp which has caused a huge argument over whether this is safe for your hands. Gelish advise to use a LED lamp to set the Gelish under. LED lights have not yet been accused of causing any harm to any clients and there’s no claims of the light causing skin cancer…yet anyway. A Gelish manicure is considerably shorter than a Shellac one, the hand is under the light for a total of 2 minutes unless you’re wanting the French Manicure effect which takes 2 minutes and 15 seconds.


One factor that Gelish have up on Shellac is the colours as they offer a much larger variety ranging from dark to light and all are fashionable and trendy.

So to conclude I think both products are fabulous and from there it is down to personal choice and your own nails. I don't think it's a matter of one being better than the other, those who are used to wearing Shellac know that it is a great product. And lets face it, CND's superior marketing power has made it much more well known than Gelish. However, Gelish may be more durable and better for people who are hard on their nails from discussing with others. ThereforeI will end by quoting my therapist for each trial “Choose your favourite colour from both ranges and let the colour determine your decision”.

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