Shellac vs. Gel Manicures: What’s the difference?

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Image via Instagram/journal_nails

Choosing a manicure you’ll still love to see on your fingertips two weeks post-appointment comes with a laundry list of choices: funky design or solid colour? Round or oval nail shape? And the most fraught manicure choice of them all: shellac vs. a gel manicure?

Shellac nails and gel nails are crowd favourites for semi-permanent manicures. They’re both used by top nail artists and they’re both known for low-chip, long-lasting quality. But there’s a few minute differences that make shellac nails a better fit for some manicure lovers out there. Allow us to clear up the differences between shellac nails and gel nails—so you have one less thing to decide ahead of your next manicure.


The shellac vs. gel nails debate first comes down to the formula used for their similarly shiny, durable looks. Shellac nails are a patented form of polish, with over 100 shades available. Shellac polishes mix two types of nail coating: gel (for durability and nail protection) and traditional nail polish (for colour and shine).

On the other hand, gel nails are made with—you guessed it—liquid gel. It’s not exclusive to one polish distributor. Gel polishes are made with a mix of acrylic monomers and oligomers that harden under UV light to create a hard, glossy coat.


If you’re looking for a long-lasting manicure, you can’t go wrong with either shellac or gel nails. Both manicure variations last between 10 and 14 days. But shellac nails are partially made with standard polish, so they’re more vulnerable to chipping than gel nails.


Where shellac nails lost a half-point for chipping, they earn extra points back for a breezy removal process. Shellac nails can be removed with by a manicurist within five to fifteen minutes—without scraping, thanks to a special acetone-based remover made specifically for shellac polishes.

Gel nails aren’t known for stress-free removal. Peeling off a gel manicure can do serious damage to the surface of your nails—so it’s more common to have gel nails removed at the salon via a good, long acetone soak and scrupulous filing.


Shellac nails and gel manicures have earned their shared reputation for long-lasting nail colour. Choosing between the two comes down to precisely how often you’d like to switch up your nail design. We’ll let you be the judge on the option that’s best for you.

Wedding Nail Ideas

Whether it’s you’re tying the knot, or your just there to celebrate the happy couple, here are some on-trend nail ideas for the big day.

Classic Pink

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image via Instagram/opi

Nothing says bridal like the most classically feminine shade of modern times: Pink. Just don’t forget to add a long-lasting top coat for a chip-free finish that will last well into your honeymoon.

Modern French Tips

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Image via Instagram/aliciatnails

If you’re not into a traditional French-tip manicure, but still want the clean, minimal look, try this new twist on an old classic.


Confetti Nails

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Image via Instagram/blushandhair

Ready to party? Why not try a sophisticated sparkle.


Gold Digger

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Image via Instagram/opi

The perfect balance between out-there and barely-there, this iridescent and cheekily named shade will make your wedding day just a touch more fun.

How To: Fix Brittle Nails

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image via Instagram/Opi

Dry cuticles and brittle, weak, or peeling nails can be frustrating to deal with, and can make your polish chip prematurely.  If this sounds like something you’re dealing with, here are the three major causes and their corresponding solutions.


Problem #1: Mineral Deficiencies
Zinc, Selenium, Iron, and B12 are common mineral deficiencies that can affect nail growth and health.

Solution: Take a daily multivitamin. You can also discuss your diet with your doctor and check your levels of many of these minerals with an easy blood test.


Problem #2: Too Many Manicures                                                                                       

That’s right, there is such a thing as one too many manicures.

Solution: If you can, let your nails breath for a couple of weeks, sans nail polish. Keep moisturiser on hand and routinely use cuticle oil.


Problem #3: Harsh Chemicals
Tidying up around the house and washing the dishes can truly affect your nails. Frequent hand washing or cleaning with harsh chemicals can cause your nails to weaken and even peel.

Solution: Slip on a pair of rubber gloves before you start your housework.