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What's the Difference Between Gel and CND Shellac Nail Polish?

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Which type of nail polish should you use? Gel or CND Shellac nail polish? Both gel and CND Shellac nail polish offer amazing color, shine, and durability. But the two options have very different benefits, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each before deciding which one to choose. This article compares these two popular types of nail polish to help you decide which one is best for your personal preferences and needs.

The Differences in Application

Shellac nails are similar to gel nails in that they’re both cured under a UV lamp, but Shellac is also a brand of gel nail polish by CND. Gel nails can be applied either by hand or under a UV lamp (which typically requires acrylic powder), while Shellac comes pre-packaged as nail polish. It applies similarly to regular polish and is cured with a special LED light, making it faster than applying gel at home under a UV lamp.

The Differences in Durability

Shellac has a slightly shorter longevity than gel, with some people reporting that it lasts between 10-14 days. This difference stems from Shellac’s thinner application, which means there isn’t as much product to last you for three weeks. That said, most people report that they get at least two weeks out of their manicure—so even if it doesn’t have quite as long of a lifespan as gel polish does, its extended wear time is still very impressive. Both gel and shellac require acetone to be removed from the nails. The only difference is that shellac removes within 60 seconds and requires less scraping when removing unlike gel polish which requires longer soak time and a more aggressive approach during the removal process.

The Differences in Cost

It all comes down to cost. On average, gel manicures and pedicures are slightly more expensive than shellac ones because gels tend to be pricier, and salons often charge a premium for LED/UV curing equipment. If you choose shellac polish you're choosing an option that's less damaging to the natural nails to gel polish's aggressive removal process. The quality of both can vary depending on who applies and removes them so it’s important to find a salon that offers high quality services.

The Differences in Removal Processes

The main difference in removal between gel and CND shellac is time. It takes 60 seconds to remove gel, whereas traditional polish can be removed in less than 10 seconds with a remover specifically made for removing polish. If you have weak nails, gel may not be for you – your nails could break if subjected to gel’s strong adhesion power over extended periods of time. Both gels and CND shellac are made of various solvents, monomers, catalysts, pigment or color additive, co-solvent or plasticizer, buffer and additional ingredients. But when it comes to the removal process there is a world of difference. No matter which gel polish product you choose, be it OPI GelColor, Sally Hansen’s Miracle Cure or any other salon brand gel polish for sale in stores today; each one must be removed in its own special way.

Why Go For One Over The Other?

Put simply, a shellac nail manicure is a semi-permanent polish, while gel is a semi-permanent gel. Though both gel manicures and shellac nails offer a multitude of benefits, including longer-lasting polish, there are a few key differences that set them apart. Both are applied similarly in salons, however it’s important to note that shellac nails do not require UV light curing like gel nails and removes more safely. This allows you to enjoy your own natural nails at home after removing the polish.

What do you prefer Gel or CND Shellac Polish? Let us know in the comments!

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