How to Apply Shellac Nail Polish

Most people are surprised at just how easily they're able to do a shellac manicure by themselves. All it really takes is some practice and of course a little patience and before you know it you'll be designing your own shellac manicure from the comfort of your home. I run a salon in Carnforth Lancashire I would always recommend you visit a professional nail technician for the best possible results, but sometimes money and time don’t allow.

In this article we will take a look at how you can easily do your shellac nails yourself, including some important tips on how to keep your nails healthy and looking beautiful.

I recommend using the CND Shellac brand as I have found that it lasts the two weeks as promised when applied properly, stays super shiny, doesn't chip and is easier to remove than some of other brands of gel nail polish.


 To apply your Shellac polish you will need:

  • Your Shellac colour coat of your choice
  • A Shellac top and base coat
  • A 36W UV Lamp
  • CND ScrubFresh
  • A 240-grit nail file
  • A cuticle pusher
  • A cuticle nipper
  • Lint-free nail wipe
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol
  • Cuticle oil

 Steps for applying your Shellac

    • First start by preparing your nails by filing the edges of your nails with your 240-grit nail file in order to shape the nails ensuring that the edges are smooth. Then clean to remove any remaining dust which may exist as a result from the filing.
    • Using your cuticle pusher, gently push back and clean the cuticles to reveal the nail. Try not to push back too hard as this may result in you damaging the cuticle. If necessary use your cuticle nipper to cut and remove any hang nails. Using your alcohol wipes or lint-free nail wipe soaked with your CND ScrubFresh wipe the nails clean.
    • Forcefully shake your Shellac Base Coat to ensure the ingredients are well mixed.
    • Apply a very thin even layer of your Shellac Base Coat to each nail starting at the cuticle and stroking towards the tip of the nail using even strokes. The best way to obtain a perfect base coat is to ensure that when applying the base coat you apply every layer thinly and all the way to the tip, continuing with each nail until all your nails have an even base coat.
    • Using your Shellac UV Lamp cure each hand for at least 10 seconds. You'll notice that your manicure at this point will begin to have a sticky residue. This is normal, leave it alone until the final step of your shellac manicure.
    • By now you would have already picked out a suitable color for your shellac manicure and are now ready to apply it to your nails. Begin by applying a thin layer of your shellac nail polish using broad even strokes from just inside your base coat at the cuticle to the tip of the nail. (Leaving a 1mm margin inside of the edge of the base coat will ensure that the color will be sealed in during the final stage of the shellac manicure.) Then cap the tip of the nail with the colour polish. If you need to clean any smudges on the cuticle or skin which you probably will if this is your first time, use your wooden cuticle stick to wipe it clean.
    • Cure using your Shellac UV Lamp, this time for 2 minutes.
    • Apply a second layer of your shellac nail polish using the same technique as in step 6.
    • Cure again with your Shellac UV Lamp for another 2 minutes.
    • Now you're ready to start applying your top coat. You're pretty much going to utilize the same method for applying the previous coats, but this time you're going to extend the polish to the edge of the base coat covering the coat and the other two layers completely. Again cap the tip with the top coat.
    • Cure this final coat using your Shellac UV Light for an additional 2 minutes.
    • Using your lint-free nail wipe soaked in a 99% alcohol solution, wipe the nail clean to remove any sticky residue on your fingers.
    • Apply cuticle oil to each nail and rub over cuticles and nail plate.

Congratulations, you have just applied your first Shellac Manicure!


 Troubleshooting

    • Why are my nails dry? Women have found that their nails become very dry after a shellac manicure. It is highly recommended to use use a cuticle oil on a daily basis which will effectively solved this problem.
    • Why is my polish not curing? If your polish is not curing properly there are a number of causes for this. Most often it is due to application issues such as the base, top or colour polishes have not been mixed well. Ensure you vigourously shake your bottles prior to use. The polish may not cure completely if they have been applied too thickly. Be sure to apply each layer sparingly. Curing issues can also be related to the UV bulbs being used. You should check the bulbs in your UV lamp as the bulbs may need to be replaced. The bulbs may still emit the purple blue lamplight long after the UV intensity decreases.
    • Why is my Shellac bubbling or shrinking under the UV lamp? The simple answer is that it has been applied too thick. It is absolutely essential that very thin layers are applied. To acheive this ensure you wipe the majority of the polish off the brush by using the neck of the bottle. Do not worry when applying if the colour is somewhat transparent as this will be resolved when the second (and occassionally a third) coat is applied. The motto to a successful long lasting shellac manicure is "thin to win"!
    • Why is my polish dull? If you are using a less than 99% isopropyl rubbing alcohol solution to remove the tacky residue you may not achieve the full sheen of your Shellac manicure. When purchasing your nail cleaner always ensure you're getting the 99% alcohol.
    • My nails are brittle and prone to splitting, can I use Shellac? If your nails are damaged, dry, brittle they will not wear polish very well as they will easily chip or peel.  Women known to have ridged, brittle or splitting nails are strongly advised to use a Brisa Gel as a base for strengthening the nails before using the Shellac nail polish. To try to repair your damaged nails have a look at my tips on my blog 'How to repair damaged nails'.