Writer and expert /
So, you’ve bitten the bullet and made the trip to your local nail lady for a shellac manicure. For all the beauty lovers out there, fresh shellac nails are an amazing feeling, but one that’s easily destroyed once you notice a sneaky chip or crack in your otherwise-perfect talons.
Instead of splashing cash each week to maintain those perfect shellac nails, there are a few simple steps you can take to ensure they last that bit longer. Keep on reading to find out our key tips for keeping your shellac manicure in good nick for two to three weeks.
Your shellac nails should remain shiny and chip-free for 14 to 21 days if you take care of them responsibly. Don’t worry about your day to day activities: taking out keys, working on the computer and (light) cooking are no match for the combination of traditional nail polish and gel polish that is shellac. When your days fill up with chores and outdoor fun, remember these important shellac maintenance rules.
If you’re going to be washing dishes, scrubbing floors or gardening, you should reach for a pair of gloves to protect your nails and the delicate skin surrounding them. Wearing gloves is especially important if you’ll be using any harsh detergents or chemicals such as bleach, which can cause the shellac to lift or chip at the edge of your nails. Once that’s happened (if you’re anything like our team of RY beauty experts), you’ll want to call it a day and pick ’em all off to start from scratch. Leave that kind of behaviour in the past by protecting nails first!
Protecting your hands is just as important when you’re having fun as when you’re working. Swimming in chlorinated pools and spending extra time outside in the sun can fade the colour and weaken the shellac. Remember to wash and dry your hands carefully after you’ve been in the pool and apply hand cream plus an SPF product to protect skin and nails.
To hydrate hands before and after chlorine or sun exposure, our go-to product is the Medik8 Hydr8 B5 Hand Cream SPF15.
Keeping your skin moisturised will extend the life of your shellac nails and keep your hands looking healthy and youthful. Use hand cream during the day (reapply as often as needed) and a richer cuticle oil at night before bed. The oil will treat your fingers overnight and keep nails from flaking for lack of moisture.
When it comes to hand creams, opt for anything that’s ultra-nourishing and preferably non-greasy, if only to avoid that awful, sticky feeling while you’re trying to go about your day-to-day tasks. We love the Dermalogica Age Smart Multivitamin Hand & Nail Treatment, especially if your hardworking hands need true TLC. Another favourite is the AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream, which uses Dead Sea extracts to moisturise, smooth and soften.
For a quality cuticle oil, our pick is the OPI Avoplex Nail and Cuticle Replenishing Oil. Using rich, moisturising avocado oil, this product is straight from the nail care professionals at OPI, and is beloved by pros around the world. The Red Carpet Manicure Cuticle Elixir Serum is another hit product and works well to replenish dry skin around the nail bed, including hang nails.
Add a layer of clear top coat polish to your manicure once a week. This will maintain a strong layer of protection between your shellac and the environment. If you’re following the previous two rules – protect and moisturise – adding a clear top coat every seven days will be all you need to keep the polish looking glossy and lustrous. Our recommendations are the OPI Top Coat and the NailsInc 2-in-1 Base and Top Coat.
After 14 to 18 days (depending on how fast your nails grow) you’ll start to notice a bare nail area around your cuticles as your natural nails grow longer. At that point you should make an appointment to visit a professional nail salon or remove the shellac yourself at home using the proper tools.
Do not pick at the polish or attempt to soak nails in acetone remover — this will weaken your nails and decrease the amount of time your next shellac manicure will last. Instead, we’d suggest opting for an acetone-free formula on a cotton pad, then gently pressing on the nails to remove the polish. If your shellac manicure is still in-tact, it should come off quite easily and in one piece. Our go-to for removing shellac nail polish is the OPI Acetone-Free Nail Polish Remover.
Keep in mind that although your shellac manicure can be maintained for up to 21 days, your nails will look better and stay healthier when you change the polish at the first sign of new nail growth. Once you’ve removed your shellac at-home or at a salon, it’s onto the next fab colour — the world is your oyster!
Do you have any tips and tricks for maintaining those perfect shellac nails? Let us know over on Facebook or Twitter!
I'm a journalism grad and avid makeup fan with an unhealthy addiction to buying nude lipsticks, no matter how similar they all may seem. I love chatting to anyone who will listen about my new favourite products, skincare dos and don'ts and practically any other beauty-related topic under the sun. That doesn't mean I'm frivolous with my recommendations, though--you can count on me to give you the nitty gritty on all your wishlist products. In my spare time, you'll find me binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or at brunch with a large iced coffee in my hand.
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