Shellac VS Gelish

Many of you readers will of heard of both products, Shellac and Gelish, but after all the big question is which is best? Below I am going to explain and attempt to weigh out the pro’s and con’s of both systems and try to make it easier for you to come to a conclusion yourself over which is better for your clients and your nails personally.

The differences:
shellac-cnd_gifBoth systems are seen as competitors as both names have become well known in the industry however they are completely different products and work in different ways. 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. From personal experience I’ve found Shellac easier to work with, it seems a lot smoother as the consistency is slightly thicker and rarely shrinks back from the free edge giving a neat finish.

The similarities:
Gelish-at-SimonasBoth 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 and are ideal for people that don’t want the ‘enhancement’ appearance  These manicures both consist of a base coat, two coats of colour and a top coat.

Which is the safest?:
Personally I find both products safe to use on natural nails, but only if you look after your nails. Nails should be treated like jewels not tools! Gloves must be worn at all times when washing up and gardening and a nail oil such as Solar Oil needs to be applied twice daily to stop the natural nail becoming dry. The good thing about Shellac is that there’s no buffing included at all, not even during the removal. I’ve found myself having to buff the nails of a few naughty clients who refuse to use their Solar Oil though. To apply and remove Gelish you must lightly buff the nails but this will not damage or harm the nails at all. I’ve now witnessed removal of both systems and Gelish does come off a lot cleaner and lifts naturally away from the nails whereas Shellac you must scrape off. Both systems do NOT use primers instead CND use Scrub Fresh and Nail Harmony use PH Bond. Scrub Fresh temporarily dehydrates the nail ready for application whereas PH Bond brings the PH of the nail to neutral. Again both will not damage the nails. Gelish contains properties that adhere to the Keratin in the natural nail allowing the Gelish to bond whilst working with rather than against the natural nails.

The Lamps:
Shellac use a UV lamp which has caused a huge argument over whether this is safe for your hands. Please see my blog post The Daily Fail to read further into why this is a load of baloney created by The Daily Mail. During a Shellac Manicure the UV lamp is switched on for a total of 12 minutes and 20 seconds. This is barely any time at all and for a therapist it shouldn’t be a problem to work with. One of the major down sides to a UV lamp is that the builds regularly need changing every 3-6 months as the light bulbs inside emit light through a gas cylinder. This gas cylinder will slowly stop working, therefore the Shellac will not cure and set completely. The price of a UV CND Lamp is £99.95 + VAT and a pack of 4 replacement bulbs are £34.95 + Vat.
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. This is perfect for any client who’s on the move all the time. An LED lamp with emit light without needing to change the bulbs as they are not created using a gas cylinder. The price of a Gelish 18g LED lamp is £299.95 + VAT.
The initial costs of a Shellac lamp is much less that a Gelish one however in the long run and LED Gelish lamp is much more cost effective.

Colour choice:
Love%20in%20Bloom-500x500There is a clear winner in this category I’m afraid…GELISH! They have a total of 146 colours ranging from dark to light, block to shimmers and glitters and plenty more. Nearly all the colours are fashionable and trendy and so far I’ve failed to come across any I dislike. The less pigmented colours seem a more watery consistency however every colour should be painted thinly of the nails. Their new Love In Bloom collection are absolutely stunning, all bright unusual block colours perfect for the Spring and Summer seasons. Shellac have a total of 51 colours. Although I do like the majority of colours throughout the entire collection there is a lot of reds and a few colours no one would ever wear. A few colours are also very difficult to paint with such as Iced Cappuccino and Silver Chrome as the brush strokes always show through and gives a messy finish.

My conclusion:
Through researching and using both products my conclusion is that both are fabulous. Shellac gives a lot smoother, neater finish however Gelish is  more ideal for someone who is hard on their hands as its a lot harder wearing. Personally many of my clients would prefer to go three weeks with a gel polish than go only two weeks using a permanent nail polish. CND have a better reputation for themselves so far down to their marketing power but I believe Nail Harmony are slowly creeping up and may take the lead with their amazing training and colour choice.

Please leave your personal opinions bellow!

22 Responses to “Shellac VS Gelish”
  1. scarlettsands says:

    shellac shellac shellac!!

  2. Must Have Boxes says:

    I love Gelish! It lasts forever.

    – KW

  3. Linda Pinch says:

    I have only had shellacs, but find they easily last 3 weeks and look as good as problem is my nails grow very quickly, and with a darker color I should really have them redone within 10 days

  4. Hanne says:

    I always was a great Gelish fan but after using 5-6 months every 3 weeks I have a bad allergic reaction… Blisters and cracked skin on fingertips which are really painfull… Doubting to switch to Shellac as they are anti-allergic!!

  5. Natasha says:

    I could never go back to using anything other than Gelish. Everything about it is superior to shellac (in my opinion anyway) my clients love the wide range if colours, the durability and how kind it is to their natural nail.
    I agree with what has been said about shellacs marketing though, as gelish was actually out a year or so before shellac but cnd had much better advertising which is why a lot of people think shellac was out first.
    I am 100% team gelish!

  6. April says:

    A company called UV Nails has a sale this week on a starter kit, do you know how they add up compare?

  7. Januschka says:

    shellac is theeee best gelish just has a better colour selection!!!!!!!!!!shellac needs to get new colours but it is the BEST

  8. jacqui says:

    I dont disagree with anything said here, but do find that some of the lighter colours in Gelish fade considerably, especially when the client is on holiday in the sun.

  9. I love the consistency of Shellac but have never played with Gelish. I do use Orly though and I love their color range but find that it will pull away and can be a bit of a bitca to work with at times.

    • I agree, Shellac is a perfect consistency, I find Gelish and Orly to be a little but rubbery in a way. If only Shellac were as up to trend compared to Gelish and Orly…

      • I completely agree. I love using Orly for all the crazy gorgeous on trend colors and collections. Though I have been able to create a lot of trends with additives and such. Still it’d be nice if they had a neon collection or something.

        Do you ever use Polish Pro? It is compatible with Shellac. I use the bonder & topcoat from Shellac and then the colors from NSI. Removes and last the same as far as the tests I’ve done and how they’ve worn on my clients.

      • I haven’t actually used Polish Pro before purely because I’m too addicted to Shellac at the moment haha!

  10. lou says:

    totally agree with this article, i myself have just trained with Nail Harmony and have recently qualified in Fusion Acrylics and Gelish. Love the colours and i love how hard wearing it is, always getting compliments with my nails, love the bright colours like ‘Brights have more fun’ to the more subtle colour like ‘Need a tan’. And it even looks good on the shorter nails, and can be used on top of acrylics.

    • I’m so glad you agree with my opinions! I have recently found myself a new job within a boutique nail bar, it’s so pretty, where they use Gelish and Shellac. Everyone chooses to go for Gelish because it lasts a week longer than Shellac and the colours are far better x

  11. April Schutt says:

    I’m an at home user here and starting using Gelish. I have a cheap Sensationail LED light. My problem is that everything seems to look great, I put the top coat on and then once I srub off the nail with rubbing alcohol to get the sticky-ness off it’s like everything falls apart. The polish shrinks like crazy. What could I be doing wrong? Is it possible my light is not strong enough to be curing very well? Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Hi April, sorry I no longer run this blog…however, your lamp is definitely not strong enough and isn’t curing the gelish enough. Switch to one of the official gelish lamps and you shouldn’t have a problem after the top coat. Gelish does have a tendency to shrink back though when painting so make sure you cap your free edge. X

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] 08:28 PM I love both! However feel free to check my blog post Shellac VS Gelish | TheApprenticeBeautyBlogger which will hopefully clear up the pros and cons to you […]

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