I’m a creature of habit. Since my teens, it’s been the same old nail routine. When I started to hear the hype about the newest trend, “Shellac?” I snickered, “Don’t mess with my manicure!” I’m resistant to change—all these years of getting my nails done has become a bit of a ritual. But after hearing rave reviews on how this new procedure is fret-free, smudge-proof and long lasting, my curiosity was piqued. And then, I finally found the straw that would break my, um, last pinky nail.
A recent regular manicure I received hours before a wedding went awry. Just as I entered the reception—I spied an unsightly chip. A waste of money, yes, but far more precious these days—wasted time I spent at the salon. We put a man on the moon and we can buy vanilla lattes with our phones, yet my polish can’t stay put for a special occasion? Enter Shellac.
Shellac is a professional service that launched in salons globally in May 2010 after about five years of research, and it has become the Holy Grail of nail care. The chemists at CND (Creative Nail Design) invented a modern solution to the normal polish inconveniences that frustrate women. It promises a flawless mirror finish that resists dullness and chipping, even during the most rigorous activities for 14 days. Really. Really?
Slightly skeptical, I headed to Hollywood Salon and Day Spa in Miller Place to get my power polish on. “Once you Shellac, you never go back,” warned Dawn Kelly, my skilled nail technician at Hollywood. From the start it was different. The service begins as a dry manicure—because adding moisture to the hands will hinder the adhesion. Where cuticle oils or creams would normally be used to soften the area in preparation for grooming, Dawn used a lubricant to push back my cuticles without water. She assured me the pampering element of getting your nails done is not lost—it’s at the very end of the treatment. She gently buffed my nails, shaped them and the bed was made, so to speak.
Shellac (which is also available for pedicures) paints on like polish—base coat, color, top coat—and is cured in a UV light so there is zero dry time. After each layer, Dawn slipped my hand under a light box for about 30 seconds. While the exposure is minimal, she explained some clients wear fingerless gloves or apply sunscreen before the procedure to offset the potential risks associated with UV exposure.
I initially thought getting Shellac would take a great deal longer than a regular manicure, but it only adds an additional 12- 15 minutes. And the real bonus: You don’t have to worry about smudging it. As far as cost, it’s typically a 50 percent upcharge, explained Dawn. For me, the entire process took about 35 minutes from start to finish. When my phone started to ring, I looked at Dawn very apprehensively, but she said it was totally fine to rummage through my handbag to get it. “Really, they’re totally dry? Are you sure?” Ooh, I could get used to this!
“It’s really amazing,” remarked Dawn, a nail technician for 25 years. “I’ve been in the business a long time. I’ve seen a lot of things come and go and there really hasn’t been anything new and exciting for manicure clients in a very long time, but this is truly revolutionary.”
Shellac will not damage your nails, as long as it is removed properly by a nail professional. If for some reason a corner lifts, you should never peel it off. At the salon, they’ll wrap your nails with remover (acetone—same as a regular manicure) for about 10 minutes.
Kathy Magnus, a manager at Joseph Christopher Salon & Spa in Long Beach says they introduced the Shellac service less than a year ago and it’s quickly outshining the standard manicure. “It’s great. There’s no drying time, you walk out and you’re done,” she says. According to Kathy, once their clients hear about Shellac and get it done for the first time, they’re hooked. “For what you’re getting, the price is right,” she says. At Joseph Christopher, the regular manicure is $20, and Shellac is only $35.
“It really lasts—no chips, no smudges, your nails look great. I just got it done yesterday—I love it.”
I found the experience worth the splurge, but important to note is CND Shellac Power Polish is a product, not a general service category. Many women go into the salon and ask for “Shellac” but end up getting a gel mani or “me-too” product, which is not the same in terms of wear or removal. After trying another well-known brand in the category, Dawn feels Shellac is superior and she advises clients to be sure the salon is Shellac-certified. (For Long Island locations you can visit http:www.cnd.com.)
The results: a solid two weeks after my first Shellac, and even as I type on day 13, not one chip, nick or crack. Besides the hardly noticeable new growth at the base, my nails are still shiny and perfect.