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The Difference Between Gel Polish And Shellac


High-quality manicure is essential for any girls who wants to look stylish and hot. All of us have definitely heard of terminology associated with nail art. But most questions arise around the concepts of ‘Shellac’ and ‘gel polish’. Both of them ensure a long lasting attractive nail coating, but can these terms be considered the same or are there significant differences between them? Let's try to figure it out.

Let's get straight into the essence - are there any differences in composition and properties?

Gel polish and Shellac provide a flawless nail look for a long time. To understand how they are different, you need to consider the composition and active ingredients. It is this criterion that is crucial for the characteristics of a coating.

What Does Gel Polish Consist Of?

The plastic gel substance, which requires an ultraviolet lamp to dry, consists of five groups of active substances:

  1. Photoinitiator. The non-toxic, eco-friendly component ensures the correct response to UV radiation. After the absorption of the rays in the structure of the coating, transformation processes start, and lead to gel polish hardening. A burning sensation on the nails after placing the fingers in the dryer is a sign of a large photoinitiator amount, which promotes active polymerization in the shortest period of time possible.
  2. Film former. Its purpose is to form a reliable protective barrier against external factors harmful to the coverage. The durability of the manicure depends on the quality of this component.
  3. Thinner. This one is usually represented by several names. The main purpose of these components is to determine the structure of the gel polish, the level of its adhesion to the nail plate and how easy it would be to remove such coating.
  4. Pigment. Its amount determines the final coating density.
  5. Filler. These are special components that provide additional coating effects - different texture or color. The product of such inclusions is matte top coat, cat eye polish, etc.

Peculiarities of Working with Gel Polish

The use of gel polish requires mandatory pre-treatment of the nail plates with a primer, and applying a base coat, after which you can proceed to the manicure using the preferred color coating. To remove it, you will need foil and a specialized product, a nail file for filing the top layer or a machine for hardware manicure with grinding attachments.

Shellac Composition

In this polish tool for creating a beautiful long-lasting manicure, the properties of regular and gel varnish are combined. The composition includes:

  • acids - aleuretic, shellolic, dihydrooxyphicocerolic;
  • shellac wax 5%;
  • water;
  • water-soluble pigment.

Shellac melts at a temperature of 80 to 120 degrees, and for its hardening, just like for gel polish, a special lamp is needed.

Application and Removal

A characteristic of Shellac that distinguishes it from gel polish, is that it is very easy to use, and you don't need any preparation for this kind of manicure.

The primer can be used instead of degreaser, and there’s no need to buff your nails, so the nail plate is not injured. To remove such manicure, use a regular nail polish remover without acetone in its composition. There is no need for filing either.

What To Consider When Choosing the Product: Pay Attention To The Label

Many people confuse gel polish and Shellac, calling all nail products requiring a UV lamp ‘Shellac’. In a professional environment, Shellac systems are divided into three categories - one-, two- and three-phase. The first group is the classic Shellac, which does not require the use of a primer, base, and top coat. The other two groups require more time and additional funds.

In the huge niche of gel polishes, products representing three-phase systems are most popular. Such coating is the most resistant, providing even the most fragile nails with a reliable polymer shield. The plates are coated in three steps - base, colored gel polish, and top, fixating each layer in a UV lamp.

How Necessary Is The Base Coat?

For a three-phase system, the base coat is of particular importance. It provides:

  • strong gel polish adhesion to the nail plate;
  • prevention of the pigment migration that can result in a change of the natural nail color;
  • elimination of aesthetic defects and irregularities of the nail plate;
  • enhancing the color saturation and gel polish effect;
  • reducing the risk of injury when removing textured coating;
  • chip and crack nail protection.

Top Coat Is Essential When Finalizing You Manicure

It is usually paired with two- and three-phase coatings, which ensures an amazing result:

  • reliable fixation of the color layer;
  • burnout and cracking gel coating protection;
  • preservation of gloss and shine of gel polish;
  • ensuring the elasticity of the coating.

When looking for the right base and top coats, as well as gel polish and Shellac, it is important to pay attention not only to the composition, but also to the quality of the brush - it should be wide and flat. A sign of the high quality of the polish is its homogeneous dense structure that makes it easier to apply it to the nails.

Shellac or Gel Polish: Which One Is Better

This question cannot be answered in a simple way. It all depends on the purpose of your manicure, as well as the health state of the nails.

At home, of course, it is recommendable to work with Shellac which is much easier to use. It is better not only for naturally strong and healthy nails with no tendency to delamination and brittleness. This option is also preferable for thin nail plates that are easily injured during grinding, which is mandatory for a gel manicure.

While gel polish comes in a wide range of colors and textures, Shellac fascinates with its bright saturated shades and innovative technologies of thermal effects that provied a change in the the coating color under the influence of ambient temperature. However, such manicure cannot be fixed, while the gel coating, if necessary, can be repaired, keeping the design looking good for another couple of weeks. The average duration of Shellac wear is about 2 weeks, and for gel polish this time is doubled.

Thus, the choice depends only on your personal preferences. Some people are guided by the durability, and maximum strength of the nails, others are trying to keep their nails safe working with non traumatic Shellac coating, which can be easily replaced after a couple of weeks without having to go to the salon. Shellac and gel polish are two names of the same thing with a fine line between them. In any case, the result is sure to meet your expectations, pleasing the eye with well-manicured fingers with a fashionable & neat nail look.

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