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Gel VS Shellac Nails: Which One Should You Choose?

If there is one thing that can instantly put me in a better mood and make me feel like a new woman, it’s getting my nails done. There is something so relaxing and therapeutic about it. I love picking out new styles, catching up with my nail technician, and admiring my nails after they are finished. Having a fresh set of glossy, neat, and perfectly shaped nails makes me feel like I am ready to take over the world. 

Also, don’t get me started on how much more convenient it is than using regular nail polish. I don’t have to worry about them chipping, and the endless wait for the polish to dry also isn’t a problem of mine. But before you book your appointment and pick out a color, there is one important thing that you have to decide: gel nails or shellac nails. Which one should you choose?

What’s the difference? 

People who aren’t that into getting their nails done probably don’t even know what the difference is between gel nails and shellac nails. Let me make it clear, the difference isn’t that big, but there is still one. Shellac gel is more of a nail polish and gel hybrid, while gel manis are pure gels. That means that gel manicures are more durable, and harder to remove, and they will also form a protective layer that will prevent your nails from breaking. On the other hand, shellac combines the best of both worlds. The convenience of a gel mani, with the simplicity of regular polish.


Which one should I choose?

My personal preference is shellac gel. Why? The whole process is much faster, it’s significantly cheaper in most salons, and I still get that glossy gel look. Since I get my nails done every two weeks, and I don’t enjoy having long nails anyway, I don’t need the durability and protectiveness of regular gel. However, if you go 3 to 4 weeks in between your visits to the nail salon, and you like to keep your nails longer, then gel would be the better option for you. 

Truthfully, it’s all up to personal preference. As someone who has tried both on many occasions, I just don’t feel as if there is a need for me to splurge on a gel manicure when shellac works just fine. Both of these techniques use UV light to cure the polish, both of them can’t be removed with regular nail remover, and both offer a variety of color options. If you choose to do your nails at home, your best bet would be shellac. It’s easier to both apply and remove, and the chances of you messing up your nails are lower when compared to gel. 

Are gel and shellac manicures bad for you?

This is such a controversial topic. In short, yes, they can be. As I have already explained, both of these techniques require UV light, which means that the skin that covers your hands is exposed to UVA and UVB rays. Skin cancer can occur on any part of the skin, the hands included. Even the skin underneath your nails can be affected. That’s why I always make sure to apply sunscreen to my hands before I visit the salon. I know, it’s still not perfect and risk-free, but it’s still safer than not wearing any SPF at all. 

Hi. I am a medical student and a freelance writer from Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. I speak fluently Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, English and German.