Are Shellac Gel Manicures Safe?

When offered a free Shellac manicure from a local salon, I thought why not? The cost of the service is $30, and I’m not sure this is something I would have gotten done had I not had this offer.

They told me the Shellac mani would last for about 2 weeks- which is accurate. Around the two week mark, my nails grew long enough that you could clearly see a line of demarcation- making me tempted to start peeling it off. They say that you need to dip your finger in acetone to take the polish off, but I was able to peel it off on my own with no added equipment.


Now, although I loved the look of the polish when I initially got it, or maybe I was just excited because I had not had a mani in so long, I recommend that you think twice about getting this done. Here is why….

1. They actually use UV light (the same UV light used in tanning beds) to set the polish. UV light = cancer risk. Now I tan very easily, and I noticed when I got back home that my fingers looked slightly tanner. Not a good look!

2. For some reason, the polish did not dry right on me- when I would take my fingers from under the UV light, the polish would have ridges in it – forcing the nail attendant to start all over – dipping my fingers in acetone, scraping off the polish, and starting from step 1. The whole process took over an hour…

3. During the step of scraping off the polish- they use metal tools. These metals tools look very similar to the equipment used in a dental office or even in the operating room. I began to question how clean are these tools? I know they dip them in cleaner— but are they really that clean. This is something that turned me off to the whole experience.

4. When they scrape off the polish, the tools go beyond your cuticle… a little too close for comfort. I am sure people get cuts all the time from these metal tools. This makes you at high risk for infection.

5. The gel is actually BAKED into your top layer of nail. While this may be OK for once in a while, if you are getting it done all the time, the damage is equivalent to multiple dye jobs on your hair, or use of excess heat.


If shellac manis are still a must for you, here are a couple things you can do to reduce your risks:
1. Pick a creditable salon- you want to make sure that the tools are clean.
2. Apply SPF lotion on your hands- this will help protect your skin from the UV rays.
3. Space out the applications as much as possible- to allow your nails to grow and recover.


Have you guys tried out a shellac mani recently ? Would you recommend it ?

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Lisa Kurian
A physician from the United States, Lisa is passionate about all things health and beauty. She has an interest in helping others find what really works- whether that involves getting healthy, losing weight, or finding beauty products that do what they say.

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