Epic {Nail} Fail

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

Some time ago I think I mentioned going cold turkey on my biogel nail manicures. For those of you who have no clue what this means, biogel is essentially a no-chip alternative to traditional polish, cured and set by UV light.

I gave up because it was a) spendy and b) after having Mabel I knew I would’t necessarily have the opportunity to attend the necessary hour plus long appointment.

From January this year until August I tried REALLY hard to maintain pretty fingertips by the whole paint and file thing myself. It’s official – I am CRAP (wanted to put a more swear-y word here but try to only use profanities for things that truly deserve them) ….at doing anything with my nails.

Pedicures I can manage – perhaps because they last so much longer? but with the constant hand washing, soaking formula bottles in warm water and fairy liquid and general chip inducing Mama chores I do on a daily basis, even the most “Hardcore” of varnish doesn’t last longer than 3 days. And then it’s having the time to do it in the bloody first place.

I’ve tried the base coat and top coat thing. And yes, sometimes if I’m lucky I might do ok for up to a week with the odd slap dash touch up. But then they look pants. And may remain that way for some weeks afterwards.

I met up with a friend of mine last month who was sporting a glossy incredibly perfect coral hue. She told me it was Shellac, that it lasted up to 3 weeks and cost twenty quid. Not cheap as chips admittedly but considerably more reasonable than gel and from a time perspective, worth it’s weight in gold.

It took me oh….about 30 seconds to give up on my personal efforts, pick up the phone and get full on salon-tastic. I have officially been a fan girl of Shellac for the last six weeks or so. It’s so SHINY. Similar to gel in terms of application but way quicker. And it really doesn’t peel, flake or go weird at the edges. So far I’ve been going to appointments on a Saturday morning, James has some Daddy and Mabel time and I have some much needed “me” time.

I’m ok with being a failure in the nail painting department, besides Shellac is my beauty treat to myself.

Another friend of mine has bought a home kit that is a similar product – UV lamp and everything. Her manicure looked lovely actually but I’m worried if I made the investment I’d end up in the same predicament as before, all the products but none of the patience.

Have any of you folks tried Shellac?

Or gel?

Or are you simply rather more talented than me at keeping your own cuticles in check?

Purveyor of short shorts. Make-up junkie. Hopes to grow old disgracefully.
Follow Charlotte on instagram @charlotte.oshea
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55 thoughts on “Epic {Nail} Fail

  1. I am a HUGE fan of Shellac! An old work colleague raved about it, so thought I’d give it a try and I’ve never looked back. Like you, I’m rubbish at doing my own nails – especially if it’s a dark colour (very hard to conceal the mistakes).

    The salons near me charge between Β£20-30 (but that’s London for you!) and on the whole, they’ve been good value for money. If they take their time, it lasts me between 2-3 weeks. Rushed job is 2 weeks at a push. I also find the lighter shades aren’t as hard wearing – I went for a nude/peach for my wedding and honeymoon and it was gone within a week – not sure if using sunscreen everyday had an adverse effect on it but it’s put me off lighter colours. I tend to just go for black or a dark purple or green now.

    My nails aren’t particularly strong and i can only go through 2 rounds of consecutive shellac before I have to give them a break to recover. I now just reserve shellac for a treat or for holidays.

    1. Hi Jo! I find the same – I’ve had a light grey which is gorgeous but didn’t last as well, that was the same for Biogel though to be honest. Sunscreen will have an adverse effect, as will most lotions, it gets underneath the product and seems to “lift” it a bit. x

  2. I’m a Shellac addict too or OPI gels which is the same thing. Living in the sticks the salon near me does it for a tenner a go which is great! I had shellac for my wedding and always for when I’ve a few special occasions in a row. I can make it last 3 weeks and then the nail grows so looks a bit odd. I soak them off myself to save having to pay to take it off and then can justify getting them done a bit more.

    1. A tenner?! Wow – where do you live? amazing! I haven’t heard of the PO version but I absolutely love their colour range of polishes x

  3. Love shellac! I went through a stage of wearing it constantly, but it started to get a bit costly. I too tried the at home option but not only does it not last as long, it just doesn’t look as good. My nails always grow on holiday but break as soon as housework and typing at work begins again. I’m therefore booked in next week, and have decided this will be my monthly beauty treat. Nice nails instantly make you feel more glam!

    1. Don’t they! For months I was trying to hide my nails in meetings or on nights out, I felt they looked so scruffy! x

  4. Hmmm I think i must need to change nail bars, because although Shellac lasts for ages (read months) on my feet, my hands/nails never look nice after 4 days tops! I am going back to full on acrylic, but with coloured tips… i think that would be the cheaper option for me! πŸ™‚

    1. I had acrylics years ago Jess but then I moved and couldn’t find a salon that did them anymore. They were super long lasting. x

    2. You must try Cnd Brisa Smoothing gel under your Shellac – it works very well for thinner nails. No filing on the natural nails and you still get a thin finish – just a little stronger.

  5. I’ve had a Shellac appointment every 3 weeks for the past 2 years and I love it! It lasts nearly 3 weeks and always looks so shiny and lovely, it makes my nails tougher as they used to be very brittle!

    I go with my friend so every 3 weeks it’s nails and gossip time – perfection!

    1. Lisa that’s a great idea! I don’t go with a friend but I do enjoy a gossip with the ladies than run the salon, last appointment the owner had been to Feastival and had been hanging out with Amanda Holden…as you do, apparently she is just as beautiful in the flesh as on the telly (I have had a girl crush on her for years) – some fascinating info for you this Wednesday! x

  6. I love Shellac! Switched from Biogel to shellac a few years ago. I like going to get them done after work on a Friday to switch off form the week and start the weekend. Having your nails done makes you feel so different and polished. When I get them done for holidays, they usually only last about 10 days as all the suncream and sand affects them. But otherwise I get a good 3 weeks out of them. My friend and I tried the home-kit once…it was an epic failure. Looked pretty shoddy (we’re rubbish at painting) and also didn’t last very long at all. I’ll leave it to the professionals…. x

    1. That’s my concern Sian, I cannot paint my right hand for the life of me! In desperation in the past I’ve asked James to do it (!!!!) x

  7. I don’t know if I just don’t get this nail malarkey but I have always hated how gel nails have made my nails look after they’re removed. As much as I love them when their on – and have had them a few times for special occasions – I hate the way my nails are sanded down before the varnish is applied and then scraped at when it’s removed. Plus, my nails always end up so weak afterwards that I don’t think they’d survive being done more than twice in a row.

    But my Mum and sister get theirs done every 3 weeks and seem to have none of these concerns!

    I really do love having painted nails but never actually paint them any more. Perhaps I will give it a whirl this evening when Grand Designs is on!

    1. I felt the same Jennifer, it was all rather “rough” on the nail bed I felt. Shellac seems to be far gentler than the gel removal though, or maybe that’s because it comes “off” easier?

      The only time I could do a decent paint job was during an episode of Downton – I needed a whole hour! x

  8. I love shellac! Haven’t had it done for a while because I have a 3 month old little girl. I used to be quite good at keeping my nails nice even if I didn’t have shellac on but since becoming a mummy they’re a mess! When she’s asleep or being entertained by daddy other things take priority like eating, showering and housework! Plus it’s not just the time required to file and paint it’s the drying time as well…. I’m definitely planning to make regular shellac appointments my treat to myself soon, feel so much nicer with lovely neat shiny nails!

    1. I would find that they would be “almost” dry then Mabel would wake up/I’d get impatient and smudge them – even when using one of those super dry topcoats. The OPI quick dry drops are really great though, I found if I used a polish that only needed one coat they would be ok. Didn’t last as long overall but certainly dried quicker. x

  9. I had shellac continually for about a year. I loved the colour and the shine but its absolutely ruined my nails πŸ™ They are so, so weak now and they look awful. I have to paint them myself at home now as they look simply hideous bare.

    I think I might just be unlucky as most of my friends get shellac regularly and havent had the same issues.

    1. Hi Stacey, that’s unusual – Shellac seems to make my nails stronger if anything (it seems to prevent flaking) but then my natural nails are awful anyway! x

    2. Stacey, I’ve had the same problem. Shellac does gradually weaken the nails, I was cautioned when I first starting using it but I loved it so much that I ignored this and kept doing it. It was fine for a while but just recently I’ve noticed, when I don’t have shellac on, my nails chip a lot more easily than they used to (they used to be very sturdy).
      I do still love shellac and how it looks but I won’t be using it as regularly as I have been!

  10. Love shellac! Like you I’m a mom (1 of 2.5 and 1 6 months) and I do my own. It was a bit of a splurge, but bought myself the Cnd starter kit and put myself on a 2 day course to learn how to do it properly. One downside on trying to do your own though is u always have a perfect hand that lasts well and for me my right hand (although I have perfected the neatness) is the one you tend to find the most wear to as you struggle to seal it properly. They tend to look nice for ten days then the dreaded right hand starts to look tatty and I take them of and start again. This is probably not helped by not wearing gloves when I am doing bottles, baths, washing up etc mind you! Toes last a couple of months and clients I do (without kids) can be anything between 3 – 4 weeks. The problem is if you learn yourself you have to be Cnd trained to use the gel products (have to produce certificates in store when buying products) you will end up like a kid in a sweet shop buying varnish! They bring out 6 varnishes every quarter which at Β£15 a bottle can become a costly varnish addiction!! On the plus side bang on trend pretty talons!

    1. That’s super Louise – especially if you can charge to do other peoples nails. I do try and wear gloves as often as possible but sometimes I just forget!

      I love the shade Tropix – I have it on now, I prefer Shellac colours to Biogel x

  11. I am a total BioGel ADDICT – I have had constant three weekly (6 weeks for toes) nail appointments for the past three years and although I hate how much money I spend on it I just can’t seem to give up. This is partly because the same girl has done my nails for three years, I love her and catching up on the gossip and partly because my nails just look so perfect all the time, it never chips and looks great right up until my next appointment. However, with my baby arriving in 10 weeks time I am starting to feel like I may need to give up the expense and I am really not likely to have the time to disappear for a couple of hours to have my nails done! Perhaps shellac is the answer. I am going to enquire about it at my next appointment. (but I feel very sad to give up on my beloved Bio)

    1. That’s why I gave up – I found I was there for at least 1.5 hours not including travelling time/if they were running late etc

      Maybe give Shellac a go soon and see how you get on? x

      1. I HAD to update – I was Shellac-ed last night and I am so pleased with them! (although I cant comment on their lastability right now) – I can’t believe how shiny they are! I went for ‘Hot Chilies’ which for me right now is just the right mix of pinkey summery brightness meets reddish Christmas-is-on-the-horizon festivity. Love them. (and they cost a tenner less than my usual Bio’s) πŸ™‚

  12. I LOVE Shellac! Have used it on and off for quite a while now. I just love the fact that it is instantly dry and there is also a surprisingly good range of colours to choose from. I do wish though that they would bring out some similar colours to the goregous Essie ones though – they are so beautiful but I just find a traditional manicure doesn’t last.

    Charlotte – what is the grey colour Shellac you’ve had before? Am having my nails done on Saturday and was thinking a grey or bright pink colour. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Emma! I’m pretty sure it’s called city scape? or city something! it’s a pale-ish cool toned grey, lush! x

      EDIT: Ha ha just checked on the image above, it is cityscape! πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks Charlotte! Went for tropix in the end – will try cityscape next time. Loving tropix though – such a beautiful colour πŸ™‚

  13. DIY!!! It’s so affordable! You have to have the correct Shellac Polish and lamp though. I initially tried it with a cheap Amazon lamp and I was lucky if my nails lasted a week. However, since buying the shellac lamp, you can’t tell the difference between a DIY job or a professional job. I invested in all of the proper tools and now I can have gorgeous nails without the hefty price tag. It’s much easier to do than normal polish as you can wipe away any mistakes before you cure it under the lamp. I regularly hold pamper nights with my friends. We all do each others nails over a glass of wine. I really enjoy having ‘me’ time too. It really isn’t that difficult! I never wear normal polish anymore. Good luck!

    1. Gemma this sounds lovely, a friend of mine does something similar with pamper nights. If I included wine though my manicure would be wonky πŸ™‚ x

  14. Charlotte have you tried vinylux? It’s CND and comes in all same shades as shellac you put 2 coats on and a special top coat looks like shellac. No light or anything just sit for 8 minutes, it lasts a good week and comes off with normal polish remover!! It’s amazeballs!!! Best of both worlds! Costs about Β£10 a bottle and same for top coat in my local salon cheaper than nails inc etc Xx

    1. Hi Emma! I have yes – it’s the one that lasts longer. Do you use a base coat? I’ve never got a week out of it though, maybe 5 days? Any special tips for application? x

      1. Yes you need to prep very well with scrubfresh like they prep your nail plate before Shellac application – no basecoat for Vinylux needed. Ask you salon for the retail size and really scrub the nailplate with a scrubfresh soaked cotton bud.

  15. I’m committed to BioSculpture – it’s not cheap but it lasts a good 3 weeks (same issue with greying edges on lighter colours). That said I gave my nails a summer off and found good old Barry M ‘cappuccino’ as absolutely the best nail polish for shine and last ever… actually ever ever. I can get a good 10 days out of a two layer application and it’s super easy to apply. It even survives two swims, hockey and housework! So, happy! They best not discontinue it!

    1. Mel J, I’ve never tried this brand on my nails yet many folks have recommended. DO you use a base coat and/or topcoat? How long does it take to dry? x

      1. Nope, no top coat/base coat faff – a straight two coats and ready to go. It dries in a few minutes. Really is a working woman’s godsend.

  16. I love Shellac too! I got the Iced Cappuccino last night and I feel I am more focussed and professional with nice nails haha! How weird am I?! x

  17. Shellac all the way – never looked back. I have a lamp and the polishes at home. Cost a lot to start with but so much cheaper in the long run!!

  18. As a pro nail tech and educator, the world of nails is a wonderful thing. It’s kept me empolyed full time for the last 16 years!!
    I love wearing gel polish (I don’t actually use the cnd branded shellac but a pure gel which is led curable)
    I know for my wedding I’m going to be doing my own nails (unless one of my educator colleagues are around, don’t trust many with my nails!) and most prob my mum and my sister (she’s my maid of honour) but unless the rest of my family and friends pay me for nails a week before hand it’s judt not going to happen ! Lol

    I would always recommend going to a pro for treatments…. We do it day in day out and have been fully trained in all the h&s etc etc. plus it gives you time out for someone else to take over you can sit and relax ☺️ Xxx

    1. Hi Jessica! What a great job! It’s so nice to hear about someone who is so positive about their chosen field.

      I went today and it was nice to just sit down for half an hour and drink coffee! x

  19. i love gel/shellac was fed up of paing for my daughter an I man ani pedi. So I bought my own kit from sensationail and we do our own now have picked up lots of colours

    If you can paint your nails you can gel them πŸ™‚

  20. I am absolutely with with you on this. My nails even with the salon UV treatment, never last longer than 3 days, tops! However, I didn’t realise there was difference between shellac and gel since they both went in the UV thingy. I asked for a UV set for Christmas last year and got it and it works lovely, however it still only lasts a week at most. Could be down to my amateur application or maybe I’m using gel and not shellac? Must check…

    1. There are 2 different types of gel polish those which are referred to as hybrids like cnd shellac and there are pure gel, gel polishes like ibd just gel polish
      In simple terms a hybrid is a mixture of a soak off gel and a polish and a pure gel is just a thinner (brand dependant) viscosity gel with no polish solvents.
      Having polish solvents in gel from a pro techs view is that the hybrid can gradually thicken in the bottle and mean it doesn’t last as long… Where as a pure gel is totally chemically stable, it’s thickness doesn’t change….. For the consumer I think it’s more about how a product lasts… My pro tech preferences are maybe different than others…,
      I prefer a gel polish which is led curable not just uv as this saves on salon timing and makes my clients happier their service can be done quicker…..
      With regards to the posted link above, it does contain errors…. The amount if uv light you get from a uv lamp is less than you’ll get walking out side fir 10 minutes… There’s been much research into this area and imfortunslry a lot of scaremongering for the consumer…. If you go to a pro nail tech trust in their training an abities… Generally that’s the main differance… I teach nail techs from beginners to competition simmering techs and everyone is different and if you have faith in your pro tech and know they have the training and are insured etc. And of course follow industry standards with all h&s etc. You should be fine xxx

  21. Having been a nail biter from the age of 11, i have tried everything possible to stop biting my nails ready for my wedding day in December. I have been using bio sculpture gel since July and i love it, my nails are long, strong and pretty for the first time in (15) years.

    It is however such a costly and time consuming treat, that whilst i have justified the cost as a pre-wedding essential, from January when we are back from honeymoon and the festive season is over, i can’t afford the varying costs from Β£35-Β£55 every 3 weeks. I am very sad at the thought of my nails being bare and boring but as shellac seems to be so popular with all you ladies i might have to ask for an at home kit from Santa this year……

  22. I love Shellac and similar – my last one was a HC LuxSpa gel polish which I had done in Selfridges and it lasted almost four weeks, a gorgeous mid-grey colour! Had red Shellac on my wedding day and same for my honeymoon and it lasted perfectly for three weeks travelling around Thailand πŸ˜€ I’m pretty good at doing my own polish but never have the patience to wait for it to dry properly so end up smudging one nail and getting really annoyed! However yesterday for the first time I used a top coat called Seche Vite and I tell you what – amazing! Dried really solidly in less than a minute and gives a lovely glossy finish πŸ˜€

  23. Hi Charlotte no base coat with vinylux i tried it with once and it chipped like crazy. I use 2/3 thin coats of colour on bare nails, make sure you go over the tip of your nail. That’s the key I think, then I do 2 coats of top coat letting each on dry again over the tip

  24. How fab to read a great article and thread on the lovely Shellac :0). I am a professional natural nail tech and beauty therapist (www.bettysbeauty.net) and I LOVE my shellac. It is gentle on the nail gives a great shine for up to 14 days. Unlike pure gel polishes Shellac is a hybrid gel and polish, which means no harsh preparation of the nails before its application (such as filing the nail) and it’s easy peasy to remove with acetone pads in 10 minutes. I would always recommend a good professional for a flawless finish and when it comes to your wedding nails or nails for a special occasion, us pros can create the most amazing designs and colour combinations to match your dress/outfit perfectly xx

    1. Hi Laura, I do feel Shellac is more gentle than gel in terms of prep, the acetone was on for so long (with gel) that my skin would get quite red and sore, especially in winter. x

      1. It’s the dehydrating effect of acetone which causes the drying and subsequent soreness of the fingers. To combat this cuticle oil can be applied around the nail before the remover wrap is applied. This lessens the dehydrating effect of the acetone on the skin x Also cuticle oil when used regularly when wearing shellac or gel polish keeps your manicure and cuticles looking good, supports the longevity of the product and helps with more effective product removal…..Try CND solar Oil or Dadi Oil they are brilliant :0)

  25. I love treating myself to shellac and I find it lasts well for two weeks before tarting to chip near the cuticle. Having nice nails always makes me feel better. I tell Rob I am not allowed to do washing up etc after having it done to get out of doing chores for a day or so afterwards! Boys are so gullible. I’m not too bad at doing my own nails but rarely find the time to do them properly. I have just ordered a few new lovely polishes though so some me time is high on the agenda !

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