Q&A #2 Why are a few of my Shellac clients peeling?

Top Question #2

Q: Why is Shellac peeling on some of my clients?

A: Proper Preparation, Application, Curing, Home Maintenance

1. Preparation

  • The first step is to make sure you are doing proper P.E.P.

P.E.P. includes

  • P-erform Mini Manicure = Removing the Cuticle off the nail plate
  • E-liminate Surface Contaminants = ScrubFresh
  • P-Purify Nail Plate = ScrubFresh

Note: If your client experiences natural nail delamination (peeling)…

Lightly buff the area with a 240 grit or higher buffer. If there is excessive delamination discontinue the service until the nail grow out (thus avoiding damaging the natural nail with too much buffing).

“Please refer to the Shellac Step-by-Step directions for detailed P.E.P., application and removal techniques”

2. Application - Thin is best!!!

  • SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE the bottle of Shellac
  • With each layer of Shellac, apply it thin.
  • Keep a tiny free margin around the cuticle and sidewall areas.
  • Cap the extension edge with each layer of Shellac

3. Curing

  • Stick with the system - Use the CND UV Lamp
  • Cure each layer
  • Base Coat = 10 sec
  • Color Coat = 2 min
  • Top Coat = 2 min

4. Home Maintenance

  • Solar Oil -Keeps natural nails, nail color and nail enhancements tough and flexible. Use daily!

466 Responses to “Q&A #2 Why are a few of my Shellac clients peeling?”

  1. Jane says:

    Been using CND Shellac since Feb. Great success!!!! Just had a return with 5 week wear time. Favorite layered shade for spring is Hot Pop Pink and Hot Chilis. Enjoying Shellac at Country Cosmo:)

  2. sharon ellis says:

    So far I’m having great success with Shellac…I am doing everything exactly the way the video shows. I’ve even printed the CND directions to go over frequently. I find I’m having these little particle spots (not every nail). I’m worried that this will cause the Shellac to lift. I have a spotless work surface and wipe the mouth of the bottles (I don’t use any cotton or gauze ) I have the clients wash their thoroughly. Please tell me why these particles are showing up. I have gone on line and watched the trouble shooting video and other editorials. Nothing really touches base with what I’m experiencing. Thanks so much.
    Nail Tech at Studio 19 in Mansfield Ohio
    Sharon Ellis PS: I love Shellac :)

  3. Debbie Winston says:

    I have been using Shellac for a few months. When I started using it, I was very happy. However, lately whenever I have it applied, it starts to lift in a few days and chip. What could be causing this?

  4. Michelle says:

    I have been following the steps meticulously, have the proper lamp, and did a Shellac manicure and pedicure on myself. I use Solar Oil daily on nails and toenails. I was in the hot tub and two of the polish layers of my toenails just floated off! Is it the hot water? The chlorine? I was only 4 days out and used Fedora. A friend of mine had it happen 7 days out with Rock Royalty, and I know the mani/pedi was done correctly because I did it, but I can’t testify to her use of Solar Oil. What’s going on here?

    • CND says:


      Shellac is formulated with Acetone Soluble Polymers (tiny tunnels) making it removable in 10 minutes with pure acetone. These tiny tunnels allow the acetone to travel all the way down through the coating and finally down to the base layer where the acetone breaks down the “quick-release” polymers releasing Shellac from the natural nail without the use of files or buffers which can be extremely damaging to the natural nail.

      These tiny tunnels also make Shellac less chemically resistant than gels, liquid & powders or other enhancement products. Thus exposure to household chemicals including chlorine can affect Shellac wear. Clients that regularly swim or soak in Jacuzzis may not experience 14+ day wear with Shellac. However they should experience longer wear with Shellac than polish.

      Thank you

  5. Sharon,
    Are they by chance little bits of cuticle that got left behind? One of my tricks is to do a quick inspection of the nails after ScrubFresh as it will make any cuticle remnants on the nail white so that I can see and remove any I missed.

    Make sure you are not doing any buffing, not soaking in a bowl of acetone to remove, and it is imoprtant that clients are using Solar Oil 2-3 times a day.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  6. amber says:

    I have been having problems with the french staying on, i have done all the steps the right way. Even the other lady in the salon has had the problem with the french. I may have had to customers that the white didnt just chip right off.HELP!

  7. amber says:

    I have also bought two differnt bottles of fendora. Each bottle looks really wavy going on, when u put the top coat on it smooths out. Later that day or the next day if just comes off in a whole. i have tried both bottles on two different girls, same thing happend on both.
    Also guess people or using the drills on people, had a few come in for a new set & while i am doing there nails they seem to think i am doing things wrong.

  8. Pat says:

    I am a client and would like to post a comment. I have worn shellac for 4 months and have had to stop due to peeling and damage to my nails. I have weak nails and ridges from wearing acrylic. I haven’t worn acrylic in 5 years and my nails were better with regular manicures now I am back to the horribly weak nails from right after taking off my acrylic. Any comments?

  9. smm says:

    We are no longer telling clients that their UV polish will last for two weeks, because we have been finding that it doesn’t last that long for all clients. We use two different lines one being Shellac, and are finding that they don’t last that long on every client.

  10. Elisabeth says:

    I would appreciate all suggestions that might make it possible for me to wear Shellac. My cuticles are very dry and my nails are peeling and my manicurist seems to believe that Shellac contributed to the damage of my nail. I think it is more likely that I am particularly sensitive to acetone removal. (I have not been able to find a manicurists who uses the CND “strips”). I use oil regularly but not 3 times a day as Holly suggested above.

  11. Stacie says:

    Shellac is fabulous, a great alternative to acrylics.The answer to polish staying on natural nails,I am having geat results polish saying 3 weeks and longer tripled my clientele!!!

  12. vicki castelli says:

    I have been suing Shellac for several months. Everyone is loving it, untill now. Ever since I purchased a bottle of base I have had nothing but problems. I have been doing redo’s on every client. I know the techniques and the steps to follow. The polish is not sticking to the nail no matter what I do. Is other techs experiencing this? Could it be possible there is a bad batch of base out there?

  13. Amber,
    The wrinkling tends to be from a too thick application, remember nice thin layers. Also be sure the Fedora is well shaken. CND does not recommend the use of an electric file on Shellac, it is meant to help get away from filing and be easier for the nail professional and on the nails. The white needs to be shaken and applied thin as well, see if this video would be of any help to you:

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  14. Pat,
    If Shellac is applied and removed properly, the user uses Solar Oil 2-3 times daily, and the nails are taken care of, the nails should be in good shape. If you are naturally prone to dryness, Shellac may be a special occasion option vs a full time one.

    I tend to tell clients that it can last up to two weeks with proper home maintenance.

    Soaking in a bowl of acetone can help the nails dry out much faster. Try showing your manicurist that you can be diligent with your Solar oil, it will be noticeable in the condition of your nails and skin. Request not to be removed via a bowl of acetone and no buffing of the nail service is needed either.

    Congrats and best wishes of continued success!

    Please call the hotline to check into that 800-833-NAIL.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  15. Kelly says:

    My clients are using Solar Oil daily, they don’t have peeling nails or ski jump nails. Could the peeling be caused by a bad batch of base coat? I had two more clients come in today with peeling Shellac and there manicures were completed last week. Both of my clients have had more than 18 Shellac manicures completed. I don’t know what to do because I’m following all of the steps and my clients are unhappy that their Shellac manicures aren’t lasting 14 days.

    Can you please advise me on these issues at your earliest convenience?

    Thank you,

  16. amber says:

    i have been wearing the shellac for about 4 mo & love it!! i do hair & nails & the polish has held up!! i also have clients that are doctors & nurses, they love it too!! one of them the polish last for weeks!!! the new growth didnt look to great, i think it depends on the person if last or not.

  17. donna angle says:

    i did shellac on a ladys feet and hands, but her shellac still is comming off her hands. the shellac i put on her feet is still on there it has been 4 weeks. i don’t understand why it is peeling off her finger nails.

  18. donna angle says:

    what chemicals will cause shellac to peel

  19. Kelly,
    How is your bulb life in your lamp? Are they keeping their fingers straight out and not bending the tips down blocking them from being cured?

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  20. Nail Girl says:

    We experienced some similar issues. Are all of your client’s nails or only certain ones? we finally realized that a lot of the client’s that were coming back were all peeling on their middle and ring fingers, and discovered that a bulb was out in one of our lamps. There are 4 bulbs, so it puts out a lot of light and when one goes out you may not notice. We check them daily now.

  21. Missie says:

    I have had good luck with all of the shellac colors except the French. Everyone I have used it on has peeled off within days. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Maybe the white is too thick, but very hard to get thin and even looking. Any suggestions.

  22. Robin says:

    Holly – regarding your response to Elisabeth (I have the same problem she does and have stopped using Shellac) – how should the Shellac removed if not by soaking in acetone?

  23. May says:

    I have been using shellac for almost 7 months non stop but my nails still peel of after 6 days!!!!!!. I have tried EVERTHING!! regarding troubleshooting, (although I must say….. you almost need a degree to do it properly!!!! Mama mia!!! It has taking me ages to do it correctly!!!!…..)
    I have come to the conclusion that maybe that my nais are too soft for shellac. I use solar oil 4-5 times a day for the past 5 months…could you please recommend me anything to make my nails stronger? Maybe some vitamins ?
    If nothing helps and I keep using pure acetone every 6 days (instead of every 14 days,) will so much acetone damage my skin or nails even more? We all know how bad acetone is .

    Please advice , as I will like to carry on using shellac ….even though I will NEVER managed day 7 !!!!!

  24. May says:

    Hi Missie

    I had problems with french before and since I cut the brosh in half (same lenght but thiner) it works a lot better to aproche thiner leyers, specially with short nails. Please note the this is only a tip that has worked for me, and it is only a suggestion.

    Good luck

  25. Debbie says:

    I am really upset by the damage done by the shellac. After four manicures (once every two weeks), my nails started to show serious problems: white spots, ridges, extreme brittleness, breaking off below the quick line. It’s been more than two months since I last had a manicure using shellac and my nails are still in horrible condition. This, I might add, despite daily applications of cuticle oil throughout the whole process.

  26. Lee says:

    I had these done today! they look fabulous and i will definitley be getting more. The only down side to my nail job was that the gel on my thumbs ran to one side when i put my hand under the UV lamp which made my nail have a big lump on the sides. Does anyone know how to prevent that happening next time? should i tell the tech to apply the gel thinner? Other then that, the rest of my fingers look absolutely awesome!

  27. Donna,
    Are you getting all the cuticle off the nails? Is the base coat applied thin and neat? Are you keeping all Shellac off the skin? Is every single edge sealed with top coat or are you seeing color on the pad when you remove the tacky layer? Prolonged exposure to any chemical will cause peeling, gloves should be worn.

    Do you shake the white well to be sure it is mixed? Here are some additional tips for white application:

    You do use acetone to remove it, just preferably not via a bowl. Wrapping it for 10 minutes is ideal and limits the acetone exposure. Here is a video of removal on a long time Shellac client if that would help you any:

    As a nail professional, analyze your natural nail condition and your activities. If you were your own client would you suggest Shellac or an enhancement?

    Make sure there is no buffing on the nails and that you do not pick them at all.

    If applied thin, it should not be running to the side.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  28. Lynn says:

    It had taken 2 years for my nails to get healthy after I quit the acrylic nails ( only wore them for 9 mo). I tried the shellac nail color only twice. My nails are a mess…splitting badly…very dry cuticles.
    The nail salon I go to is one of the cleanest and most contentious I have ever seen. I am sure they applied the product properly from what I have read about the process.
    Soaking in the acetone probably caused the problem. Now I am struggling just to get just a little growth. It actually started burning one of my nails. It remained tender for several days.

    Using Solar Oil, Mane’nTail and Nail Tek XTRA. I am very disappointed at having to go through this process again..

  29. Nina says:

    I have recently started using shellac and am very disappointed at the number of clients who have returned with peeling at the free edge. I have the cnd lamp from new and have followed the steps meticulously. I have had to refund or re-do for free. Having read the blog on peeling I see many of us are experiencing this problem but cannot see a good detailed reply from cnd. Could you please explain why this is happening. Also my top coat,from new, is so thick and gloopy it’s really hard to apply and thus difficult to cap the free edge so maybe that’s a reason? Thanks for your help.

  30. Lynn, if the nails were buffed or soaked in a bowl, that can lead to issues.

    Nina, If you have the new lamp have you peeled ALL the blue film out of the inside? Have you checked to be sure all 4 bulbs light up. If your top is thickening quickly, do you use a table lamp and if so is it so near the hands it could be causing the Shellac to thicken while you work? Here is a troubleshooting video that may help with several different issues:

    Please let me know if you have more questions after!
    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

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