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. Beth says:

    We have just started using Shellac at our salon and are getting some complaints. I do think we could be applying too thick but I am also concerned about the bubbling I have seen. I am wondering what may be causing this. I think it is in the top coat. Shorter nails seem to be having more chipping than long ones. I explained they need to give it a couple of times to get the free edge out for proper coverage. Any more advice about what to do with these clients that really want to grow their nails? I really love this product if we can get over these glitches. I can finally wear polish! Thanks!

    • CND says:


      It sounds as if thickness is probably the challenge. All layers need to be applied thinly. A good gauge of thinness is…when applying Fedora the first layer should appear semi-transparent. As for the shorter nails chipping more than longer, it’s probably an issue of not capping the extension edge thoroughly as it is more difficult. Pay special attention to the edges on shorter nails.

      Thank you

  2. Lynn says:

    I Love Shellac, only had problem with one customer, the Shellac peels after about a week. The customer is still very happy because she states that she is sure the peeling after a week is due to her medication. She has always had problems with polish peeling after a few days but now shellac gives her a least a week. It works about a month for me. We both love Shellac.

  3. Vickie Auman says:

    Mini manicure? No finger soaking with water? I do have some peeling and I try to troubleshoot myself. I believe the white spot on the nails is from the removel process because acetone is very very drying. I would like to be able to put oil on them. Then remove with scrub fresh but will that affect the way the Shellac will hold up? If you do a mini manicure should they wash there hands before you use Shellac to remove any left over product such as oil or cuticle remover? Or use scrub fresh? Lucky for me my clients are very cool about the product and are just as patient as I am with the product. I tell them they are my Guinea pigs and they are cool with it. So they don’t mind when things happen because they know I’m new with Shellac. I have done acrylic nails for 23 years. I want Shellac to work so I am trudging along because I know this product works. I’ve seen it on me and other people. So any tips are great. I have sealed edges, used a dryer brush, shaking I have done but I guess I need to shake more. I guess I need to keep in my head “thin you win” lol! I hope to have this product licked soon. Peeling off in sheets not sure why. I have learned to keep away from cuticle and make sure its not on the skin. Would love to see an educator apply it but I don’t think there is anyone in our area.

    • CND says:


      Thank you for your questions. We do not recommend using oil prior to Shellac application as it can inhibit the wearability of Shellac. Use Cuticle Away or Cuticle Eraser to remove any cuticle (non-living tissue) on the nail plate. Rinse away any residue with a water bottle and manicure brush or by having the client wash their hands. If you choose to do any type of Spa Manicure service with exfoliation, massage and masque, it is recommended to perform this type of service after the Shellac Application. Click here for the Shellac Step-by-Step.
      This will help greatly with your peeling, and you are correct…. “thin to win”.

      You can find a list of Education Ambassadors in your area by logging into, click on Education then Education ambassadors.

      You can also reach our hotline directly by dialing 800-833-NAIL (6245)
      Thank you

  4. Dianne keophommavong says:

    Can any UV lamp be used for curing???

  5. Dianne,
    For the best results a CND lamp is suggested, but don’t take my word for it! Here are other techs that saw the difference:

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  6. Amy b says:

    When I am doing the French colors the white wants to “run” away from the tips. It is fine before it goes under the light and when it comes out is when I see this problem?? What am I doing wrong?

  7. Amy,
    Are the clients bumping the nails on the back of the lamp? Are you sealing the free edge with the white? Are you using a CND lamp?

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  8. Arlene says:

    What will happen if you use a different uv lamp but the bulbs have the same voltage of the cnd lamp?

  9. zebra says:

    Been doing nails since classes, think all should always educate learn from sites like this, however, something is not quite right with the shellac system…products do not work well on everyone. I see too many issues here and dont understand them. I do acrylics, gels, love natural manicures, but this product is frustrating and kind of embarrassing to me. Too many issues!!

  10. Nancy B says:

    after every layer has been cured I wipe the nail with 99% alcohol and the color on the edges comes off. Any suggestions?

  11. Arlene,
    I think you will find this helpful:

    My experience so far has been that if there are problems with Shellac on most clients that the issue is in the process somewhere. It can be anything from a bulb not pushed in all the way, the wrong lamp being used, to deviation from the step by steps. I would love to troubleshoot with you if you would like to give me an indication of the troubles you sre having.

    That tends to mean the edges are not sealed with topcoat, you may find this video helpful:

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  12. Debbie Ostrander says:

    Hi. I have noticed little bubbles after curing sometimes or while applying topcoat. Is the error me or is it maybe the age of topcoat. Please let me know. Other than that I love love love Shellac! Thank you CND!

    • CND says:


      When you apply the Shellac Top Coat slow down a little, use long strokes and fluid movements. If you apply quickly, air bubbles can get trapped in the brush and the top coat. Also make sure you are using 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. Using less than 99% can cause pitting in the Shellac top coat. Hope this helps.

      Thank you

  13. Tricia says:

    I was wondering if any one has experienced the entire product wiping off when rubbing with the Alcohol at the end. I had this happen to a client of mine. Could the polish have gone bad? I had a similar experience doing my own nails…but only on one nail. Oddly enough it was the finger with a ring on. Could wearing rings inside the uv lamp cause this? Looking back the client who had the same problem had rings on as well.

  14. Leah says:

    I have tried two different nail salons and had the Shellac put on. Within a few days they started to lift and peel. Both places with the same problem. What can I tell them to do besides thinner coats. FYI (I have shorter nails and they break easy due to cooking and cleaning).

  15. Deena Means says:

    I was wondering if using 70% alcohol vs 99% alcohol would make a difference when wiping the nails after the topcoat has cured? I am getting alittle color residue when I wipe them. Also would it make a difference to cure the basecoat for longer than 10 seconds as far as chipping or peeling.

    • CND says:


      Using less than 99% Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) will cause dulling of the surface, tackiness and can cause surface pitting.
      If you are seeing residue on your lint free pad after wiping with IPA: Check to make sure you have completely encased the Shellac Color Coat with Shellac Top Coat. Check sidewalls especially. If you haven’t completely covered with Top coat you will potentially see color residue.
      Curing the base coat longer than 10sec will not affect chipping or peeling and it may slow down removal time.
      Let us know if this helps.


  16. Deanna says:

    I have had Shellac applied several times and have severe issues with peeling. My nail artist is doing everything she should and I am applying & massaging Solar Oil in 2x/day. My nails look great for the first week and then they peel off in sheets. Especially after I have been doing dishes. I am noticing I have some ridges and it looks like a few of nails want to peel. I love the Shellac and want to keep using it. Help!

  17. Gemma says:

    Can (thyroxin) medication for underactive thyroid affect the longevity of Shellac. I found that it peels off the whole nail in one after 4 days and my clients Shellac stay on.

    • CND says:


      Medications may or may not effect the performance of any nail coatings. Unfortunately, CND has not tested the impact of medications on Shellac performance at this time. Please consult with your doctor.

      Thank you

  18. Teresa Nelson says:

    A client complained of flaking of the nail plate from the cuticle to the free edge. Is anyone complaining of damage to the nail plate?

  19. Tricia,
    It actually sounds like the Shellac did not get a good cure. If you are using a CND lamp, check inside to be sure all the bulbs actually light up and if not push them in nice and tight.

    Are you using Solar Oil 2-3 times a day? Do you wear gloves when in water and other chemicals while cleaning? If your natural nails are weak that can make it more difficult to get a full 14 day wear from the Shellac. Working with your nail professional to pinpoint the problem should help.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  20. mae says:

    Is the top coat always thicker than the other colors? I bought a second bottle shortly after the first and they both seem a little thick. I do all the proper steps ?

  21. Sheila says:

    Can I thin the Shellac colors when they get too thick?

  22. Mae, it can seem a little thicker than the colors. When you first get it shake it really well to be sure the chemicals are well ,mixed then be sure to keep the lid closed tightly and store at room temperature.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  23. Meg says:

    when I start apply the base coat, it starts to pit and then I know it wont work because all the other coats shrink. This has only happened to 2 people. Any ideas why? Medicine?

  24. ella blaker says:

    hi, i use shellac and on my customers with strong healthy nails it will always last the 2-3 weeks it should and then still isn’t chipped just bad regrowth visible. I have only had a problem with a client who had weak and brittle nails but she knew they may not last quite as long. last week I had a friend book for the shellac as she had the treatment elsewhere and loved it, she has strong large nails which are easy to work on and she had barely any cuticle as she has regular manicures but with my shellac application it chipped in several places. I just don’t know what I did wrong? she uses oil but not solar, same as her previous shellac but other then that i use all correct equipment and products and cap free edge, keep thin layers??? please help!!! thankyou

  25. Anna says:

    Ok, I am shaking the heck out of these bottles and thoroughly applying scrub fresh over the entire nail and free edge. For some reason it seems the shellac is shrinking, especially from the tip of the nail. Any suggestions? Also, my main concern is that my clients are begining to really experience some dryness of the natural nail when the product is off. I am well aware of the importance of Solar Oil and have really been pushing it with my clients. I love the concept of Shellac and really want to perfect my process, however if I find that it is damaging to the natural nail I know I will stray from pushing the service. Please help!

  26. Meg, that can be a couple things in my experience, one is some oil remaining on the nail plate and the other is that the base coat needs shaken to mix it up.

    Ella, did she have problems on specific fingers or all? Did you get all the edges sealed with top coat or was there color on the pad when you wiped off with alcohol?

    Anna, when you ScrubFresh do you pull the lateral folds back and really scrub the nail as if you were trying to remove red polish? I have found that letting clients whose nails are more prone to dryness know they will have to take breaks and wear regular polish really gets them using the Solar Oil and keeping the nails hydrated so they don’t have to break from Shellac ;)

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  27. Holly says:

    For several years I had IBD gels on my nails. All at once I developed an allergy to the gels and had to discontinue. The allergy was itching, redness, swelling, and peeling. I loved having my nails done and am considering trying shellac, but I am concerned that I will be allergic to this as well. Has there been reports of allergies from you product?

  28. Sheila,
    The key is to keep them from getting thick; store at room temp, keep the lids on tight, keep out of path of the UV light while working. Try shaking to thoroughly mix the gel and polish back together.

    Hope that helps!
    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  29. slavka says:

    I got a Shellac mother- daughter manicure with my five year old. Her polish peeled off one nail the first night, two more nails the next day, by day three she had only three nails with the shellac still on (tutti fruitti layered with mother of pearl). The nail tech thought it might have been from the glitter in the mother of pearl so she redid the nails with just tutti frutti and the next day two peeled off again. Why is this happening? I only notice the missing polish after a bath or swim but can’t confirm that the polish is lost during those times.

  30. carol trouten says:

    i currently use gelousy gel and conventional colored gel my clients are starting to ask about shellac i would like to offer it but do not know how to offer it to my clients who need the strengh of the gel thtat i currently am using onthem please help im confused on how to use the gel i use and offer them the shellac any info would be of great help

  31. Corrin says:

    Can a natural nail strengthener of any kind be used on top of Shellac? I’m wondering if the strengthener will be as effective as it would be on top of regular enamel. Thanks in advance.

  32. Lindsay says:

    I have had shellac done many times already. No matter what color I have done (layering or just one color), it peels within days of being done. I have not had a shellac manicure last more than a week, before it easily peeling off. I watch carefully as they do my manicure, and I am not sure if they are doing something wrong in the process. It seems as though there is not a good connection between my nail and the base coat, that is causing the easy peeling. The entire manicure is easily peeled off each of my nails, in 2 or 3 full pieces (showing no evidence on my nail, that anything was even supposed to be on them). What is going wrong with my shellac manicure?

  33. gloria says:

    I am having an issue with my nails breaking since I started using your shellac. I use the solar oil 2-3x a day. What can I do because the breaks are very painful. oops just had another crack. please help

  34. Betty says:

    Can you fix a chip without taking off all of the shellac,
    and the shellac is so thick, can you set it in hot water,before you use it.

  35. Slavka,
    My experience in the salon has been that Shellac is not ideal for use on children, their activities such as lengthy baths, swimming and play are not conducive to 14 day wear. Shellac lasts longer on them than polish, but not as long as on an adult!

    Carol, Shellac is a power polish, you can use it in any way you would normally use polish, after your enhancement application, apply the Shellac minus the base coat! Full detailed instructions are on just log in and click tools and support.

    It would not be as effective over the Shellac, If you need a little more strength add an extra layer of color or top coat just make sure to keep all layers very thin.

    Are the salons you visit using a CND lamp? Can they show you the CND or Creative logo on it? That sounds like possible under-curing, if they are using a CND lamp, the lamp itself may need some trouble shooting.

    How are your nails usually removed and are they being buffed or filed on top?

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  36. gloria says:

    my nails are removed using 100% acetone and pads. They are not buffed or filed on top. They break where the nail tip meet the nail bed then i have to cut the all down so that my hands don’t look stupid. Also my nails are not long so that would not be the challenge

  37. Kim S says:

    I have been using Shellac for a couple months now and have no problems with any of my clients, except the ones that have their hands in water a lot through out the day. Their nails usually chip in about a week. Is there anything special that I need to be doing with those clients? Thanks

  38. Anna says:

    I mentioned above that I am having problems with the Shellac shrinking. I have really focused on making sure I completely cleanse the nail with Scrub Fresh and make sure that I get good coverage with the base coat. That seems to be taking care of the shrinking around most of the nail, but the nail tips are still giving me trouble. I am very particular about capping the free edge with each coat and go over the edge and underneath with the Scrub Fresh. Help!

  39. JACKIE STEINER says:

    Can you fix a chip without taking off all of the shellac? I went on vacation after getting my (hands and toes) nails done “the shellack” way for the first time. My toes still look great after two weeks but my hands peeled bad after a few day so I used regular polish to touch up the shellack…BIG mistake because this made matters worse. How can someone touch up shellack polish? THANKS!

  40. Kim S says:

    More from the previous question above. I might add that her nails are literally paper thin. Thanks again

  41. Betty,
    I have seen other techs mention that they have success with buffing the chipped area smooth then applying color to that area only then top coat to the entire nail. Warm water may work, just be careful as if you get the Shellac too warm the solvents escape faster which causes thickening. Be sure you are not working directly under a table lamp that is close to the nails or in the path of the UV light.

    Be sure to massage the Solar Oil in when you use it. What type of activities do you do? Are your nails exposed to water or cleaning chemicals?

    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 constant exposure to water 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.

    With the addition of the paper thin comment, she may not be an ideal candidate for Shellac. Think about a big car wash sponge and a thin little dish washing sponge. If you give each of them a half cup of water, the dish washing sponge will swell while the car washing sponge is thick enough that it will not swell with that amount of water. So if she is constantly exposing her nails to water and they are thin, they are doing a lot of swell and shrink, Shellac nor polish can keep up with that frequent change in size!

    Is your Shellac color well mixed? Do you notice the color is not on the tips right after it cures or at the end when you are finished with application? Are you a slow polisher? I’m pretty particular and sometimes if I’m really having to work at getting a color to lay just right on a problem nail I notice the first two I did need the end re-sealed before going in the lamp.

    The nails should not have peeled so quickly, touch ups may be something for the salon to do depending on why they chipped.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  42. Kristy says:

    We have been noticing that our natural nails are breaking, peeling and splitting. All of us in the salon have been using shellac for a few months. Does shellac dry out the nail plate and cause this to happen? We use solar oil at the application, do we need to continually reapply it? Why is this happening?

  43. Kim S says:


    I have this problem with the top coat. One trick that I do, instead of putting it in warm water, I just set the bottle under my leg and that seems to help. I know that some of my other nail tech friends so the same. Hope this helps!!

  44. Sandra says:

    Where do you buy 99% Isopropyl alcohol ? Beauty supply only has something from OPI that is 99%. No where in my area carrys it. Purespa online doesn’t either.

  45. w.smith says:

    I’m having problems with peeling and chipping after less than a week. I’ve been doing the the steps and i’m still having problems. Can the nail condition be the problem? I have some clients that the shellac stays on for weeks. Please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. Lisa says:

    I was so excited when the salon had told me the polish would be guarantee to last for 2 weeks. I had the Shellac applied on a Monday and by Wednesday one of my nails had cracking and on Thursday I already had one of the nails peel off and it was not the one that had cracked. Soon after that a few more had started to peel. Needless to say, they did not last until my next scheduled 2 week appt.
    I did like the fact that they dryed in no time flat and did not have to worry about grabbing my keys or opening the truck door and smudging the polish like I have had with acrylic and gel nails. The shine was just beautiful and the hardness it gave my nails was nice also even though I did have a nail break off while I had the polish on.
    I did like the fact that when the polish was removed I did not have to have my nail dug into and cut off like with acrylic and gel which ruined my nail horribly.
    I do wish the polish would of lasted longed and not cracked and peeled.

    Thank you,


  47. Kim,
    Thanks for the suggestion, just be careful not to over warm the Shellac as this allows the solvents to escape faster which causes the Shellac to be thicker.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  48. Kristy,
    You need to apply the Solar Oil 2-3 times a day. Imagine what your hair would look like if you did not condition it in between color services! You wash your hands several times a day so applying 2-3 is not unreasonable when you consider most people condition their hair every time they wash it. Nails and hair are both made of Keratin.

    A lot of pharmacies will order it for you, some distributors that offer it are Industry Source and

    Nail condition is a consideration. Are you using a CND lamp, are your layers thin? Here is a troubleshooting video you may find helpful:

    If you had cracking and peeling, there was a reason! Have you talked to the salon about it to do some troubleshooting?

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  49. Kelly says:

    I have two clients that have Shellac services performed and after a couple of days their Shellac starts peeling off. I follow every step that’s required for a successful manicure and I’m not sure why this is happening. I complete 25-30 Shellac services a week and I’m not sure what to do. Thank you for your help.

    Thank you,

    • CND says:


      Are they using Solar Oil? Do their natural nail peel? Are they a ski jump nail?

      Thank you

  50. Tammy says:

    Was wondering if anyone is having trouble with the color Iced Cappuccino. It is the only color that I am having trouble with. Have tried new bottles only to have the same results, peeling off same day or next day. Any suggestions?

    • CND says:


      This is not an issue that CND is aware of. Iced Cappucino due to the frost can sometimes be applied a little thick. Any chance of this?

      Thank you

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