Shellac Step-by-Step

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158 Responses to “Shellac Step-by-Step”

  1. Jodi says:

    Can I apply self-stick nail art with shellac? Maybe before the top coat? Also, if a client has a break very far down, what can be applied before the Shellac application to secure the break? ie: 5 second nail glue?

    • CND says:


      We recommend you follow the Shellac Step-by-Steps through topcoat application then proceed with your nail art. We have not tested using self-stick nail art with topcoat. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you.

      Adhesives (glue) are water soluble and tend to break down quite easily. You may get a few days out of it.

      Thank you

  2. Ana says:

    hi, i am 7 months pregnant and i used your products and the uv lamp, is that damage for my baby?

    • CND says:


      Shellac products have shown no problems with pregnancy. UV light exposure during a Shellac application is approximately the same amount of UV exposure as walking from you house to your car. Of course we suggest you have your client’s consult with your doctor prior.

      Thank you,

  3. Jodi-
    I’ve been reading where some nail techs have had success with laying down a piece of fiberglass to repair a nail then applying the base coat over it and curing. If you are interested in giving that a try it may hold up better than just using adhesive.

    Let me know how it goes :o)
    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  4. allison h says:

    we have just started using shellac but have a few older clients that it doesnt seem to be working for i pride myself on the fact im a hairdresser and my hands are in water a lot and using shellac works well for me but i dont know wht the clients are doing but the shellac comes off in a whole oner !why would this happen the gilrs follow the step by step instructions ans were all baffled !!! pls help us ???

  5. Allison,
    Do you by chance buff the nails prior to application? What condition are the nails in? Do the clients use Solar Oil faithfully? How often? How do you do the cuticle work? Do the clients get their hands all the way in the lamp? Is it peeling on a specific finger(s)?

    Let me know :)
    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  6. jeanette says:

    I am interested in doing shellac nails where do i go for training?

  7. Another French question, a client coming for her second French Shellac said it pushed back from the tip of her finger and yellowed a bit. Don’t know if this is an issue of applying too thickly. Has anyone had a similar issue? Thanks!

    • CND says:


      It could have been a thick application. It also could have been due to some sort of chemical exposure.

      Shellac is formulated with Acetone Soluble Polymers (tiny tunnels) making it removable in 10 minutes. These tiny tunnels also make Shellac less chemically resistant than gels, liquid & powders or other enhancement products. Thus some pigments in Shellac can be easily attacked by chemical exposure during daily activity such as bathing, house cleaning, laundry, gardening, car washing, swimming, etc. Sun light exposure can also make colors fade faster. Heat and humidity have much less effect on fading, but can accelerate fading when combined with chemical or sunlight exposure.

      Shellac should not limit daily activity, however to minimize fading and maximize long-term wear of Shellac please follow the following guidelines:

      • Recommend clients wear gloves when they work with household products that contain solvents and/or strong oxidizing agents (such as chlorine, bleach and strong detergents)

      • Minimize the time in swimming pools (which water contains chlorine) and public jacuzzi (which contains even more chlorine and high temperature)

      • Minimize sun light exposures, especially right after spending time in swimming pools.

      • Choose hand lotions carefully. Stay away from lotions that include strong active ingredients such as tanning lotions and skin bleaching lotions. Mild lotions such as baby lotions are good choices.

      Thank you,

  8. Vanessa says:

    hi i have a question about the Shellac, it seems to me that everytime i go to apply shellac i get almost like a resistance from the product, im wondering if its the base coat because as soon as i put the colour on it shrinks towards the center of the nail and then i have to sit there and keep working the product until i get it to a point where it stays long enough for me to get it in the lamp and i am putting it on as thin as i can. Any reason why this is happening?

  9. Ashley says:

    I have a client who always gets a paraffin dip during her services. She decided she wants shellac her next service and i wanted to make sure i can dip her after i apply her shellac or if i should hold off on paraffin altogether. Thank you.

  10. Do you shake your base coat before application? Do you soak, oil, or lotion the nails before Shellac application? Does the cuticle remover you use have oil in it? Are you buffing the nails to a shine before application? Let me know and we can go from there :o)

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  11. Vanessa says:

    yes to all of the above except i don’t use a cuticle remover, but after all those steps i always make sure to clean the nail plate very well with polish remover and with residure remover before application…

  12. Vanessa-
    Do not soak, oil, or lotion before Shellac application. Soaking in water is actually damaging to the nails, have you ever seen Doug Schoon’s Brain? It is open to view completely free for the month of December –
    If you view at least image 3-7 you will see microscopically what soaking can do to the nails!
    If you want to oil, lotion, etc. do it after the Shellac application. Solar Oil penetrates the Shellac when use regularly. You do not need to clean the nails with polish remover, I would suggest ScrubFresh as it is a natural nail cleanser, temporarily dehydrates, and leaves behind germ fighting pathogens. Be sure to scrub the nail with ScrubFresh as if you were removing red polish! Let me know if you see a difference and how you liked Doug’s Brain :)

    You can dip her AFTER Shellac application and it will be just fine :o) Make sure you get all of your edges sealed with top coat!

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  13. Vanessa says:

    so then how do you suggest i perform a manicure before Shellac if i can’t soak oil or lotion the nails first? Soaking is how I soften cuticle in order to do my prep work for the Shellac?

  14. Vanessa,
    Using Cuiticle Away will soften and remove the cuticle from the nail plate. If you feel someone has excess or difficult cuticle, then apply the Cuticle Away, do your shaping, then come back to do the cuticle work. You can use lotions, scrubs, etc after the Shellac application is complete. If you want to watch the begining of this video it may help explain the Cuticle Away process:

    Hope that helps!
    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  15. Shauna says:

    I have read other statements on this problem and I am having the same issue. Some of my clients natural nails are becoming yellow after continued use of the shellac. It is becoming very noticable through the finish of the french product. It is the same with clients who use the color but it is not noticed through the finish once it is covered over again. I don’t know how to correct this problem if it is something I’m doing or is this a problem just from keeping them smothered from the product? My other question is that it says not to soak the nails in a bowl of acetone for removal of the product. To simply soak the product off with an acetone saturated cotton ball on the nail. What is the outcome difference in the 2 methods? What makes one better or worse than the other?

  16. Dena says:

    I’ve been doing Shellac Nails for about 6 months now. I love the product and my nail salon is a natural nail care salon. I do not do any acryllics or gels. I am building a really nice clientele of lady’s who love this product. I do give a quick water manicure before I apply the product and have not seen any bad results from doing so. However they are not soaking it’s more like dippiing just enough to clean the cuticle. I also will buff lightly with a fine buffer and solar oil. I will then use the scrub fresh to make sure the nail is free of all debri. So far so good. I am going to try more of a dry method just to see how it goes. Thanks for the product! I can’t wait for new colors!

  17. Shauna,
    The yellowing of the natural nail is not something I have heard yet, is it on all clients, a few? What do they do lifestyle wise? What are your steps for application including any products you use? What lamp are you using?
    The difference in using the bowl vs the wraps or the cotton foil method is the amount of acetone the nails absorb. Less liquid absorbed into the nail = less dehydration.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  18. styles says:


  19. styles says:


  20. is n.a.s 99 the same as 99% alachol

  21. Mary Anne Collura says:

    Some of the colors are having a rippling effect when i take their hand out of the dryer Is it the fan that is doing it? Is anyone else having this problem?

  22. Mary Anne Collura says:

    I only see the yellowing on clients that wait longer then 2 weeks.

  23. Jessica,
    It is my understanding that it is. Purchasing Alcohol labeled as 99% Isopropyl Alcohol tends ot lower the cost per service.

    Mary Anne,
    The rippled effect tends to be from a thick application, make sure those layers are nice and thin, also be sure the Shellac has been shaken. On the clients that yellow, are they using products at home that could be causing the discoloration?

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  24. Natesha H says:

    I’ve had what looks like bubbles form a couple of times during the curing prossess. Do you know what could cause this? I’m scrubbing with scrub fresh before each application and it seems to flatten itself out eventually but on clients I woud need to redo that particular nail. Any idea what it is?

  25. Natesha,
    It can be from a thick application, be sure each layer is nice and thin. Another cause could be a cuticle remnant or fuzzy, after applying the base coat take a good look over them to check for any bumps!
    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  26. vicki castelli says:

    I was wondering if one coat of color would be sufficent (ex. negliee) for a light sheer tone, or is there a problem with the product not being stable enough. Also if my client just wanted clear. Would I apply base, and 2-3 coats of top? Is it ok to do multiple layers of top?

  27. Cathy says:

    will swimming in a chlorine pool affect shellac nails?

  28. Vicki-
    You can do just one layer of negligee as well as just base and top. If you feel they need it two top coat layers are fine as well.

    It varies from client to client, 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.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  29. Cassie-
    A full cost per service guide is available at just log in for pro information. The color and top coats are 20 services per bottle and the base coat 35.

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  30. Julianna says:

    I prefer a softer look to my french manicure and was wondering if the new shade of “clearly pink” would be a good option? Also is there a color that you could recommend that is softer than “cream puff”? Thank you for your time.

  31. I just took a Shellac class in Dayton.. The step to remove sticky is to use 99% alcohol… Can not find above 91% anywhere..Have called ALL medical supplies here and checked EVERY drug store…Why make a product that we can not get all of the product to do the service and even you do not sell it in our supply stores??? HELP… Thank you

  32. Julianna, the Clearly Pink would definitely be an option it is like sheer lipgloss for your nails. There is not a softer white at this time, layering something like Negligee or Clearly Pink over it helps soften it slightly.

    Susan, and Industry Source are a couple options of distributors that offer it. When you checked with pharmacies did you ask if they would be willing to order it for you?

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  33. Kathy says:

    Is there a nail strengthening product of any kind on the market that can be applied before/under Shellac without affecting how the Shellac wears? Perhaps something that functions not like a base coat but rather something that will soak into the nail and harden it? Thanks.

    • CND says:


      There isn’t a product that you can apply underneath Shellac to “strengthen” the natural nail. However with regular use of Solar OIl… it will penetrate through the Shellac and into the natural nail. Replenishing oils and maintaining flexibility. Recommend your clients use Solar Oil a minimum of 2x’s per day.

      Thank you

  34. Kee ling says:

    Am I able to use the curing lamps I have? does it only cure with cnd lamps? I find the base coat and the coats there after are a bit sticky.

    • CND says:

      Kee Ling,

      CND recommends using the CND UV lamp or the CND Brisa UV Lamp for full cure and exceptional wearability. We do not guarantee Shellac with any other lamp on the market.

      Thank you

  35. I used the New Shellac on my sister on both her hands and feet before taking her kids to a water park for the weekend. There was no chips or wear, still mirror shine!!! She loves the new product and who better to test on than family!. I do have a question, do you recommend it for use on kids?

    • CND says:


      We do not test our products on children and therefore cannot recommend a service for anyone under 18.

      Thank you

  36. liliane says:

    very new to this product can shellac be applies to acrylic? and also tips as most of my clientel want nail extensions.

  37. jenalee says:

    I had a client the other day ask if she could put a regular top coat on after a week or so. What would you recommend? Some clients (not all) and myself are experiencing little cuts on the tips of our fingers after having shellac on or using it, could this be a reaction to the product? Anything I can do to prevent them. Thanks

  38. Jenalee, she could put the top coat on, but why does she need to? The Shellac should be shiny for at least 14 days! Where are the little cuts? Is there any chance you are nicking them with the file when shaping? If not, would you mind sending some photos? holly.schippers at

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  39. Madisen Noel says:

    During the summer, is there anything we can recommend to our clients if they are going to be in swimming pools/hot tubs? We noticed on one client after being in the hot tub on vacation, the negligee on their nails turned yellow. Will all colors change colors in pools or hot tubs, or only the lighter see through colors? A lot of clients want it for hands and feet so we would like to know before the warmer months. Also, if a client is planning on being in and out of swimming pools/hot tubs, is the shellac not recommended at all because it won’t last?

    Thank You, Madisen Noel designer and nail tech.
    Kali Co Court Salon and Spa, Zanesville, Ohio

    Thank You

    • 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.

      We suggest the sue of Solar Oil prior and after exposure.

      Thank you

  40. Heather Fullen says:

    Hi there! Thanks so much for these helpful posts. I haven’t seen anything regarding fixing a chipped Shellac nail. I understand that proper top coat application and curing is probably the culprit, but is there a way to fix the chip without having to remove everything and start fresh? In doing my own nails on Saturday night, I’ve had a corner on 3 different nails chip and it’s only Wednesday. Help? Thanks in advance.

  41. Lorrie Echols says:

    I just started doing the shellac nails and I am having a hard time getting it to dry What am I doing wrong?
    Thank you

  42. Heather,
    If you and your clients are experiencing chipping, be sure to check your lamp and application. I have seen online that other techs are having success with buffing the edges of the chipped area to smooth, scrub with alcohol, apply color to that area, and then top coating the entire nail.

    full detailed step by steps are at that said, are you putting each layer of Shellac in a CND UV lamp and curing, then removing the tacky layer with 99% isopropyl alcohol after curing the top coat?

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  43. Nan says:

    I have a client with ridges in her nails. Do you have any suggestions to fill these before applying the Shellac? Would an extra top coat make a difference in the deep ridges that appear after the process is complete?

  44. Nan,
    the top coat does do a great job with filling in the ridges, have you applied to her before and still been able to see the ridging?

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  45. Danielle says:

    hi! I LOVE SHELLAC!! i just went to the chicago beauty show this past weekend and attended your class! i would like to know though, where can i find more shellac “nail art” tips? it says in your book to go to but cant find it anywhere? please help :) thank!!!!

  46. Renee Gorski says:

    I have found that the 91 percent alcohol works great, give it a try…
    I love this product, good luck to all.’)

  47. Danielle,
    I can not find them either let me see what I can find out!!

    Holly L Schippers
    CND Education Ambassador

  48. Gg heyman says:

    Where can I find CND manicure in Rifle CO?

  49. Michelle says:

    Does anyone know if the Shellac top coat can be thinned out some how? I’m only getting 10-12 uses out of a bottle. It thickens up so bad I can’t use it. Anyone else having that issue?

    • CND says:


      Each color of Shellac is specifically formulated to apply smoothly, cure completely, wear for 14 days and remove in 10 minutes. In order to achieve all of these goals, each color has a different formula that is made up of its own unique blend of many different materials, including up to four different solvents. As you apply Shellac, those solvents will begin to evaporate off, which is why over time, you may notice that your Shellac begins to feel thicker during application. We have formulated each color with this in mind, so even if it does feel a little thicker it will still cure, wear, and remove as it is intended. However, there are practices that will speed up the evaporation of these solvents and can cause faster thickening of Shellac.

      While there is no good way to thin Shellac, we do have tips to keep your Shellac in ideal condition:
      • Shake the bottle thoroughly before each use.
      • Close the cap firmly when not in use. This will prevent solvent from evaporating when in between services
      • Replace the cap any time you are not actually applying the product. This limits evaporation as well as exposure to light which can begin the curing process
      • Do not expose the bottle to light without the cap firmly in place. This can begin the curing process
      • Only use Shellac when the bottle is at room temperature. This will insure good consistency for application and eliminate fast evaporation of the solvents.
      If you follow these tips, you should be able to use your Shellac safely and effectively.

      Thank you

  50. Abby says:

    I am wondering if I could have received a bad top coat or if I am doing something wrong. Everything hardens well except that the top coat will not harden at all. On my own nails I had to resort to using my normal top coat. I haven’t been able to use on clients yet because I can’t seem to get it right. I am following the step by step guide.

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