Gel vs Shellac nails – what’s the difference

Whether it’s a manicure or pedicure you’re after, there are many different options available to make sure you are perfectly polished on both fingers and toes. Gone are the days when nail polish only looked good for a couple of days before it started to chip, now you can have pristine nails for weeks at a time but it can be a minefield deciding which products are right for you. However, you may be wondering what the difference is between gel and Shellac nails, so here they are explained.

Gel vs Shellac Nails – the product and formulation difference

gel nails at home

Shellac is a brand in its own right created by the company CND and it has continued to revolutionise the nail industry since it began 34 years ago. Shellac is basically half-gel and half-nail polish, which is applied directly to the nail set with an LED lamp; however, it is thinner than most gel polishes and therefore gentler on nails.

The main difference between the two is the formulation as the key ingredient in gel nail polish is photoreactive meaning that it must be set under the LED or UV lamp. Gel nails also differ to Shellac in that a base coat is applied first and set followed by two coats of gel nail colour and a final top coat.

Gel vs Shellac Nails – the colour difference

There is a wider choice of colour available for gel nail polish because there are many, many brands to choose from including Gelish, OPI and Essie. There are only 132 shades of Shellac available whereas there are many, many more than this for gel.

Gel vs Shellac Nails – the removal difference

The other difference is that Shellac is easier to remove as it doesn’t need buffing or scraping to remove it.

Gel nails should be removed professionally as peeling them off can lead to flaky and dry nail damage. They are much harder to remove than Shellac and need to be professionally soaked for the best result and to protect the nail.

Would you like to find out more about the difference between gel and Shellac and our at home nail service? Simply give us a call on 02071013534 or email If you are ready to book an appointment, simply book online at or download our app. New customers can even save £10 on their first treatment with discount code NEW10.

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