I am not sure I’ve ever made it out of the salon with a perfect manicure much less made it a week. I would smudge it on the drying table, nick it getting into the car, slice through it making dinner.
So it was with great skepticism that I entertained a shellac manicure. The gel option promises shine and lasting power – up to two weeks – that traditional lacquers lack, as well as a heftier price tag. Basic manicures can cost as little as $12 but the gels cost at least double.
I decided to give it a try, though, after seeing Drew Barrymore appear in Lucky magazine with envy-inducing orange nails that would be perfect for summer – and that I would want to last for more than 5 minutes.
The process is a bit more involved than the typical manicure and comes with a learning curve. I counted two base coats, two coats of color and at least one topping it off. There was also the constant switch of hands under a special light box, making me nervous I would scratch the manicure before it was finished.
But 45 minutes later, I walked out with beautifully polished nails that were bright, shiny, completely dry and ready for summer.
During the next week, I received compliment after compliment on my nails, with many people asking whether it was shellac.
At the eight-day mark, though, the nails stopped looking so good. The manicure was beginning to grow out, and the polish on my left thumbnail had cracked. After 10 days, several nails had polish starting to lift, and it was definitely time to say goodbye.
Unlike traditional polish, though, one can’t just take off shellac. Removing it on my own, I was warned, could damage nails and I should have the salon do it. For someone who has her nails done regularly, it might not be a problem, but I have trouble squeezing it in once every other month.
I didn’t make it back to have the manicure removed, taking the risk and peeling it off, but do hope to return for another soon. While it didn’t meet the grand claims, I do think the shellac produced a much better result and looked far more professional, making it worth the extra cost.