Shellac Application can easily be done by anyone at home but there are a few tricks of the trade that can help and common issues that can be avoided to ensure that everything goes as expected and you can get the full 14- 21 days from each application.
Most Common Reasons for Premature Lifting/Chipping of Shellac:
Improper Nail Preparation
It is important to ensure that the nail is free or debris or oil- this is usually accomplished with a wipe of Nail Cleanser.
When prepping the nail, use a wooden or metal cuticle pusher and be sure to use smooth, gentle pressure on the nail plate to avoid damaging the natural nail. If the polish attaches to the cuticle during application, this area will lift and chip very quickly.
I personally try not to clip my cuticles but if you need to, remember less is more. Only remove excess tissue that is not attached- excessive trimming can lead to additional tissue growth which will lead to thicker cuticle tissue.
Base Coat/Primer Application
If Base Coat or Primer are applied too thickly, this can lead to decreased adhesion and lead to lifting. Also, too thick a layer of Base Coat can make it more difficult to remove your Shellac.
Applying Shellac too Thick- Leads to Wrinkling or Lifting
If the polish is applied too thick, the advised curing time may not be enough to fully cure the polish thoroughly which can lead to peeling.
The other issue that can occur, is that if the gel is too thick, it can more easily get snagged during normal day-to-day activities and chip along the edges.
I also find that if it is too thick along the cuticle line, it is more likely to chip from that area as it grows out so be sure not to overload the brush during application.
Not Changing/Cleaning UV Bulbs
Bulbs can be removed and cleaned with a soft, clean cloth.
If you find your UV Lamp is taking longer to cure your nails than usual or you notice air pockets or cloudiness, the bulbs may need replacing but they should last 10,000 hours.
For professional Nail Techs, this translates as: 30 to 40 gel clients a week, the bulbs should be changed every four to six months. If you have 20 gel clients a week, change your bulbs every six to eight months. Once a year is sufficient for nail techs with less than 20 gel clients a week.
Not Capping the Free Edge with Gel Polish
One of the most important steps to ensure you get the full wear from your Shellac Nails is capping the free edge of the nails. Gels tend to shrink when they’re cured so if they are not capped, this will reveal the free edge and lead to chipping. I try to cap each layer but if the cap goes on too thick each time, this can lead to a bump on the end of the distal edge which can chip or lift so you need to keep the caps thin but precise.
One simple way to cap your nails is as you apply your Shellac polish down one side, when you reach the distal edge, turn the brush slightly and swipe across and down the free edge toward the centre. Repeat on the other side and again with the final stroke down the centre over the free edge in order to seal it.
Another technique is to apply a thin layer to the free edge before you paint the rest of the nail as normal.
Whichever technique you use, it’s important to make sure it’s a thin layer that does not touch the skin under the nail as this will gather and most likely chip off taking some of the colour coat with it or leaving the free edge with no protection which will lead to premature chipping.
Excessive filing of the nails leaves the natural nail bed thin and weak, and not a good platform for Shellac. If the nails have been filed down too thin, the Shellac will not bond well to the natural nail and lifting can occur.
When the nail is thin and weak, it is much more flexible and allows the enhancement product to bend more. When flexed excessively, enhancements can get small hairline fractures that lead to breakage and tiny cracks that can get bigger over time. Very thin nails can also allow enhancement products to possibly seep through the nail plate and onto the nail bed causing allergic reactions.
Another concern with over-filing is that onycholysis can occur — where the nail plate separates from the nail bed. Once this occurs, the space in the nail plate and nail bed becomes extremely susceptible to infection.
Improper Product Storage
Make sure to keep all lids closed tightly and products stored upright, in a cool dry place when not in use- do not store near heat sources as this can lead to discolouration. Gels should be stored away from sunlight if possible, because any light that seeps in will begin to harden the gel.
Undercuring- Nails feel sticky after curing (not applicable to Base Coat which should be slightly tacky to help the colour coats adhere)
As mentioned above, this can be due to applying the product too thick or bulbs that need replacing.
It is also important to ensure the hand is placed fully inside the UV Lamp in order to be fully cured. If you feel like the polish is not fully cured after 2 minutes, there’s no harm curing for a further minute or 2, however, the gel may still lift if applied to thickly.
Keep in mind, Shellac is not a nail-strengthening product, although it can help nails feel tougher and more durable. Thin nails tend to bend more, which can lead to cracking and lifting of the polish.
If your natural nails are in bad condition or are naturally brittle or thin- it is less likely that your Shellac polish will last the full 14 days.
However, as someone who personally has brittle/peeling natural nails, I’ve found that the Shellac has protected my nails overall and allowed them to grow longer and stronger as I’m more likely to leave them alone between applications!
Also, I have found nail shape makes a difference. I have naturally square nails but if I don’t round the edges off slightly, I find the polish chips quicker- this may be because it is harder to cap these edges or it may be that they are more likely to catch off things during daily activities but I definitely saw a big difference when I filed the square edges down.
And remember, improper removal of the shellac is the most common issue with Natural Nail condition- never scrape with a metal cuticle pusher, damp nails are more susceptible to damage -always be as gentle as possible & re-soak to remove stubborn leftovers, a wooden cuticle stick is the best item to use as it will remove the shellac polish where it’s loosened up but won’t scrape the nail itself.
Gel Polish/Nail Enhancements generate heat while curing due to the polymerisation of the formula and the chemical bonds formed, which leads to an exothermic reaction- when this occurs too quickly, for example with a high powered lamp, the heat released is far greater. This is more likely with Harder Gels, such as Builder Gels, and Acrylics, as they form more bonds at a quicker rate. For this reason, it may be useful to cure certain products at a lower Wattage, for example our 48W Lamp can be adjusted to 24W to avoid discomfort. Or flash cure the nails a couple of times until the reactions slow to an acceptable level.
Another solution is to apply the Gel thinly- the less product means the less molecules there to bond and release heat. General consensus is that the 1st coat of Builder Gel should be approx. the thickness of 3 business cards.
Another cause can be over-filing which leaves the nail bed more sensitive and feeling heat you wouldn’t normally notice. You should not remove layers of the nail plate- at most you should ‘remove the shine’ and the nail plate does not shine , it is only the surface oils that shine so this should take minimal filing to remove.