How Gel Nail Polish Differs from Shellac – Learn Here

Visit a nail bar and there is a whole menu of options including acrylic and wraps, and naturally, different types of polishes, including gel and shellac.

Some salons use the two terms interchangeably, while others consider them two different services, so it’s difficult to tell if there’s any difference between gel and shellac nails. Let’s take a look at both terms and see exactly what they refer to and what separates them.


Gel Nail Polish

shellac nails vs gel

Gel polish is a long-lasting type of nail varnish that created quite a lot of buzz when it first appeared on the market. It consists of a type of methacrylate polymer and it can usually only be applied at a beauty salon, as it requires a more complex procedure than store-bought polish.

While you can paint it on your nails similarly to how you would use traditional nail polish, the gel doesn’t simply dry. You need to cure it under an ultraviolet LED or lamp and then sculpt it using an electric file, and it is also more difficult to take off than regular varnish.

Usually, the professionals in a beauty salon will gently push it off (sometimes using a small wooden stick) after keeping your nails soaked in acetone for about 15 minutes. Filing may be required afterward to remove any gel residue.

While traditional nail polishes can usually last up to a week at best before they start chipping, gel manicures can stay intact even for two weeks.

Difference Between Classic and Hybrid Lashes


Shellac Nail Polish

Gel vs Shellac Manicure

Many say that shellac is just a brand name for a specific gel polish, and they aren’t wrong, but they’re not quite right either. Indeed, “Shellac” is a term coined in the manicure industry by a company called Creative Nail Design, but it is not just a regular gel varnish.

It is actually a hybrid of the well-known gel manicures. It is a mix of gel and regular polish added in thin layers and cured under low-watt UV lamps. If properly applied and taken care of, it can last up to 4 weeks, although some touch-ups may be required when your nails start to grow.


Recommended for You:


The Differences Between Gel and Shellac

Are you a bit clearer now about the difference between shellac and gel nails? Have a look at the table below for a straightforward side-by-side comparison:



  • Generic term used for a variety of varnishes made out of a methacrylate polymer
  • Branded, patented term applied to hybrid gel polish.
  • Requires sculpting before application and filing afterward
  • No sculpting and filing usually needed, and thus there’s a lower risk of damaging the nail
  • Removal is done by soaking the nails in acetone for 15 minutes, then pushing the layer off and filing to get rid of residue.
  • Removal is faster, involving a special wrapping process using acetone.


Liked our post on the difference between gel and shellac nail polishes? Subscribe to our newsletter to get interesting topics straight to your inbox, as well as answers to any dilemmas you may have.