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In this two-part blog series, our aestheticians give their expert advice on all things shellac. Today, they share their best tips on how to properly remove your shellac without damaging your natural nail.

What's the best way for a client to remove shellac on her nails?

Aga: It's always best to come in and have it removed by an experienced professional. There are many reasons for this, the most important being that it prevents the client from picking or peeling off the shellac themselves. You're guaranteed to wreak havoc on the nail if you do this!

Why is picking or peeling so bad for the natural nail?

Kaitlin: Think about it, you have to use a special LED machine to cure and harden the polish. This causes the gel elements in the shellac to fuse to the nail plate, which is why it lasts so much longer than regular nail polish! Because the shellac is fused to the nail, peeling it off without breaking it down first means that you will also take off the top layers of your nail as well.

Kate: Aestheticians are trained in safe removal methods that can make a big difference in maintaining the health of your nail. First, we use high-quality, professional grade acetone. Second, we buff off the top layer of the shellac top coat. This increases the absorption of the acetone. Finally, we use the e-file or drill only to thin down the shellac, not to remove it completely. All these steps are essential for proper removal. Having your manicure removed by a trained professional minimizes the chances of experiencing any unnecessary damage to the natural nail.

What should clients do if their shellac starts lifting on its own after the two week period?

Alex: Let it do its thing! A lot of our clients think that spontaneous lifting or chipping is bad, but if your manicure has been on for two weeks or more, this is perfectly normal. The shellac eventually loosens from the nail naturally, causing very minimal damage. It's tempting to pick at it, and this is where you can run into problems. Even though some sections of the shellac have started to lift or peel, it still adheres to other parts of the nail.

Ali: If you're prone to picking, call us right away and book a removal appointment! We also like to tell our clients to make regular, scheduled manicure appointments. We'll either remove your existing manicure or give you a fresh one. It's best to do this because you won't tempt yourself to pick if you know you'll be coming in soon to have your polish taken off.

Aga: Regular shellac appointments that follow a predictable schedule means that you come in every two or three weeks. This a good idea because by the two week mark, there is usually little to no chipping. As Ali mentioned, you'll be less tempted to pick at shellac that's perfectly in tact.

Do you think clients should remove their own shellac?

Kaitlin: I wouldn't recommend it. It will take you much longer to remove shellac at home than it would if you came to see us as the spa. That said, home removal is totally acceptable and definitely preferable to picking. We always educate clients on proper home removal if they tell us they'd like to learn how to remove their shellac in the comfort of their own home.

Alex: I completely agree. I strongly recommend the foil wrap method used in spas and not the acetone-in-a-bowl method, as having your hand sit in acetone for long periods of time can seriously dry out the skin. The foil wrap is also quicker because when the wrap is tight and there's pressure put on the nail, the acetone can break down the shellac quicker.

What other tips do you have to make sure the natural nail stays healthy?

Katie: Make sure you get a full manicure with each removal. This allows us to nourish and hydrate the natural nail with soothing lotions and fortifying nail strengtheners. A paraffin dip treatment is also an excellent thing to add on to your removal service, as the oils in the wax act as a barrier that protects the nail bed and cuticles.

Ali: You should also continue your moisturizing routine at home and continue to use cuticle oil and nail strengtheners to keep your natural nail protected and healthy looking.

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed this series on the dos and don’ts of shellac application and removal.