Shellac vs. Gel Nails

The difference between the Shellac and Gel Nails is quite confusing and even sometimes people think that there is not a single difference between these two types; for example, it is just like the difference between Pepsi and Cola.

The main difference between the shellac and gel nail is the brand, application, and the formula of the polishes.

Gel nails from brands like Gelish are a pure gel form of polish which is cured under a UV lamp. However, shellac is a genuine hybrid UV gel polish can still be cured under a UV lamp and it can be applied more thinly.

Comparison chart

Basis Gel Nails Shellac Nails
What are they Gel nails contain just gel so it’s a semi-permanent gel Shellac contains part regular nail polish and part gel mixed so it’s a semi-permanent polish
Appearance Gel nails give more glossy and natural look Shellac nails give a less glossy and natural look
durability Can be used up to 2 weeks Can be used up to 2 or 3 weeks
Cost The salons charge $ 25 to $60 for manicure $25 to $60, charged by the Salons for manicure
Flexible Gel nails are more flexible than shellac nails, but not flexible like natural nails Less flexible than natural nails, but provides you same flexibility like gel nails
Application Manicure requires roughing up of nail bed For manicure roughing up of nail bed is not necessary
After effects Gel nails can be applied without a primer and leave no hard impressions, but overuse of premier can cause damage to the nail bed, and prolonged exposure of water may cause fungal infection Shellac nails are not as weak as with gel cuticles dry from acetone

What are Shellac Nails?

The Apprentice Beauty Blogger described shellac as ‘it is a form of permanent nail polish’, which can be cured under a UV lamp. Elle also describes shellac nails as a “thinner reincarnation” of acrylic paste.

However, Shellac is a hybrid between UV gel and nail polish, which means that the formula of shellac consists of half gel and half nail polish, so they give you a glossier and finish the look.

Shellac is just like a polish, it can’t be used to extend your nail. They are very flexible and durable as they can be maintained up to 14 days if appropriately manicured.

These nails are easier to apply and remove as shellac manicure does not need any rough treatment to the nail bed, before applying the polish and it will save your fingers from any damage. Unlike gel, Shellac is a thinner polish, so the remover will break through it very fast, as it’s simply covered in acetone caps and it takes only 15 minutes to remove.


  • Strong nails
  • Give your nails beautiful look
  • It can be last for 2-3 weeks, with proper care
  • Can be designed with glitter or artwork
  • It will hide the dullness of your nail and also helps your nails to grow


  • You have to visit the salon to remove these nails after 2 weeks
  • If these nails are not removed properly, they can damage your nail bed.

What are Gel Nails?

Gelish is a pure and thin form of gel polish, which is pigmented at various degrees to give different colors and it is the best choice for those whose nails are weak because of its thickness.

Gel nails are difficult to remove because the formula is thicker and it takes a long time to get rid of them from the nail bed.

To remove the gel nails effectively from your hands, first, file your nails, and then soak your nail bed in the acetone. The whole procedure of removing gel nails takes almost 50 minutes.

The most crucial part of the manicure process is to choose the right color as gel nails come in a wide variety of colors (almost 388 colors).

Gel nails are more durable as they can last for three weeks, as it depends on how you carry and how you maintain. If gel nails are well-maintained it may last for three months which means an entire month.


  • These are flexible
  • Low odour
  • Gives you natural look
  • Can hide your imperfect nail
  • It will extend the length of the nail
  • Can be designed beautifully


  • They are more expensive
  • They are difficult to remove
  • Heat spike under the UV lamp

Key Differences between Shellac and Gel Nails

  1. Shellac nails manicure is a semi-permanent polish while on the other hand, gel nails manicure is the semi-permanent gel.
  2. Shellac nails are thinner as compared to gel nails so they mostly last for two weeks; however, if maintained gel nails can last longer which is up to three weeks.
  3. Shellac nails are easier to remove than gel nails as you don’t have to buff your nails to break the bond, on the other hand, the gel nails are more difficult to remove as they need to break the bond because of the thicker formula.
  4. There are almost 132 colors available for shellac nails while on the other hand, gel nails have a wide variety of 388 colors.
  5. Shellac nails cannot be used to lengthen the nails while gel nails can be used to lengthen the nails by using plastic tips or paper form for a longer nail.

Comparison Video


The process of both shellac and gel manicures is quite similar, however, all these manicures provide you beautiful, long-lasting and classy look, and choosing between them depends on your need and choice. If your nails are stronger and you want the natural finish then the shellac nails will be the best choice as it will provide you shinier, glossy, chip-free and durable nails. Moreover, gel nails are the best choice for weaker nails and if your nails need a hardier polish which lasts longer, so you can go with the gel manicure.

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