So Your Shellac Has Started Peeling Off—Here's What to Do

Updated 04/04/19

We've all been there: You spend ages working out exactly which shellac nail polish colour will go with your spring wardrobe (because it has to get warmer soon, right?), but then just a few days later, you take a look down at your keyboard ready to marvel at your fine fingertips and notice that something isn't right. Right there, at the tip of your forefinger on your right hand, your shellac has started to peel. Nightmare.

First you'll go through a phase of denial, pretending that everything is fine, but then a huge wave of utter disappointment comes crashing over you when you realise it won't be long before the rest of your nails follow suit and start flaking. And if you're anything like us, stage three is full of temptation to pick, peel and bite the polish back down to the bare nail. And if you didn't know already, that isn't a great idea. Keep scrolling to find out exactly how to fix peeling shellac. 

How to fix peeling shellac: model with red nails

If you like nothing more than picking at a two-week-old shellac manicure, let this be a warning to you. "Our nails are made up of about 25 layers of keratinised skin cells, and peeling off gels will take off those top protective layers, causing the nail to become thinner, weaker and uneven," says nail expert and manicurist Cherrie Snow.

Meet The Expert

Cherrie Snow is a celebrity manicurist in London, England. She counts Jodie Comer, Sophie Turner, and Naomi Scott as clients and has worked on editorials for Glamour UK, New York Times Style, and Vogue Italia.

Do not pick or peel the shellac. Jeopardizing the strength of your nails in this way can lead to white spots and stress breaks.

So in short, if you do notice your manicure has started to peel, do not start picking. Instead, reach for a bottle of topcoat. Apply a thin layer over the top of the polish, and seal in the edge by painting over the tip of the nail. This will help your manicure hold out until you can get to the salon to have the gels removed. As with many things, prevention is far better than attempting a cure. Snow recommends wearing gloves when washing up and cleaning, as well as avoiding opening boxes or cans (good luck if you're a Diet Coke addict) to increase the longevity of your gel manicure.

"Apply hand cream after EVERY hand wash, and regularly massage cuticle oil over the gelled nail to encourage flexibility and prevent chipping," she adds. It's also worth considering the brand of gel. Snow uses Bio Sculpture Gel, which doesn't require the use of primers, bonders or harsh buffing to be removed. Perfect.

How to fix peeling shellac: Rimmel London Super Wear Top Coat
Rimmel London Super Wear Top Coat $5
How to fix peeling shellac: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat $9
How to fix peeling shellac: Smith and Cult Above It All (Top Coat)
Smith and Cult Above It All (Top Coat) $19

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