CND Shellac – Your Questions Answered

If you’d like to know how to apply and remove shellac nail polish, we’ve published a step-by-step, easy to follow, photo tutorials on how to apply CND shellac nail polish and how to remove CND Shellac nail polish. The application and removal processes were done by a CND Education Ambassador.

shop cnd shellac nail polish

Since Esther’s Nail Center started offering CND Shellac, a lot of you have been asking about CND Shellac and our store  shipping policy. We try to put together all questions and answers into this post.

I am not an expert in CND Shellac or frequently use it. What I learned from other nail technicians or internet is what I use to answer these question. I’ll include links for references.

Questions and Answers about Shellac Nail Polish

Q: What CND Shellac colors are used for French Manicure?
A: For the white tip, use Shellac Cream Puff (opaque white) or Studio White (off-white).  For the natural pink, you may use Negligee, Clearly Pink or Romantique. Negligee and Cleary Pink are sheer. Romantique is a bit opaque.

Q: What does Shellac color look like?
A: Solessence has tonnes of photo swatches on CND Shellac nail polish and shellac layering. You have to do some searching to find what you want.  Here are some links to the Shellac nail polish swatches :

Q: Can I used normal nail polish thinner for CND Shellac?

A: According to CND, thinning the product is not recommended & thinner cannot be used without affecting the efficacy of the product. The Shellac may seem thicker in viscosity when cooler in the morning, as the room warms up to an average room temp it should go back to its normal preferred consistency. But if product becomes too thick to use, discard and replace with fresh product. Also it’s recommended to shake, shake and shake shellac prior to use for 30 seconds.  Here’s why (excerpt from Shellac blog on “Why do I need to shake the Shellac bottles?”) :

“If the bottle is not shaken prior to use, a disproportionate amount of solvent will be used as the brush is pulled through the top layer of solvent. Additionally, during use, more Solvent can evaporate out of the open bottle.  As more solvent is used, the formula becomes off balance and the thicker ingredients that settle to the bottom of the Shellac bottle are left. Overtime, this make Shellac seem thicker which makes it difficult to apply Shellac in thin layers and can lead to under curing and wrinkling.”

Q: Do you ship CND Shellac outside the US?
A: Yes, we ship CND Shellac products to outside the US except Acetone and Alcohol.

Q: Do I need a license to buy CND Shellac?
A: We don’t need a license to purchase Shellac. We’re open to professionals and consumers.


To read more about CND Shellac, I list some helpful links for references:

  • Shellac Q&A for Consumer, answers to your common question about Shellac.
  • CND Shellac French Manicure application and removal video tutorial

  • Shellac Blog, if the above are not enough.
  • CND Facebook, I am liking it! Pour out your complain and problem here.
  • Some cool videos on on pretty basic things like tricks how to apply Shellac Base Coat and Top coat, French manicure, how to use remover wraps, etc.
  • Video instruction on how to use CND Shellac UV Lamp



I’d like to quote what CND said in their News Update. I think it’s worth to read because many of us still have problems with Shellac application.

Lastly, allow us to reinforce some keys for successful use of Shellac:

1. Always use Shellac as a SYSTEM. Using Shellac Base Coat, Color Coat and Top Coat along with the CND (or Brisa) UV Lamp will provide perfect synergy for optimum wear.

a. Substituting any part of the system will result in diminished performance.

b. Substituting another lamp will result in insufficient cure, which reduces durability and length of wear. The UV output of the CND lamp is specifically calibrated to the system and Shellac formulas for proper cure.

2. Proper removal using the Shellac Remover Wraps will help keep your client’s nails gorgeous and healthy! Regular soaking in bowls of acetone or utilizing cotton & foil to remove Shellac will dry out and weaken the nail structure and overexpose the surrounding skin. The advantage of using the Shellac Remover Wraps includes the following:

a. The integrated cotton pad on the Wrap isolates the acetone to the nail plate…not the skin.

b. The plastic liner in the Wrap will help to hold in warmth that will accelerate removal.

c. Pulling the Wrap from the nail helps slide away the Shellac pieces for a tidy, meticulous removal.

3. Shake, shake, and shake! Vigorously shake every bottle before use to effectively blend all ingredients.

4. Apply in thin, even coats and seal the edge of the nail for best wear and to prevent wrinkling.

5. Proper cure is critical to your success with Shellac:

a. Don’t let your lamp bulbs run out! To avoid interruption in your Shellac or Brisa Gel services, make sure you regularly check the time remaining on your lamp bulbs. Go to to view the CND in minutes Lamp Set-up Video for a reminder of these full instructions. ( Not doing so could result in your lamp shutting off during a service! Paying attention to bulb usage will ensure your lamp continues to provide optimum output to cure your Shellac and Brisa products completely.

b. Remove all film from the lamp. Before using your lamp for the first time, remove all blue film from inside the lamp. Including the bottom FOOT TRAY.

c. Place hands properly in the lamp. Make sure nails are positioned in the highest output area, which is below the center of the bulbs.

d. Lay the hand flat on the tray…and be sure the client doesn’t ‘clench’ the tray with their fingers.


All CND Shellac nail polish, shellac uv lamp, wraps and other products are available at Check us out!

shop cnd shellac nail polish

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#1 Tjcoffelt on 11.08.10 at 7:03 pm

I Have some clients that wear the Shellac for 2 to 3 weeks, and some that can only go 1 or less then a week! And Im doing the same thing on all of them! Do you have any answers for me?

#2 Thresa on 11.11.10 at 6:38 am

Hi,thanks for your comment. You can visit this link at Shellac blog to read answer to your problem. (
Hope this helps.

#3 Cbpeach on 10.25.11 at 11:04 pm

The lighter colors stay on for 3 weeks, while the darker ones only make it 2. It has been consistent in our salon.  Colors like Beau, Negligee, Clearly Pink all stay on for 3 weeks. The rest, well, two weeks is the magic number.  Hope this helps!

#4 Renfad on 11.16.10 at 11:26 pm

Looking for Fedora, do you know when it will be available.

#5 Thresa on 11.17.10 at 5:56 pm

Sorry, we don’t know when. Maybe by early December.

#6 Thresa on 11.30.10 at 6:15 pm

We’ll have Fedora by this Friday 12/3/2010. Also Shellac UV lamp this Wednesday 12/01/2010.

#7 3leaguers on 12.18.10 at 1:33 pm

what two colors do I combine to get a shade similar to Essie’s Mademoselle?

#8 Thio77 on 12.21.10 at 7:08 am

Since I’m not sure how Mademoiselle looks like other than people’s swatches, in my opinion, shellac romantique would be similar to that. It is a sheer pink that can be used for French Manicure.

#9 Cangelicchio on 02.14.11 at 12:49 pm

I use Mademoiselle on a daily basis and quite honestly, so far the only sheer colors available in shellac are romantique and negligee.. Neither one of those can make anything close to mademoiselle.. sorry.. I saw new colors are going to be released in March.. Maybe then

#10 Smithb on 02.04.11 at 9:20 pm

Has anyone tried to put the shellac top coat over regular nail polish? I wondered if or how that would work?

#11 Katerina-83 on 02.19.11 at 4:10 am

I’m about to test that out on myself. I’ll keep you posted after I see how it goes.

#12 Santamkl on 08.11.11 at 3:01 pm

How did it go?

#13 Vicky624us on 09.26.11 at 5:08 pm

I tried it.. and NO.. It doesn’t work. It would be Great if it did!

#14 Slimy on 10.18.11 at 9:21 pm

I did…i do normal shellac and its still not really working well for me, still trying to figure out whats wrong. So just fo fun, i put on regular polish, then i realise it takes a while to dry so i put the top coat of shellac and cure. Then wipe with acetone. Its pretty much dry, just a bit soft but after its fine like shellac.
Its been 5 days and they still look good. High shine, strong, and georgeous color!! :)…i woudnt use it though in a salon because there is not guaranty

#15 Dee on 04.06.13 at 7:08 pm

I use regular color nail polish with Shellac topcoat. I wait at least an hour for the regular polish to cure, before adding the Shellac topcoat and then the uv lamp. Realize the regular nail polish still requires traditional drying time before adding another layer regardless of the polish type. To protect my nails, I will continue to use regular base coat/ridge filler because it dries quicker. I hope this helps

#16 Anonymous on 02.07.11 at 10:36 pm

Has any clients complained that the acetone (used when taking off the Shellac) has made their nails to start peeling? Is there any other product that came be used to removed the Shellac?

#17 Thio77 on 02.08.11 at 7:44 am

Hi, many have complained about the peeling of nails with regular use of Shellac and Acetone. That’s why CND recommends using the remover wraps to minimize the exposure to acetone and also daily use of cuticle oil. Please visit this link to read more:!/topic.php?uid=185146790360&topic=14310

#18 Cbpeach on 10.25.11 at 11:07 pm

Yes, we have had some clients have this problem. We do not however, soak in acetone, but use the CND wraps. Even then, the acetone can be drying and will cause some peeling and white spots (from dehydration).

#19 Hzleeyes37 on 03.01.11 at 4:00 pm

can you put shellac over top of a nail wrap?

#20 Vicky624us on 09.26.11 at 5:17 pm

Yes, Shellac can be used over any nail enhancement without using the base coat and with the other usuall prep.

#21 Anonymous on 09.28.11 at 4:43 am

Hi Vicky624us, thanks for answering these questions. We appreciate it.

#22 Plastic Blinds on 03.09.11 at 8:56 am

Just came and read, this is wow! I was seek from many blogs, but here is the best, I love it.

#23 admin on 03.14.11 at 9:55 pm

Hi thanks! I am happy to hear you like it. I know for sure it’s a long one since I wanna make sure people read the info.:-). Thanks again.

#24 WollC on 03.23.11 at 2:36 pm

I have only been using this method for the last 2 months. The last 2 times I applied the shellac color, it has wrinkled in the curing process. Anyone know why?

#25 Thresa on 03.24.11 at 5:48 am

Hi, I think it’s maybe because the shellac application is too thick. Check this link for details:

#26 hillary fry on 03.30.11 at 11:14 am

Thank you for mentioning for the Shellac swatches – I’m glad they’ve been helpful!

#27 admin on 04.04.11 at 9:07 pm

You’re very welcome :-)

#28 Wattersk on 04.17.11 at 5:24 pm

I just applied Shellac top coat (only the 2nd application from a new bottle) near a window woth a breeze. Almost immewdiately the brush turned solid and the top coat became a blob of unusuable product. What??!!

#29 Delta_V on 08.07.11 at 5:49 am

The UV light from the sun coming in through the window cured the shellac.

You cant use it in natural light.

#30 Laurie on 12.23.12 at 10:20 pm

You have to apply shellac away from any type of UV light because that is what cures the shellac. The best way is to apply it in an area where no sunlight can come in.

#31 CLipka on 05.09.11 at 6:55 pm

I have had the shellac mani twice now and each time it comes off on the same nail within a few days. My other nails seem to be okay except in some spots they start to bubble usually after about 12 days which I find acceptable. However I’m wondering if the preparation of my middle fingernail needs more attention or what would be the reason for the shellac coming off after just 3 or 4 days of the application?

#32 Delta_V on 08.07.11 at 5:48 am

Is your nail tech doing your shellac manicure by having you wash your hands well first, then pushing your cuticles back dry (as in without using cuticle remover or lotions/oils of any kind) then gently buffing your nails with a very fine grit buffer, then using either pure alcohol or a scrub fresh type cleanser to prep the nails, then applying and curing the shellac as directed and proceeding from there with the soaking, scrub and massage?

If your nail beds are soaked or oil is massaged in prior to shellac it can make it bubble and peel. The shellac needs to be done first, then the mani.

#33 Deb on 05.28.11 at 5:02 pm

Can you apply two layers of topcoat?

#34 Vicky624us on 09.26.11 at 5:15 pm

Yes, I cure and cleanse in between and have had no problems.

#35 Nicole on 05.31.11 at 12:08 am

I’ve just started using Shellac and I did my own nails, everything went great except for when I applied the top coat. I cured for 2 min. and then I wiped them with a lent free pad with alcohol. They didn’t have a very glossy shine! They were kind of dull. Why, has anyone had this happen? I followed the directions well! Help!!!

#36 Mars on 06.06.11 at 12:31 am

You need to use at least 75% isopropyl alcohol for a shiny finish. I think CND recommend 99% isopropyl alcohol(IPA)

#37 Vicky624us on 09.26.11 at 5:14 pm

I have had that happen on occassion. When top coat looks dull after cleansing with alchohol.. I re-apply the top coat once more, cure again for 2 mins and it’s been fine.

#38 Mars on 06.06.11 at 12:28 am

I just bought an older Cnd lamp  and each coat doesn’t dry. Not until I use IPA at the end. I am also finding that it doesn’t last. Have I been ripped off?

#39 Casually_Observant on 11.06.13 at 8:12 pm

Check inside and see if a bulb or two is out. If one of the bulbs has accidently been bumped, the bulb may have come loose. Make sure all bulbs are tight and lighting up. If not, that may be your problem.

#40 carly on 03.10.14 at 7:38 pm

I just got a new cnd shellac lamp and was told to remove all of the blue film before I used the lamp, otherwise the blue film will also cure to the lamp. Well I forgot to take the blue film offthe Iinside of the lamp before I used it. Did I ruin my lamp?

#41 teresa on 06.19.11 at 9:18 am

do you need to clean your brushes?

#42 Dmgies on 06.21.11 at 1:53 am

As I was polishing my client, I noticed the Shellac color was pulling away from the cuticle and edges. What am I doing wrong? I know you shouldn’t polish to the skin, but after multiple coats, I’m literally watching it pull towards the center of the nail and leaving a gap between the color and the skin.

#43 JO Harris on 11.23.11 at 9:25 pm

Hi,  I’ve been having the same problem, seems to be more with flat, matte colours as opposed to pearly colours.  I’m prepping correctly, applying coats thinly and thoroughly shaking the colours, any advice??? Did you get an answer?

#44 Patsy on 10.25.12 at 8:06 am

The pulling in from the cuticle is usually caused because there is oil, moisturizer or lotion on the fingers. The soaps I used for shellac have no moisturizers in them. I use a cleaning spray and a dry brush to scrub the nails clean of cuticle debri or dust, before applying my last wipe of pure acetone, then apply a naill dehydrator then base coat and so on.

#45 Susanwalsh on 07.25.11 at 3:33 am

Out of base coat. Now what?

#46 Thresa on 07.31.11 at 5:40 am

We now have Shellac Base Coat and Top Coat in stock, big and small size. Also other colors are in stock

#47 Michaelarisk on 09.21.11 at 7:01 pm

Where do i get the solution/alcohol to wipe off the residue once the top coat has been finished? and what is it called?  thanx

#48 Anonymous on 09.21.11 at 10:22 pm

The solution is 99% Alcohol. You can find it at ( Better to get a 99% to get the full shine.

#49 Patsy on 10.25.12 at 8:09 am

Nas99 or can be bought anywhere where they sell 99% isopropyl alcohol. It’s all the same, different packaging.

#50 Casually_Observant on 11.06.13 at 8:10 pm

I am in the US and have found 91% alcohol at Walmart stores for a very reasonable price. The 99% is not found anywhere in my area. Surprisingly, the 91% and the 70% Isopropyl Alcohol work just fine for me for finishing up a Shellac manicure. I see no difference between them in the final result.

#51 Jnhdunn on 10.12.11 at 3:46 pm

Can u use basic one colors with shellac base and top coat?

#52 Cbpeach on 10.25.11 at 11:02 pm

Shellac is a great product but am noticing the longer some people wear it, the more dehydrated their nails get.  Does anyone else have this problem?

#53 Maria___4 on 07.01.12 at 1:31 am

clients must use solar oil twice a day!

#54 Alane on 11.13.11 at 6:06 pm

Question: if I order Shellac in the winter what happens if it freezes while en route, delivery truck other areas where product may sit during transport. Will this ruin the Shellac? I do not want to order product in winter until I have this answer. I know that acrylic polishes can be permately damaged if frozen.

#55 admin on 11.19.11 at 4:25 pm

CND Shellac is a chemical solvent based. Unlike water-based nail polish, which can freeze in cold winter weather, Shellac won’t freeze unless it’s in an extreme cold temperature like below 100 F.

#56 Myraquilt on 12.08.11 at 7:47 pm

after the shellac manicure procedure was complete I had the tech apply some regular OPI glitter polish and it looked nice.  Is it possible to have good effects if I use a Crackle polish after a shellac manicure?

#57 Kristen on 01.22.12 at 12:02 am

I have a 6W led lamp and I think it’s strong enough to cure my shellac polish. The problem is that I have a prep and base coat of ” red carpet gel manicure” which is not CMD Shellac and I use the color then the top coat of red carpet as well and Im not sure why it isn’t curing right. It makes wrinkles in my nails and bubbles off and then I end up peeling it off like it wasnt fully dried but then on some of my other nails it was fine and looked great I don’t know what I did right with some of my nails and what I did wrong with the others… Someone help me!!! Any suggestions??? Maybe cure my base coat longer? My light only cures for 45 seconds at a time because that’s how it works with my “red carpet gel manicure system” someone give me a pointer that would be awesom!!!

#58 [email protected] on 01.28.12 at 10:36 pm

Heres my issue, im finding some colors get very thick over time, as well as the base and top coats, ive been throwing them out and buying new bottles. Can they be thinned as with polishes? Also im finding some clients are haveing an advrese effect with wearing shellacs alls well for months then out of the blue nails are breaking and weak so we go back to normal polishes, bcas i cant explain tbe problem. Also it seems some colors with pink n whites the pinks seem to peal up unlike any other colors again i cant figure out the issues. Shellac has bcome problem 75percent of my very full book i have a very loyal clientel i want to have these answers for them pls help w these guestions. Thank you CJ Beckham. Owner Salon 5402 in Gainesville fla. pla respond to [email protected]

#59 Maria___4 on 07.01.12 at 1:35 am

cnd said that bottles must be shaken vigorously and the caps cleaned, closed thigtly and not placed in direct sun. all that helps. there is no thinner sorry. clients must use solar oil. i tell my clients. u must use solar oil everyday cuz ur nails need moisture, shellac protects ur nail but the nail needs the solar oil vitamins tomake them stronger…n ull see a difference.

#60 Casually_Observant on 11.06.13 at 8:06 pm

I am not a salon owner, however I have been doing nails (all types) for nearly 30 years. I have been using the Shellac products for almost 2 years. If base, color or top coat starts to get a little thick, I use a few drops of pure acetone and shake well. The product is refreshed and there is no change in strength or longevity after this. Don’t toss a perfectly good bottle. Try acetone and see if this doesn’t fix it for you!

#61 Erica W on 02.08.12 at 2:29 am

I’ve done everything like CND says but am having problems with the shellac lifting and peeling. what could be the cause for that? I am not using a CND lamp but a 45 watt Thermal Spa Gel Nail Lamp. really don’t think that should be the prob. Help??

#62 LINDAWILLMS on 03.09.12 at 11:19 pm


#63 Mobiledesignerbeauty on 03.12.12 at 9:55 pm

The tips of my shellac nails are totally worn off is only been 6 days. What am I doing wrong??? Please help thank u. E

#64 Dodiesmedd on 03.23.12 at 12:27 am

does shellac contain and acrylic?

#65 Dragonfly1472000 on 04.12.12 at 7:56 pm

what is the solution that the stylist uses to remove the shellac, acetone or isopropol alcohol.  They took it from a stored and seald jug, I could not see the label fast enough.  They poured it into a bowl, and placed that in a bowl of water.  Then I placed all my fingers in it.  Very warm to almost to hot to keep them in after a few minutes.  I like my nails very much, I washed after they removed everything, I watched them take the used soultion and contain it to be discarded later.  It makes me nervous, they covered the bowl with a towel so I know there had to be vapors even if I could not smell them.  It got cold in the salon so they cranked up the heater.  Halfway trhough my treatment I was so sleepy!  When I got home I took a “nap” and woke up two hours later and even at that I had to force myself to wake – unusual for me – might there be a correlation?  If they are using hazardous practices I need to know!

#66 Ishrogers on 05.21.12 at 7:51 am

Ihave a client that would like a fun funky french, does anybody have any ideas? Cream puff and clearly pinl are what i used last. She liked it but i think she wants something more fun!!!!

#67 admin on 05.23.12 at 4:09 pm

Perhaps adding glitters like zillionaire or mother of pearl. Or use different color instead of white.

#68 Meghan on 08.19.12 at 4:12 pm

After my daughter and I have been getting shellac manis for a couple of months (and loved them) we decided to purchase all the equipment and do it ourselves. I am in for over $200 for the base coat, top coat, 3 colors, the CND UV lamp (states that it is for shellac and brisa gel), and acetone. We did our nails this weekend and they are very tacky. We followed the directions very closely. The only alteration was to extend the curing time with each coat as they were not cured at all after the specified time. I am ready to throw it out teh window!
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

#69 Thresa on 08.29.12 at 11:37 pm

It may be your light. If any of the gel polishes are applied too thick, it won’t cure well. Also have you used a lint-free wipe with 99% alcohol to wipe the surface of the nail AFTER the top coat has been cured to remove the tackiness? Shellac is supposed to be applied very thin, you should be able to practically see through the layers. After base, 2 colors and a top coat, you should remove the sticky layer with alcohol on a lint free wipe. Hope it helps

#70 Jess on 09.15.13 at 3:53 pm

Hi can I use the base coat followed by top coat, curing in between, to just get a clear look?

#71 thresa on 09.17.13 at 9:58 am

Sure you can do that.

#72 Becky on 05.20.15 at 5:44 am

Hello,, I just have one quick question,
Do I have to have a license to apply Shellac Polish to friends that come to my house?? they love the way I do my nails so they come to my house so I can paint their nails and do designs on them,, but they pay me to do it, do I need a license to apply shellac at my own home??

#73 admin on 05.20.15 at 10:54 am

It depends on the state where you live. For example California law requires all barbering, cosmetology (including skin care and nail care), and electrolysis services done for a fee to be performed by a State-licensed operator in a State-licensed salon or barbershop, or by a student in an approved school. State law bans, for example: Haircuts at a work site.
Facials, skin care, or other services at bridal parties or spa parties.Cosmetology services at a hotel.
Anyone providing barbering or cosmetology services in an unlicensed location may be subject to a $1,000 fine.

#74 Susan on 09.03.15 at 6:13 am

Hi. I just did my shellac with the whole CND process at home for the first time. I don’t wear my nails very long at all but they are feeling a little weaker than when I had the process done at the salon. I’m guessing that maybe I should have used two coats of the clearly pink color instead of one. Rather than removing and applying everything again could I do a coat of the clearly pink over my top coat then cure and apply the top coat again and cure? Looking for a quick fix.

#75 Karen Walker on 10.20.15 at 9:58 am

I just purchased a CND UV lamp and 20 CND shellac colours. Expensive here in Australia! Anyway, I want my nails to look opaque, and I find that doing thin layers, they just look streaky and messy. I’m doing all the right steps. I just did my nails about an hour ago and I put the first colour coat on thin and the second colour coat a bit thicker, so it’s opaque. I’m wearing Cake Pop and it’s still a bit messy. Help please.

#76 admin on 11.09.15 at 10:32 pm

Hi Karen, you may want to use 3 thin coats to cover the streak. Practice makes perfect :-)

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