"Why I'll never have a shellac manicure ever again."


For most of my early 20s, I was adamant I wouldn’t hand over any of my hard earned cash for the upkeep of my nails.

I wasn’t a fan of the look and maintenance that came with acrylic nails and I was happy to shape and polish them myself while being silently boastful about the amount of money I was saving. That was, until shellac entered the manicure scene.

No need for a fake nail? Tick.

Doesn’t require a whole day hunched over a table to achieve? Tick tick.

Dries instantly, meaning I don’t have to feign every single door handle I come in contact with? Tick tick tick.

Like many other women, when the new nail technology became available, its positive attributes meant I was well and truly converted.

It was the answer to all of my nail problems and all of a sudden my money hang-ups went out the window as my gaze turned to my freshly painted nails that now no longer chipped and looked brand new for weeks.

Image via iStock.

All of a sudden I was popping my feet in the spa and propping my hands in front of a lovely nail technician on a fortnightly basis. I did this for years, I'd guess at least three.

That is, until one day when I noticed the beds of my nails turning a bright red.

Almost instantly they began to itch uncontrollably. I don't think I can adequately describe the level of itch I was dealing with on both my hands and feet. As I continued to have my manicures and pedicures, roughly a day or two after, the itching would get worse and worse, going from bad to excruciating.

At one point, it was so bad I soaked my fingers and toes in Listerine, found a thick bristled brush and sat on the floor of my bathroom viciously scrubbing away hoping the itch would subside. When it comes to first world problems, I would put it up there with one of the worst.

Image via iStock.

Faced with the decision of having to choose between beautiful looking nails and fully functioning fingers and toes, I did what any grown woman in the same situation would do.

I Googled. Man, did I Google.

While I couldn't find any legitimate medical information online (go figure) after much forum trolling and time spent on beauty blogs, I convinced myself of what I was suffering from.


A shellac allergy.

I quizzed the nail technician on my next visit to the salon who told me it was in fact, either an allergy I had developed after extended exposure to the chemicals in the shellac or subsequent materials used or a consequence of a salon not up to required cleanliness standard.

Assuring me that the salon I was currently standing in took every precaution to make sure all of their tools and equipment were sterile, she suggested I see a doctor about my increasingly itchy problem.

Image via iStock.

When I did eventually go to see a GP, he echoed the same sentiment as the nail technician and suggested to solve my problem, I cease getting shellac at all.

He clearly didn't understand. I then tried a new nail salon all together to see if I had the same reaction elsewhere and much to my disappointment (and pain) the itching continued.

With no other options left I decided to try an SNS manicure, which thankfully saw an end to the next level itching.

Yet as it cannot be used in pedicures, I've reverted back to normal polish on my toes and take my own quick dry top coat with me to the salon to avoid bumps (yes, I'm one of those people now).

But despite my problem being solved, I still shudder when I get too close to a bottle of shellac.

Disclaimer: As you may have figured, I'm not a doctor. Please do not take this as medical advice. If you're experiencing a healthcare concern, please see a medical practitioner. 

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