Here's What You Can Do To Fix Your Shellac-Ruined Nails

Reverse the damage of gel manicures.

shellac nails
Image: iStock

In my experience, if something seems to good to be true – it usually is. Those weird emails you get claiming you’ve won $10,000? You can bet your bottom dollar it’s a scam. Zero kilojoule chocolate bars? They’re probably loaded with stacks of nasty chemicals. Unfortunately, the same goes for Shellac nail polish. Yes, it makes your nails look amazing, never chips and lasts for way longer than normal polish. But as anyone who has used it long-term will be able to tell you, they can wreak absolute havoc on your nails. In my pre-Shellac days, I used to get heaps of compliments on my long, strong nails (kind of a weird accolade but hey, I’ll take it!)
Four years of religious Shellac use later and my nails resemble those thin blotting papers you use to de-shine your T-zone. They’re short, brittle and they break at the drop of a hat. Not ideal. Crappy nails aside, we recently wrote about how the UV nail lamps can increase your skin cancer risk. For these two reasons, I’ve decided to break up with Shellac and start using a new polish method called SNS.

What is SNS?

SNS is basically what you’d get if Shellac and acrylics had a super-baby. It stands for Signature Nail Systems and it’s gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. It’s almost the same price as Shellac, doesn’t ruin your nails and doesn’t require setting with a UV lamp.

“SNS is a nail dipping system that uses a brush-on gel base on the nail, which is then dipped in a powder. The powder comes in natural pink and white for a french manicure look, as well as a range of colours.” — Nail educator, technician and blogger Julie Morrow via Mamamia.

One of the reasons Shellac can ruin your nails is because it’s not very flexible. Because of this, it can cause the nail to bend inwards which can lead to breakage. Not only does this not happen with SNS, the dipping powder also helps to grow and strengthen your nails! Yep, this is one of the rare occasions where something actually isn’t too good to be true.
But it’s always better to fix the root of a problem, rather than just slapping a (metaphorical) band-aid over it. So even if you are keen to make the switch from gel to SNS, here are some other things you can do to help make your nails long and strong again.

1. Take a natural collagen supplement

Adding a natural supplement to your daily routine can go a long way in promoting quick nail growth. The added bonus is that they also happen to be fantastic for your hair and skin! We love this one from Vida Glow because it comes in five different flavours and you can add it to your smoothies.

vida glow collagen
Image: Vida Glow

2. Limit water exposure

Don’t worry, we’re not going to suggest you stop showering! But just make sure to wear gloves when you’re washing the dishes, as the combination of water and harsh chemicals can damage your nails.

3. Use a cuticle oil

Brushing some cuticle oil onto your nails each day will help increase circulation and stimulate new nail growth. Make sure you go for one that includes vitamin E, as this is the miracle ingredient for nourishing your nails. We love the SolarOil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner from CND Essentials.

healthy nails
Image via Instagram user @oliveandjune

4. Never rip

The absolute worst thing you can do to your nails is rip the gel polish off yourself. This is actually half the reason many people have such brittle nails after using Shellac! If you are going to keep using gel or SNS polish, ensure you always always have it properly removed by a nail technician.

5. Try a natural soak

As mentioned, avoiding abrasive chemicals is important when strengthening your nails. But there are plenty of natural ingredients you can soak your hands in to speed up nail growth! Olive oil, coconut oil, lemon and oranges all work wonders.

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