How to: French Manicures With Shellac

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Shellac can be used for a French manicure.
Shellac can be used for a French manicure. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Shellac is a particular brand of nail polish manufactured by the company Creative Nail Design. This particular polish is remarkable in that it does not readily flake or chip. A manicure using Shellac looks like new for up to two weeks and can be worn for longer, up to about a month. While this nail polish requires some techniques unique to Shellac due to its formula, you can use Shellac nail polish to paint a French manicure in much the same way as ordinary nail polish.

Things You'll Need

  • Nail clipper
  • Nail file
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Shellac base polish
  • CND (Creative Nail Design) UV lamp
  • Pink Shellac polish
  • White Shellac polish
  • Small brush
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Shellac top coat

Prepare the nails by trimming and shaping as well as smoothing and pushing back the cuticles. Wash your hands or ask the person whose nails you are painting to wash her hands afterwards. The nails must be clean, smooth and dry prior to application.

Apply a layer of the base coat polish to each nail on one hand. Place the painted nails under the CND UV light for 10 seconds. This lamp is designed specifically to cure Shellac polish, and the polish will feel dry right away after exposure to the light. Repeat for the other hand.

Apply a thin layer of pink polish to each nail on one hand. Place the nails on that hand under the UV light for two minutes. Add a second thin coat and put the hand under the UV light for another two minutes. Repeat for the other hand.

Apply a line of white polish to the tips of each nail on one hand. Make the line match the shape of the nail. If the polish is not perfect, you can shape the polish with a brush dipped in 99 percent isopropyl alcohol. The CND company sells brushes for this purpose. Shellac won't cure without the UV light, so you have a little time to fix mistakes. When you are satisfied, place the hand you painted under the UV light for two minutes, then repeat the process with the other hand.

Apply a layer of top coat over the nails on one hand. Place the nails on that hand under the UV light for two minutes. Repeat with the other hand.

Wipe each nail with isopropyl alcohol. This cleans the nails and removes any sticky residue from the Shellac polish. The CND company sells pads soaked in alcohol for this purpose, but you can use any brand of 99 percent isopropyl alcohol.

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