Shellac Luster

There’s a nail color that is so resilient and long-lasting that there’s currently a worldwide shortage of the product.

Shellac by CND (Creative Nail Design) came out in May, but it’s already drastically changed the minds of DIY-ers everywhere: Going to the nail salon is finally worth it again.

The CND Shellac manicure is no-chip, no-smudge, dries quickly and lasts two weeks at minimum. At this rate, the length of your nails will outgrow the life of the manicure.

While it applies like polish, the consistency is a little thicker, a bit more pasty. CND boasts on its website that Shellac is a “hybrid nail color,” part UV gel polish and part average nail lacquer. Gel polish usually means a couple of things: nail damage, smelly chemicals and an inconvenient removal process. CND has eliminated the negative. There’s zero damage to the nail in the process, whereas most gel manicures require buffing (which can thin your nails). Shellac is also hypo-allergenic and what they call “3-Free”: no formaldehyde, DBP or toluene, which are known as the three most toxic chemicals nail products can contain.

The manicure starts out with a soak, filing, clipping, cuticle care—the usual. But instead of the lotion-and-massage step, a base coat is applied, followed by two to three coats of color, and then a top coat. In between each very, very thin coat, your nails are “cured” under a special UV light. And just like that, your nails are dry. Lotion application and a brief hand massage are the final steps, which result in hands that don’t feel dried out by the typical dry-wet routine.

The Nail Lounge in Costa Mesa has offered the Shellac manicure since it was first made available to the public this past spring. Decked out in an electric-blue, magenta, orange and white pop interior with Taylor Swift piped in overhead, it’s not exactly the type of salon I’d patronize, but co-owner Cherri was more than accommodating, friendly (but not too friendly) and, most important, gave me one of the best manicures I’ve ever had. Her application was flawless and her technique firm. Plus, she gave an amazing arm-and-hand massage with my choice of mango-coconut lotion.

The downside to Shellac? There isn’t a wide range of colors to choose from, but the 12 that are available cover the basics—light pinks, nudes, bright pinks, magentas, wines and a bronze. Dark-shade lovers, take note: There’s only one plum right now, called Fedora, which is comparable to the very popular Lincoln Park After Dark by OPI. The most popular color at the Nail Lounge—which is, yes, also currently out of stock—is Romantique, a very pretty, soft, pale pink.

Shellac procedures are pricier than the traditional manicure ($42 at the Nail Lounge), but you won’t have to worry about messing up your nails while reaching for your car keys or fumbling for your wallet post-manicure. And, you know, that whole lasting-more-than-two-weeks thing is pretty unheard of. The Nail Lounge also offers a weeklong guarantee that the color will last. If not, come back and they’ll fix it at no cost.

While CND’s site initially promised that more Shellac supplies would arrive by mid-August, that obviously hasn’t happened; it now states that reinforcements will soon turn up.

The Nail Lounge, 369 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 515-5115; Appointments recommended. To locate another nail salon near you that offers Shellac, visit


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