Aisling Keenan : Nail the polished look
Aisling Keenan gets her claws out to test instant-dry manicures
What is the story with Shellac? The three-week miracle manicure bur-st into salons this time last year and now it's everywhere, on every second hand you see.
Is it all it's cracked up to be? Is it worth the €30+ you pay for it? And the potential nail in the coffin -- does it damage your nails?
So what exactly is Shellac?
It's different from other three-week manicures in that it goes on thin, just the same as normal nail polish.
The nail technician applies a base coat, a UV colour coat and a top coat, all cured under a UV lamp to instantly prevent smudging, dents and chips.
It gives a gorgeous finished look to your hands and an unbeatable shine that holds -- perfect for those who like a manicured look but don't want to go the whole hog with acrylics or gel nails.
I went under the lamp myself and got one. I have really strong nails naturally and was worried that I'd be unlucky and my nails would get damaged or weakened.
Karla, counter manager at Wah Nails in Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, where you can get the experts to give you the whole Shellac shebang for €35, explained to me how best to maintain a Shellac manicure.
Karla says: "The best way to maintain Shellac is to use Solar Oil or cuticle oil daily to keep the nail hydrated underneath Shellac. Remember to use gloves when using cleaning products or if your hands are in water a lot, as both of those things dull the shine.
"To remove Shellac at home, give nails a light buff with a nail file, pour acetone -- or nail varnish remover with acetone -- into a little bowl, put the nails in and leave them for two minutes approximately.
"Take out one nail at a time and remove the layer of Shellac with a cuticle pusher. If the nail is not ready to come off, put it back in for another minute.
"After removal, lightly buff your nails and put cuticle oil on."
Shellac is for you if:
•You're willing to use oil and protect your nails from excessive water contact.
•You like the high-shine look and can stick with one colour for a few weeks.
•You're a girl on the go and need hassle-free nails.
•You're willing to spend the few minutes removing your Shellac properly to avoid damaging nails.
•You're an acrylic addict and you want a middle ground between that and bare nails to help strengthen your nails.
If Shellac is not for you, there are some brilliant 'normal' nail-polish options.
I regularly give myself manicures, and lately I've been swearing by the Sally Hansen Complete Manicure range (€8.95, selected pharmacies and department stores nationwide). You can easily pass the seven-day mark chip-free.
The shade range is great, and the brush is the perfect shape for error-free application. Sally really is the nail queen.
To rival the Shellac 'instant dry' effect of the UV lamp, you could try out the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti Chip Top Coat (€6.55, selected pharmacies and department stores nationwide). One coat and, in 30 seconds flat, you're ready to dig around in your handbag looking for your car keys.
Another super no-chip range is the new one from Bourjois. They say no chips for 10 days and, while I didn't quite make it to day 10 chipless, the polish certainly stood the test of time and much frenzied typing. The brush is angled, which is ideal for topping up in case you do get a chip. Bourjois 10 Days nail enamels, €7.99, from selected pharmacies and department stores nationwide.