A close-up shot of a woman's hands, showcasing her healthy and strong nails with a fresh coat of clear nail polish, demonstrating effective techniques to strengthen nails after shellac.

How To Strengthen Nails After Shellac Removal

Having beautiful, strong nails is important to many women. Shellac and other gel polish provides a glossy, chip-resistant manicure, but can damage nails if removed improperly. Don’t worry – with some TLC you can get your nails back in top shape!

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: Give your nails a break from polish for a few weeks, moisturize daily with cuticle oil, use a strengthening base coat underneath polish, and consider biotin supplements to improve nail growth from within.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss why shellac can weaken nails, tips for removing shellac properly, and the best products and practices for restoring strength and health to your nails post-shellac.

Why Shellac Can Damage Nails

Hard Removal

Shellac is known for its extremely hard and durable finish. While this is great for protecting your nails, it can cause damage when removing the polish. Many people will pick and peel off shellac rather than properly soaking it in acetone.

This peeling motion can pull off layers of the nail bed, leaving nails thin and weak.

Lack of Moisture

The shellac layer completely seals the natural nail underneath. This prevents any moisture from getting in or out. After a few weeks, this can cause the nails to become dry and brittle underneath the polish. The lack of moisture leads to peeling and cracking when the shellac is removed.

Repeated Polish

While shellac can last up to 2-3 weeks on nails, many people get it reapplied immediately after removal. Getting shellac repeatedly without breaks can suffocate the nails. This leads to thinning nails, dryness, peeling, and breaking.

Dermatologists recommend giving your nails a break by wearing regular polish for a few weeks between shellac applications.

To keep nails healthy, be sure to properly soak off shellac rather than picking it off. Give nails a rest between applications by occasionally wearing regular polish. It’s also important to moisturize the nails and cuticles regularly to prevent excessive dryness and damage from shellac removal.

Proper Shellac Removal

Book Removal Appointment

The best way to safely remove shellac nail polish is to book an appointment with your nail technician (amazing idea!). They have the proper tools and solvents to remove the polish quickly and effectively without damaging your nails.

Attempting to pick off or peel shellac at home can lead to peeling, chipping, and weakening of the nails. Leave it to the professionals for the best results.

Avoid Picking or Peeling

We all know the temptation to pick at or peel off chipping shellac, but resist it! Picking and peeling leads to uneven, jagged edges on your nails (not a good look). The sealant layer of shellac can take layers of your nail with it when you peel it off, leading to thin and brittle nails.

Have patience and make a removal appointment instead. Your nails will thank you.

Use Foil Wraps

If you have a shellac removal appointment booked but have some chipping in the meantime, use nail foil wraps to protect your nails. The thin foil wraps seal down over the chipped polish, preventing snagging and additional peeling or tearing until you can get to your appointment.

Ask your nail tech for foil wrap recommendations to have on hand between appointments. Preventing more damage to the nails preserves their strength.

Moisturize Afterwards

Once your shellac is safely removed by a professional, be sure to moisturize and nourish your nails. The removal process and acetone solvents can leave nails feeling dry and brittle. Treat them to a hydrating nail oil or thick, rich moisturizing cream.

Massage into nails and cuticles several times a day while nails are bare. This returns moisture and suppleness so nails can grow out strong and healthy for your next shellac manicure. Some great natural oils are olive oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E oil, and coconut oil (works wonders! ).

Post-Shellac Nail Care

Take a Polish Break

After removing a shellac manicure, it’s important to give your nails some time to recover before applying polish again. Doing regular manicures too frequently can cause nails to become dry and brittle over time.

Experts recommend taking a nail polish break and letting your natural nails breathe for at least a few days after removing shellac. This gives the nails time to rehydrate and recover their strength.

Moisturize Frequently

Keep nails hydrated by applying nail oil or cream several times per day during your shellac break. Jojoba oil, vitamin E oil, and olive oil are great natural moisturizers. Massage the oil into the nail and cuticle area. This helps replenish moisture levels and prevents nails from becoming brittle.

For added nail nutrition, look for moisturizers containing key ingredients like vitamin C, biotin, or green tea extract.

Use a Strengthening Base Coat

When you do resume polishing, help fortify nails by starting with a strengthening base coat. Many base coats are formulated with ingredients like calcium, vitamins, and proteins designed to improve nail health. Using one under your polish adds an extra layer of protection.

Some popular strengthening base coat products include OPI Nail Envy, Sally Hansen Hard As Nails, and Essie Grow Stronger. Apply it neatly to clean nails before adding color.

Consider Biotin

Biotin is a B-complex vitamin that helps stimulate keratin production. Keratin is a key protein that makes up the nail structure. Many people take biotin supplements to grow stronger, healthier nails. The recommended daily dose is 2.5 mg. Look for a high-quality biotin supplement and be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new supplement routine.

While rare, high doses of biotin can sometimes interfere with medical lab tests.

In addition to biotin supplements, make sure your diet includes biotin-rich foods like eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, sweet potatoes, spinach, and avocados. Getting enough protein from sources like lean meat, dairy, beans, and lentils also supports strong, resilient nails.


While gel manicures like shellac are undeniably gorgeous, improper removal can damage the nail bed. With some TLC for your nails, you can restore strength and enjoy long-lasting polish applications without weakening your nails.

Give them a polish break, load up on moisture, and nourish them from within for the healthiest nails.

With the tips in this comprehensive guide, you can have salon-gorgeous nails that are actually stronger than ever. Take good care of your nails and they’ll take good care of you!

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