5 step Shellac hack PERFECTED using only 3 products! (2020 update)

It has officially been SIX years since I originally posted my Shellac hack, but it continues to be one of my very most popular (and most frequently Pinned) posts on my Pinterest. There's currently a lot of memes circulating on Instagram and other social media about how we're all going to look once this quarantine is over since we can't currently keep our regularly scheduled nail or lash fills or touchups on our hair or brows! I have a feeling your stylists, estheticians, and nail technicians are all going to be very busy once we all come out of this. HA!

So now seems like the perfect time to revisit the hack and refresh this post. I want to keep your nails looking fly while you click those remote buttons, take on a push-up challenge, or continue baking all the things. Plus it's just a really nice (inexpensive) moment of self care-which is so, so important right now. Keep reading for my 2020 UPDATE of my perfected Shellac hack.

shellac nails

Shellac hack at-home recipe

It took a few rounds of trial and error back in the day, but after revisiting the hack I truly believe in, I have a pretty perfected Shellac hack. Here's the recipe and everything you need to keep that at-home mani on point.

shellac manicure at home

What you need for the hack:

  1. Gelous nail gel – This is the KEY to the shellac hack!
  2. Any nail color – I used Essie Mint Candy Apple, but there's lots of fun nail inspo in this post. Also had AMAZING results with this!
  3. Any top coat – I LOVE Seche Vite Dry Fast

**BONUS: Gel polish remover tool – you'll need this ONLY if you have gel polish or dip on your nails currently that you need to remove prior to starting.

The 5 step hack

  • Step 1: 1 coat Gelous
  • Step 2: 1 coat nail polish
  • Step 3: 1 coat Gelous
  • Step 4: 1 coat nail polish
  • Step 5: 1 coat top coat

You're DONE!

shellac nail polish

Top tips for the perfect manicure

Tip #1

Trim and shape your nails before you start! I like cutting mine as short as possible (just personal preference) and then I use a nail file to make sure the edges are all smooth and cleaned up, and I even use the file to clean up cuticles and make my nail beds a tiny bit thinner on the sides!

And I find it sticks even better if you lightly file the top of each nail first! It sounds weird I know, but try it. Just a very light filing all over the top of each nail. After filing, wash your hands to ensure you're starting with a super clean base.

Tip #2

Try to keep your layers of Gelous and polish thin or at least thinnish, because you have to let each coat completely dry before moving on to the next. I try to wait 2-3 minutes between each coat, which is why I usually try to do activities like this Shellac hack after my girls are in bed for the night and I'm watching my favorite shows. If you're in a hurry (or doing it with kids) then you can probably get away with waiting about a minute between coats.

gelous nail gel coat

Tip #3

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Seche Vite Dry Fast. Do not skip this step! It really does dry super fast and also has great shine. I've read online to do another coat of Gelous over your top coat, but I tried it and honestly like it better with just the Seche Vite as your last layer. I totally think my nails last longer when this is my last layer.

essie mint candy apple nail polish

Tip #4

This nail polish remover is really mild, but still works super well! It worked to soak off my super grown-out Shellac nails, and takes off the Shellac hack combo in seconds! It's acetone-free and under $8, but it has THOUSANDS of 5-star reviews!

I used a brush from this set of makeup brushes to clean up the edges! This is one of the keys to making your at-home mani look as close to the salon as possible. I just put a little nail polish remover in a very small glass dish and dip an older (clean!) angled makeup brush (like an eyeliner brush) and dip the brush into the remover, and then “paint” off any excess where my polish ran outside the lines and it doesn't look as professional.

essie mint candy apple nail polish
Before cleaning up the edges!
nail polish remover
nail polish remover

Why I'm obsessed with this Shellac method

  • Long-lasting: It lasts 7 days with minimal to no chipping!
  • No Drilling: No drilling off your Shellac at the salon or wrapping your fingers in tin foil. What are you, leftovers? This comes right off with good old nail polish remover. Saves me a good 20 minutes skipping a soak off!
  • Cheap: It's super cheap! For less than 1 trip to the nail salon, you can buy everything you need to do this over and over again.
  • Easy to change: Change your color weekly. Who doesn't get sick of the same color after 2 weeks of Shellac?
  • No UV light needed: Many at home gel or Shellac systems require a UV or LED light. This method does not, making it super easy and super affordable.
shellac nail polish

Shellac hack FAQ's

  1. Does it really last? YES! I noticed some very tiny chips on the edges of my nails after a week or so, but you could only see them if you looked really, really closely. I didn't have any bubbling problems at all, whatsoever.
  2. Is this the same as Shellac? Nope, it's not. Real Shellac for sure lasts longer (a couple weeks for me) but this hack lasts me 7 solid days looking close to perfect.
  3. Were you just really careful for a week so that your nails wouldn't chip? HAHA! NO. I am actually pretty hard on my nails (especially with 3 kiddos!) and this hack took the abuse really well.
  4. Is this just as good as an at-home Shellac system? I'm not really sure because I've never tried one. If I do, I will come back and report!
  5. Is it hard to remove? Nope. Just some good old nail polish remover will do the trick. No biggie.
shellac nail polish at home manicure

But first, nails

I hope this updated Shellac hack helps you survive this time of self-quarantine and social distancing. If you try it out please tag me @mintarrow on social media so I can see-it will be like our very own Mint Arrow Virtual Nail Bar!

Corrine Stokoe

Corrine Stokoe is a blogger, podcaster and content creator behind the brand Mint Arrow. She and her husband Neil live in South Orange County with their 5 kids, she runs her blog and business with 7 team members, where they find the best daily deals and share favorite finds in fashion and beauty. They also run a podcast called Mint Arrow Messages. Mint Arrow has been featured in Forbes, Women's Wear Daily, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, AdWeek and Allure. Corrine is passionate about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ as often as she can and teaching others to use social media for good.

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Never Miss a Deal
Hi, I’m Corrine and it’s pretty simple. I think you deserve to buy the things you want at a price you can afford. Here you can find the best deals and steals on high end fashion, as well as beauty and wellness tutorials.


  1. Excited to try! My nails are finally growing strong and shellac ruins them! Glad to know they come off with nail polish!

  2. Hi Corrine–you once left a comment on my home tour a while back. That blogger changed her format and all the comments disappeared, so I couldn't reply. You have such a great blog here, and I am definitely going to try this shellac recipe!

    1. hey! thanks so much for coming back and commenting. i loved the pics of your new kitchen! it's beautiful! let me know what you think if you try the shellac hack 🙂

  3. This is genius! I love love love Seche Vite. It really is the best top coat ever. I just found your blog and love it! Let&#39;s be friends! <br /><br />{alaciahoodwinked.blogspot.com}

    1. alacia, for sure! i love new blogger friends. thanks for stopping by to say hello! and let me know if you try the hack what you think!

  4. So bummed! Followed the steps and did this on Friday and it started chipping badly two days later. Wondering if I did something wrong? One of my nails totally peeled off. Ugh! Have you had any issues in your subsequent trials of this? LOVE your blog!

    1. gina, i am so sorry to hear this didn&#39;t work out for you! i have been using this formula for weeks and i have noticed that they peel, but not for at least 5-7 days! mine last for a week usually. sometimes i get a tiny chip on an edge of a nail before the 5 day mark, but usually they look great for a week. make sure your nails are super clean, no residue from former shellac or nail polish

    2. I have been using a similar method since october (minus the Hard as Nails)… my nails would look spectacular for a day or 2, then peel or chip. I was told to try rubbing alcohol on my nails (to remove all oils). It has helped immensely! Also make sure you run the polishes along the tips of your nails to seal your hard work. I am a healthcare professional and my hands take a beating, but my

  5. My husband says I am obsessed because I have been painting my nails non-stop (ish) since I came across this tutorial. It&#39;s just fun and relaxing. I love it, thanks. When I purchased Seche Vite, it was buy one get one free. But instead of giving me another Seche Vite, the lady who checked me out grabbed a Seche Clear instead, which is the base coat? My Target and Walmart didn&#39;t carry Hard

    1. ha ha! ashley, i am obsessed too. it&#39;s okay. we can be obsessed together 😉 and i am so glad this is working out for you!! totally agree that clean, dry, filed nails make this last the longest. thanks so much for commenting!

  6. I have been doing this for YEARS with the hard as wraps. It changed my life in college. and ive been using &quot;out the door&quot; top coat from sally. Im excited to try the gel coat and add that to the mix! Thanks for the tip!

  7. I have tried so many as found one that worked well but I&#39;m going to try this one today to see if works even better.

  8. I immediately went to Sally Beauty after reading this. (I may have issues with nail polish. And patience. haha!) Thanks so much for sharing! I had great results. I shared a link to this post on my blog, along with photos of my 7 day test! <br />www.routinebeauty.com

    1. rachel, thanks for commenting! i am so glad it worked out for you. i would love to see your blog post, but the link you left is not working? will you link again, please? 🙂

  9. I get just as good results 5-7 days with minor chipping with Stickey base coat by Creative, 2 coats of polish, and the Seche Vite. And that&#39;s with washing dishes and showering. If anyone is getting chips remember you must prep your bare nail -alcohol or acetone. They need to be dry and ashy looking. They will not get damaged so don&#39;t worry. Former nail tech sharing my trade secrets.

  10. Do you put think layers of each polish on? From your pics it looks like your nails are thicker than what mine look like after having painted the way you said. Please let me know. And by the way I love this idea and hope that it lasts as long as said, because I love having my nails polished even with having my little ones running around. 🙂

    1. daphne i actually honestly put a pretty thin layer on each time. since i do two layers total it always ends up being the perfect amount of coverage. hope that helps!!

  11. It’s so thick!
    I think one coat of gelous is enough.
    And fast dry make polish chips faster, you know. It’s chemistry.

    Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear — lasts on me 10 days.

  12. Awesome! I have all these products…except the Essie nail color…in my bathroom cabinet! I have been using the gelous for awhile and it still would chip for me. I think the key was the extra coat in between the color. I will try that next time!

  13. I wonder how would this would work wig path the Vinylux polish? It lasts 7 days anyways but with the extra coats, would it last longer?

  14. so mine peeled off too, but i think i will try again using the advice others have given about the alcohol/acetone first. i feel like i have had trouble getting things to stick to my nails well. love the idea though, yay for round 2!

    1. katie i’m sorry yours peeled off! definitely try it again and maybe skip hard as wraps. i think that has helped a lot of people too! let me know how it goes!!

  15. This is the best thing I have ever found! Just did it for the second time and absolutely love it! Thanks for sharing!

  16. I tend to only do soak off gel polish manicures. Being that my bright color chipped right in between appointments, I am going to give this a try. I will let you know how it goes. I am pretty particular about my nails and keeping them neat. Let’s see how this works… 🙂

  17. Tip…omit the hard as wraps and do two coats of gelous instead. Also for those of you saying it is pooling it is probably because you did not buff your nails first. Lightly buff your nails then apply two coats of gelous and continue with her instructions.

  18. Do you clean your nail with alcohol before applying all the coats? It didn’t work for me. But maybe I didn’t wait until was completely dry before applying the next coat…

    1. hey ruth, so sorry to hear you had trouble. i clean my nails with nail polish remover before, but i think the best thing to do on round 2 is to skip hard as nails. i’ve heard so many people say they have success after omitting that step. i hope that helps!! 😀

  19. Corrine, I finally got around to trying your shellac hack and it worked like a charm. I did what you mentioned that your friend did : 1 coat Gelous , 2 coats nail color, 1 coat Gelous, 1 coat Seche Vite. One week later my nails still look pretty darn good. They survived a newborn( let me tell you, it was no easy task finding time to paint these nails in the first place!), daily dishwashing, household chores, and normal wear and tear! Thanks! Keep the fab posts coming :~)

  20. Love this idea, it is too time consuming and a waste of my money to go to my nail salon every 2-4 weeks! I have had ‘Hard as Wraps’ for a while, never quite worked how I’d always imagined. I am trying this, although instead of Gelous, I’m trying my bottle of Revlon clear gel coat, w top coat for their gel color polish. I will let you know how it works out. Thanks!

  21. I just tried this and my nails look great. I skipped the hard as wraps step. A few nails gouged after about an hour, what would have caused this? Too thick of an application?

    1. hey ashley! so sorry about that. it probably was just that you didn’t let them completely dry. i only do the shellac hack after my little one is in bed and i know i have a lot of time to just sit and let them dry and watch netflix or something. otherwise they definitely can get marked up pretty easily before they’re fully dry :/

  22. i just did an hour ago,and I love love love it! I’m so excited to show my nails off tomorrow,also feels good knowing I did not spend $30 to get them done! Thank you so much for posting this!!!!! You rock!
    P.s the hubby is so glad you saved him money ;p

  23. I can not find the gelous nail gel. The link in your post to WalMart no longer works. I’m wondering if you have any other suggestion on where I can find it.


    1. Hey Lori! Thanks for letting us know. We found it in stock HERE but will keep an eye out for other places to get it in stock too 🙂 -Kourtney

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