Product Review: Shellac / Gel Manicure for Travel

I’ve been hearing all the hype about shellac / gel manicures, just as you probably have.

When I found out that I would be embarking on two trips in a short space of time it felt like the perfect opportunity to give it a go and see for myself.

Photo Credit:

I’m pretty picky about my nails.  Since I was going to be traveling and had varying appointments, I was intrigued to see how the shellac would hold up. 


My Usual Routine:

I try to do a mani plus polish once a week and typically use Essie or Butter London.  When I’m in the mood, I’ll go to my local salon and pay $20 + tip for both a mani & pedi.  The salon is young, hip, includes a message chair, and is a great bang for your buck. 

Life Span:

  • The hype says that it lasts anywhere from 2 to 3 weeks. 
  • In my case, it’s been 17 days and the product is still going strong. 
  • The hype also says that it won’t chip, nick, peel, or crack.  I have found all of these to be 100% true.
  • What stands out to me is not the product, it’s actually the nail.  Your nails will not look pristine for 2 – 3 weeks.  I found myself tending to my nails within the life span of the shellac.  In 17 days, I have trimmed my cuticle twice and actually trimmed my nails once because (for me) they were getting too long.  I could actually continue the manicure closer to the 3 week mark, but my healthy nails have grown so fast, the entire quick (half-moon) is completely exposed. 

Day 1

Day 8

Day 17


  • Pretty good selection of colors to choose from. 
  • I picked a beautiful translucent champagne color.  It has a gorgeous golden shimmer when the sunlight hits it and it stretched out the life of my mani.
  • As your nails grow and more of the quick is revealed, a more opaque color like red is going to make your nail growth really obvious. 


  • I did some digging and found that the national going rate is about $35.
  • I live in West Los Angeles and I paid a steep $43 + tip.   


  • The shellac is applied in 4 layers and every layer is dried by a low wattage UV light.  My manicure was 100% dry before I even got out of the manicurist’s chair!  I typically have zero patience for dry time and this was ideal since I still had to pack and finish up trip related errands. 
  • Also, it’s hypoallergenic and 3-free (containing no formaldehyde, toluene or DBP.)


  • I could see how this would work well for travel.  However, If I’m going to pay top dollar, I would rather not have to tend to the nails at all.
  • Shellac will stay perfect as you’re on the go.  I haven’t babied my hands.  In fact I’m still banging away on the computer and am quite hands on with tasks. 
  • While traveling, my tips are at the ready for appointments, special occasions, and just an overall polished look.
  • I would bring a small mani kit just to tidy things up along the way.  Shellac will save you from having to bring extra polish for touch ups and from having to bring polish remover and pads – a major plus for prized toiletry real estate!

Would I do it again?

I have mixed feelings.  I loved that it dried instantly and that the product held up perfectly for such a good amount of time.  However, $43 + tip for a mani alone is too steep to do on a regular basis, especially since I did a bit of maintenance along the way.  If I find a manicurist that would do a quality job closer to $30, I’d consider doing this before every major trip.

Have you tried it?  I’d love to hear your experience with shellac / gel manicures on the go.

Disclaimer: I paid for this manicure.  This post is not sponsored.


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

6 thoughts on “Product Review: Shellac / Gel Manicure for Travel

  1. Cassie | Ever In Transit November 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm Reply

    Argh, my comment just disappeared when I hit post! Delete this if it’s a duplicate 🙂

    I’ve had the same experience with Shellac. I looked great for about 10 days of hard use of my hands but after that the regrowth was really noticiable. It was expensive and I had to pay to have it removed. So in the future I’ll only do it for a very special occasion within the first week or so of the trip.

    • Meghan's Guilty Pleasures Travel Blog November 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm Reply

      omg…. I hate when comments disappear and btw, no it didn’t duplicate!

      I totally agree with you. The regrowth and removal were my biggest cons…

  2. Travel Spirit January 30, 2013 at 3:31 am Reply

    Meghan – I used to get acrylic nails for years and recently switched to shellac. Because of traveling for six weeks, and trying out living social or groupon deals, I’ve been to about five different manicurists. Only two of them have held up at least 2 -3 weeks, the rest looked bad before 2 weeks. I haven’t tried gel yet. ~Sherry~

    • Meghan's Guilty Pleasures Travel Blog January 30, 2013 at 8:31 am Reply

      Interesting, I’ve never tried acrylic. It’s nice to feel pulled together, but realistic about time especially while traveling. Talk about time management! I say, it’s all about the details & having a mani – especially one that’s going to last – makes you feel a bit more luxe.

      • rtwgirl March 4, 2013 at 12:11 am

        I love gel nails/Shellac. Bellacures is $50 for gel nails. Went to the Larchmont one and they are looking fabulous after a week. I’ve had ones for as low as $30 and 35 but the colours aren’t as good, they chip or does it last so long. I take vitamins for hair and nails so I think my mani would last linger but my nails grow too fast. The key for the manicure lasting is not having any oil or moisturizer on the nail when it gets polished. One manicurist massaged my hand sans lotion. My friend bought the home kit. Thinking about it bc I want my nails to look good all the time!

      • Meghan's Guilty Pleasures Travel Blog March 4, 2013 at 8:20 am

        Interesting, thanks for your feedback RTWGirl. I’ve been curious about the home kits too. Wonder if it’s just gimmicky? If you try it, let me know!

Let me know what your thoughts are!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: