Can You Do Shellac On Short Nails?

Close-up of the hands of a qualified manicurist filing the nails of a young woman with a white buffer in a trendy nail salon
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Have you ever tried gel nails? Aren’t they great because they are durable and long-lasting? Yet, you also have to remember that they can be quite difficult to remove.

Regular nail polish on short nails is a great option for those who like to add color but easily remove them if they needed to. But, they aren’t as durable and long-lasting as gel nails.

The great news is there are shellac nails that combine the benefits of the two. The question now is can you do shellac on short nails? Many people believe that having long nails is a requirement for shellac nails. But is this true?

The good news is that you can certainly use shellac even if you have short nails. So why do some people think that shellac requires you to have long nails?

In this article, we’ll take a close look at shellac and short nails.


What Is Shellac?

Before you decide to apply shellac on your nails, you should first know what it is. To put it simply, shellac is a nail polish that combines gel polish with traditional nail polish.

With the two combined, you can expect that shellac polish is more resistant to chipping. They are more durable than traditional nail polishes too.

One of the best things about shellac is that you can easily remove it. Gel polishes are known to be difficult to remove and if it is not done correctly, then you can even ruin your nails due to the improper removal.

One of the best things about shellac is that you can easily remove it. Gel polishes are known to be difficult to remove and if it is not done correctly, then you can even ruin your nails due to the improper removal.

With shellac, you don’t have to soak your nails for a very long time in chemicals. It can easily be removed just like traditional nail polish.

Shellac isn’t as thick as gel and you can’t use it to add length to your nails. It can produce gel-like results due to its high shine and great durability. However, it is thinner than gel polish, so it may not be as durable.

Some people may question the safety of shellac nails as it is a somewhat new technique. This product is safe when applied to the nails.

It may be less damaging as compared to acrylic or gel especially when it is time to remove them.

Can You Do Shellac On Short Nails?

There is a popular belief that you need long nails in order to use shellac. However, this isn’t really true because you can certainly do shellac on short nails.

So why do people think that you need long nails to do shellac on them?

When we talk about gels or acrylics, we most probably picture longer nails. These nail products can help you achieve longer nails even if you have short nails.

However, shellac isn’t like your gel or acrylic which could extend the length of the nails with nail tips, forms, etc.

To be able to enjoy longer nails and the benefits of the shellac, you have to naturally grow your nails longer. Who wants to wait for that!?

To be able to enjoy longer nails and the benefits of the shellac, you have to naturally grow your nails longer. Who wants to wait for that!?

Although shellac looks great on long nails, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used on short nails. The only requirement for using shellac nails is that it is healthy.

You can apply shellac on nails of any length.

Some people may find it more challenging to use shellac on very short nails simply because of the application. With very short nails, it is possible to get the product on the skin, which can lead to problems with adherence.

However, with experience, nail technicians can work around that and work carefully to prevent the product from getting into the skin.

Preparing Your Nails For Shellac

Do you want to put shellac on your nails? Before you do that, you must first properly prepare your nails.

Here are the things you should do.

  • Remove any previous nail polish or nail product on your nails.
  • Trim or shape your nails. If you want to cut your nails shorter or just shape them, you can do so after removing the nail polish.
  • Push back your cuticles or cut them away. Most will advise you to just push your cuticles because cutting them could open up the skin and could lead to infection. Also, make sure that your hands are clean.
  • Lightly file your nails.
  • Shellac is quite similar in application to gel. The first thing to do is to add a base coat but make sure that you don’t touch the skin. Leave a gap between the nail edges and the polish.
  • The base coat needs to be cured under a UV or LED nail lamp. Usually, it is set at two minutes.
  • After curing the base coat, you can now apply the color coat of the shellac. You need to cure each layer under UV light. Usually, two layers of the color coat are enough.
  • Finally, add the top coat and then let it cure under the UV lamp again.

Shellac On Acrylic Nails

Did you know that Shellac isn’t just applied to natural nails? Shellac can be applied over your acrylic nails, as well too. This is a good idea because it can help strengthen acrylic nails. You can enjoy your acrylic nails for a longer time before needing to get a set of new ones.

There are mixed views as to whether it is worth the money to get shellac over acrylic nails. Although there isn’t still clear evidence that applying shellac on acrylic nails extends its life, there are some who simply like to do it.

How To Prolong Your Shellac Nails

Usually, shellac nails last for about 2-3 weeks without chipping. However, it will depend on how well you take care of your nails.

Shellac nails can certainly last even if you do your day-to-day activities. However, it is when you start to clean around the house that makes the shellac nails more susceptible to damage.

Here are a few tips to help make sure your shellac nails last.

1. Protect Your Nails

One of the things you could do to help make sure that your shellac nails last is to protect them whenever you are cleaning or handling chemicals. Whenever you wash the dishes or do some gardening, you should wear some gloves to protect your shellac nails.

Using your gloves will greatly help when you are handling cleaning agents or chemicals. Bleach is a common cleaning agent and it can certainly cause your shellac nails to chip and crack as well.

2. Moisturize Your Skin

Although you are protecting your shellac nails from damage, you also have to consider your skin and hands. Using a moisturizer can certainly help extend the life of your shellac nails.

Hand cream doesn’t only help your skin but your cuticles too. Healthy cuticles would mean healthier nails that grow. Additionally, the moisture will also help prevent the shellac from flaking off due to severe dryness.

3. Maintain Your Shellac

Another way to prolong your shellac is to make sure that you do proper maintenance to it. You could add a clear top coat polish to the shellac every week to make sure that there is a protective top layer.

With that, you can prevent the damage brought about by the environment. You can also prevent moisture to lessen the risk of damaging the shellac nails by starting to chip on the edges.

Depending on how fast your nails grow, you may see that there is an area that isn’t covered with the shellac. Once this happens, you should now think about removing the shellac. Make sure to do it correctly to avoid damage to your nails.

4. Don’t File Nails With Shellac

When your nails feel like they are too long, you might have the urge to file the nails to shorten the length. Although you can usually file nails with regular nail polish on them, you shouldn’t do that when you uses shellac.

If you try, you may still file your nails with Shellac and get it into the length that you wish to have. However, filing it will open the seal that protects the color coat.

When the protective seal is compromised, you can expose the shellac to moisture. That could help loosen the shellac and could cause it to peel off or chip. Filling your nails with shellac will just lead to disappointing results so it would be best to just avoid it.

If you really want to file your nails that have shellac on them, it would be best to repaint them after filing them. If you don’t want to re-paint your nails then at least use a top coat so that you can seal it again. That will greatly help prevent moisture from getting into it and causing premature cracking or chipping.


You can absolutely use shellac nail finish on short nails, medium nails, or long nails. It’s a great system that is pretty easy to apply, beautiful, and durable.

Shellac is what your nails have been waiting for!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).