Shellac manicure (at home) with USpicy UV/LED Light

I am one of those unlucky people who have weak nails no matter what they do. I can get them to a point when they aren't paper thin by taking supplements and eating a super healthy diet, but they are still weak, split easily and chip after 1 -2 days when I paint them with nail polish. That's why I decided to give Shellac a go, when I was kindly sent the USpicy 24W UV & LED Lamp* to try out.

First of all, you should know that I  don't wear nail polish too often and when I do, I use '3 free' or '5 free' formulas. That's the reason why I picked Shellac, instead of cheaper gel manicure options. I am also very careful with things like UV lights etc, so I would only do this kind of manicure occasionally.

The USpicy lamp is a 2 in 1 LED/UV hybrid so it can be used on Shellac and other gel manicure systems. I won't be getting into too much detail about UV damage, but being a cautious person, I wear SPF50 on my hands when I use the light. Just in case :) 

Now, let's talk about the lamp I used. It cost £67.99 at the moment (RRP is £169.99) and it has 3 time settings: 20sec, 40sec, 60sec. It is a 24W lamp and it uses 40% less energy than conventional UV lamps. The manufacturer claims that the bulb life is 50 000 hours, which means that you will never have to replace it.  I like the design and I picked the white colour, because it looks more elegant. There is also a pink version available. 

According to the manufacturer USpicy UV Lamp is compatible with many gel polish brands including: Gelish Soak Off Series, Shellac UV Color Coat, Shellac Top coat, Shellac base coat-UV, OPI Gelcolor Nail Polish, Orly Gel FX, Red Carpet Led Gel Polish, Gelicious GEL Nail Polish, UV GEL Nail Polish, LED GEL Nail Polish. 

In the box, you get the lamp, an adapter and instructions and you have to buy your choice of gel polish to get started. I picked Shellac, because it is meant to be the best gel system on the market.

After doing some research and reading a lot about Shellac, I ordered their Base Coat, Top Coat and one Color Coat in shade Wildfire. ( I ordered from this seller) I also ordered some lint free alcohol soaked wipes (here) to get rid of the stickiness and finish off the manicure. I couldn't find the recommended 99% so I got 70% and they work fine. Apparently, the stronger the alcohol, the glossier the manicure will be. Mine was super glossy anyway.

I should also mention that you cannot buy Shellac from authorised retailers, unless you are a registered nail technician, so the only place a normal person like me can get it is ebay. It always comes with a risk, but the seller I got it from has good feedback and none of the negative comments they got refer to Shellac being fake. I am not even sure if there is fake Shellac on the market and I know that nail technicians buy it on ebay as well.


1. Apply SPF50 to your hands 30 minutes prior to your manicure.

2. Prep your nails - file them to make sure there is no rough edges, but NEVER file your nail bed! Push back and clean your cuticles and wipe your nails with one of the lint free wipes to get rid of any oil and dirt.

3. Shake your Base Coat vigorously. Apply a very thin layer to each nail, making sure not to get it allover your cuticles. The products are not meant to go on the skin. 

4. Cure the base coat under the lamp for 10 seconds. It should stay tacky to make the colour adhere.

5. Shake your Colour Coat vigorously, apply a very thin layer to each nail and cure under the light for 2 minutes.

6. Apply another thin layer of colour and cure for 2 minutes.

7. Shake you Top Coat vigorously, apply a thin layer and cure for 2 minutes.

8. There will be a sticky layer of gel left on your nails and you have to wipe it off with a lint free wipe soaked in 99% alcohol (I used 70%). Once you have done that, your manicure will be perfectly dry, hard and super glossy!

9. Repeat on your other hand. 

10. Apply cuticle oil to your nails every day.

Applying very thin layers of product is crucial to get a nice, even and long lasting finish. Shaking the bottles before each use is essential as well to make sure all the ingredients mix well together. Never apply the product onto the skin. If you do, make sure to clean it up, before curing the coat under the UV light.

To remove the manicure, I simply soaked my nails in nail polish remover and it came off in big pieces, just like the one that peeled off my index finger nail. Weird, but easy :) I am not sure if it's meant to come off like that.

Finished manicure. 
My other hand after 5 days

The photo above shows my manicure after 1 week. It started to chip on the tips and started to peel off my index finger nail. As someone who can't leave their nails alone, I had to peel it off completely. Same happened to both of my thumbs after 1 week. Apparently it is very common if you do Shellac at home or use a different lamp, like I did. Shellac is meant to be used with the CND 36W lamp. Also, I am not a nail technician, so I am not expecting to do it perfectly etc although, some people aren't happy with Shellac at all, even after getting it done in a salon. I think it depends on the nail technician and their skills, or your own skills if you do it at home. I really think that the problem is with applying too much product and to be honest, it is quite hard to apply a really thin coat, so I will just have to practice :) 

So, what is my verdict? Well... If I wasn't a 'picker' the manicure would probably last longer. I pick my nails constantly to keep them clean (it's a weird obsession) and normal nail polish only lasts on me for a day or two. With Shellac, I can actually have a perfect manicure for a full week, or longer. I am happy with that. I am sure I will get better at it and it will last longer the next time I do it. It isn't something I would do every week, but when I have a big event coming up, I want to have a perfect manicure and using Shellac with my USpicy lamp will be fab for that!

Have you tried Shellac or other gel manicure systems at home? 

*the lamp was sent to me free of charge, I bought the Shellac products myself. 

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