SNS vs. Shellac

Over the past few years, more and more people are opting for Shellac or SNS nails. After trying out both products myself, I can finally identify the differences between both.

Shellac vs SNS

via CND and SNS

I first starting using Shellac back in 2012 when I bought my own equipment and did it myself from home. My favourite brands were CND and Red Carpet. Shellac is basically a mixture of gel and nail polish. It doesn’t extend your nail like gel nails do, but it does strengthen it. It’s less damaging to the nails than gel or acrylics. Shellac is the process of curing the nail polish under a LED lamp, which means that you don’t need to wait for it to dry! Every girl’s dream right? When I first discovered it, I thought it was the best thing ever. It didn’t chip as fast as normal nail polish and I loved how I could just simply use alcohol wipes every now and then to make it glossy again.


The one thing I loved about Shellac was that I could easily do it from home. I found a lamp on ebay for about $40 AUD, some CND nail polishes for approximately $20 AUD each and alcohol wipes from my local pharmacy. It was incredibly convenient for times when I didn’t want to leave the house to get my nails done. For those that don’t have the equipment, Shellac is very affordable at most salons, ranging from $25AUD to $35AUD. In the last year, I started going to a Salon to get it done because it lasted longer and there was also a larger range of colours to choose from.

A few downsides to Shellac was that I often found that it would chip off at the tip of my nail randomly. It didn’t affect the rest of the nail and didn’t peel off, but a chipped nail is not a good look! Another thing that I didn’t like about Shellac was how it made my nail bend in at both sides as it grew out, and so the tip of my nail was very skinny and narrow. Sometimes it bent so much that my nail under neath would break off. I found that for my nails to last longer with Shellac, I had to keep my nails short.

For this reason, I decided to go and try SNS nails, Signature Nail Systems. Not all salons offer this product as the product itself is fairly expensive. The prices range from $45 AUD to $55 AUD for a full colour. SNS differs from Shellac because no liquid or LED lamp is needed. It’s the process of dipping your nail into the coloured powder and then setting it with a liquid seal (I won’t go into the whole process but that basically sums it up).


I am now totally obsessed with SNS nails. My nails never chip, the colour doesn’t change and I’m able to grow and strengthen my nail. There’s a huge range of colours to choose from, just like Shellac. With SNS, I don’t get the problem of my nails bending in on both sides; the shape of my nails will stay the same until my next appointment. The picture above is my actual nails, no tips added on.

The disadvantage of SNS is the price. It is pricier than Shellac, and is a relatively longer process. Spending an extra $10 AUD to $15 AUD every appointment does add up, but trust me, it’s all worthwhile in the end. Now that I’ve experienced the benefits of SNS, I can’t go back to Shellac.

I definitely recommend SNS for those who are after long lasting nails, and for those who have the same issue as me with the nails bending in on both sides as it grows longer. But if you’re someone who likes to keep their nails short anyway, then Shellac will do the job.

***UPDATE: Keep watching this space over the next few weeks, I’ll be uploading a video of my experience with SNS and the overall process for all of you to see.

Comment below if you have tried SNS or Shellac, and let me know which one you prefer. 

163 thoughts on “SNS vs. Shellac

    1. Hi Joulia,

      I’m from Adelaide so wouldn’t know anything about Sydney, but I hope someone else here can help you out! 🙂

    2. I’ve been going to the Nail Boulevard place in Parramatta Westfields lately, top floor on the way to the food court. They do a really nice job and my SNS nails look lovely. Was my first time getting SNS and so far I’m impressed 🙂

    3. I’m in the SE part of the USA. This stuff, SNS, has ruined my own nails, butnit may be that they were not doing it correctly, as my nails were buffed down each and every time! I was promised my nails would be in the same shape when I take them off for the summer. They were paper thin, and badly damaged with white spots on my nails. It took me over six months to recuperate my nails. I also wore the coating, for as long as I could, so the amount my nails had to grow the damage out would be minimal. The problem in doing this was that my nails became top heavy. So top heavy that if I bumped into anything my nails would hurt terribly so. Perhaps, if they were not buffed, it would be different! I can’t recommend SNS based on the problems I had to endure.

  1. I opted for sons because of the risk of melanoma from the uv light. Was thrilled with it. But today I went to a different salon and right at the end, produced the uv lamp, I said ‘No, sns doesn’t require this lamp.’ The woman then said it is needed to set the gel. After a bit of a discussion, I had to use the uv lamp and then I was charged $55. I won’t go back there. Be sure before you start that they use natural dry, it doesn’t take long to dry with the little fans.

    1. Hi Rose, I have had that experience as well and the clear top coat chips off. They are using gel (shellac) as the top coat instead of the SNS topcoat. I always check with the salon first to make sure they use SNS topcoat and not a gel topcoat

    1. I agree have used Sns for 6 months. My nails are a mess breaking and paper thin. It will take 6 months to get them back to normal again. Never again for me too!

    2. Now be too, my nails were so long and I started doing the sns and I noticed each time they got thinner and thinner till they broke even with the SNS I n they bent and broke. It ruined my nails

    3. SNS wrecked mine also. I was hoping that the touting of “the healthiest process ever” was true but after reading on line I found that my nail technician was doing it incorrectly. First if all just because the top layers are loose does not mean you can pry them off. DAMAGE! After soaking in acetone TOXIC! They still used the drill to get the top layer off. DAMAGE! Because I love the long lasting color and it helps my natural nails grow which they wouldn’t do before, because of the manual type of work I do, I’m still opting for SNS, I just have to find that nail technician that knows what’s she’s doing.

  2. My first sns nails were done today. Trying sns as I’m allergic to acrylic powder and I love having my nails look nice. I’m super impressed with them. I have had the french manicure done today but next time will try a colour. My own nails are super thin from lots of heart medications and need protecting, fingers crossed this will be the answer I’m looking for.

  3. I’ve been a shellac user for years and was convinced to try SNS for the first time yesterday
    I was really disappointed that for the first time in my life my nail bed was roughed up with a tool before the base coat was applied. Is this normal practice or have I gone to a bad salon?
    I’m so worried my nails underneath will be ruined now 🙁

    1. Would really like to hear a response to this if anyone knows the answer as I had sns done yesterday unaware that they would use a nail drill tool on my natural nail. I’m really worried that this will ruin my nails having had weakened nails from having acrylic nails done once were they do the same things. SNS looks like it’s the same as acrylic nails. I really just want a more natural way to do my nails.

  4. Read the MSDS of SNS Gel Base (SN09096) and Nail Glue (SN09094). It seems like a false advertisement from SNS saying its product has vitamin E and calcium which nourish the nail plate.

    “Gel Base with Vitamin E & Calcium” only has less than 0.001% of vitamin E and calcium, and horrifyingly 98% of its weight is “Cyanoacrylate” – the main ingredient of Krazy Glue.

    The same with “Nail Glue with Calcium”, calcium consists only 0.001% of its weight, and 98% is Cyanoacrylate a.k.a superglue.

    Just want you guys to be informed about the products used and applied to your nails.

  5. I went from gel nails to SNS. I love the difference
    My mails are growimg , shiny
    I have a wide variety of colors . The cost is irrelevant since I don’t have to go as
    often . 5 stars . I go to KE Nails on Boston Post Rd. in Waterford , Ct . They are great !!!

  6. I have had SNS done for the first time today! I’m excited to see how i like it, i was stuck in a vicious cycle of acrylic to grow my nails, taking my own over grown out acrylic off with full intentions of going in and have shellac put over my real lengthy nail, biting them off due to being so weak and brittle and hooking onto everything, to going back to have more acrylic to start the whole growing process again, THIS HAS BEEN FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS! Today i was due my first acrylic refill, (usually go two or three refills to get to the real nail to the length i want) but this time i had my acrylic taken off and SNS put on, they’re short, but they will grow ad hopefully not totally ruin my nail in the mean time!

  7. I usually love SNS but i recently went somewhere different to where i usually go. After 2 weeks my nails are still looking great but I’m concerned as my left index finger is feeling odd..but just in the last 2days. At first it was tingling & a heavy feeling & didn’t think much of it. It kinda feels numb under my nail bed. Feels like I’ve had an elastic band around the end of my finger… Which obviously i have not! I was more than a little concerned so i cut the nail down & in the process of getting the rest of it of. This has never happened before. Has anyone had a similar experience.?

  8. I have had SNS twice now. I like them except for the fact that if I wack my finger into something the polish cracks! I wont be getting them again.

  9. I had sns manicure yesterday and I was surprised they used a drill on my natural nail. Are they supposed to do that? I had acrylic nails done once and they did that and it ruined my nails made them brittle and uneven top so when normal nail varnish was put on the nail it looked terrible. I had to wait for them to grow out and get strong again. Will this happen with sns? Can you do sns without the nail drill being used on your natural nail?

  10. Just had my SNS colour soaked off after using this product for approx. 4 months – my nails are so weak and thin the nail bed is almost exposed in places – absolutely dreadful will never use it again – is going to takes months for them to grow out and recover. Your nails may feel strong with it on but its a falsehood that it’s doing your nails any good, all the filing and soaking wrecks your natural nails.

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