4 Reasons Your Shellac Looks Dull (and How to Fix It)




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When you spend time and money getting the perfect manicure, it can be disheartening when it quickly becomes dull. Although dulling can happen over time, it is not supposed to happen shortly after having your shellac done. So, Whats makes your shellac look dull? What can you do to fix it?

Your shellac can look dull if the curing process using the UV light was not long enough. Other common factors include a thick topcoat, the wrong cleanser was used, oil residue dust, or buffing the topcoat. Thankfully, it can be fixed with a few simple techniques.

In this article, I will discuss the reasons why your shellac looks dull in detail. I will then delve into some techniques that can help to increase your nails’ shine again. It may be necessary to visit the salon again if these techniques don’t restore shine. 

Reasons Your Shellac Looks Dull

Shellac manicures are sought after because of the beauty and shine that they add to your nails. The process is technical and if done incorrectly, can lead to dullness. 

When they become dull, they lose their sheen and have a less flattering appearance. Here are some of the main causes of a dull shellac.

The Curing Process Is Flawed

This involves multiple steps and just a small issue with the curing technique or the UV light used can lead to a dull shellac. I am going to discuss these potential issues in detail. 

The Topcoat Is Too Thick

There can be a few reasons for the shellac topcoat being too thick. One of these is when the product thickens. This is something that happens when the lid is not closed properly or the bottle is left without the lid on it for long periods. 

Thus, topcoats that have been exposed to air tend to thicken. It is best to use a new bottle in this instance. 

Another reason for a topcoat that is too thick is when it is applied that way. This means either too many coats were applied or the previous coat was not left long enough to dry properly before another coat was applied

CND Shellac Gel Nail Polish ORIGINAL Top Coat, Ultra Shine Scratch Resistant Final Step Protective Longwear with No Nail Damage, 0.50 fl oz

The Curing Time Was Insufficient

For the perfect, shiny look, shellac nails need to be cured properly. When they become dull, it could be owed to insufficient curing time. This means the product did not dry properly and therefore did not set. The shellac then becomes exposed to dust and other environmental exposures which can make it appear dull.

Placing the hand incorrectly into the UV lamp can also lead to improper curing and dull nails.

The UV Light Is Flawed

There may actually be a problem with the UV lamp. It is important to replace the lights regularly and ask your nail technician how frequently the lamp is maintained. Like all things, these need to be replaced from time to time.

Oil Residue or Dust Exposure

Like nail polish or gel manicures, dust exposure or oil residue can make the shellac look dull. That’s because it combats the shine in the product. The process of doing shellac is a delicate one.

The period that nails are at risk is when the topcoat has not been applied yet. The topcoat will not set well once the nails are exposed to dust or oil residue from a touch. This can lead to a dull appearance.

Incorrect Filing or Excessive Buffing

When you paint a surface, you need to sand it down first so that the area to be painted is rough. This ensures that the paint can grip onto the surface leading to a beautiful finish. It is the same with a shellac manicure. 

For a shiny appearance, the nail technician needs to create a rough surface on the nails using a nail file. There is a fine balance here though, filling too excessively can weaken nails. This will compromise the outcome.

Nail File 12 PCS Professional Reusable 100/180 Grit Double Sides Washable Nail File Manicure Tools for Poly Nail Extension Gel and Acrylic Nails Tools Suit for Home Salon

Finally, the topcoat should not be buffed since it was made to be shiny. Buffing can lead to a duller appearance.

Incorrect Cleanser

Okay, what exactly is a cleanser? I’m talking about a gel cleanser that is used during the shellac process. Gel cleansers are used to clean any oils and moisture found on your nail plates before applying your gel polish to promote better adhesion.

If the nail technician uses other products like acetone or nail polish remover instead, the shine of the shellac will be compromised. A gel cleanser is only to be used for products that look dull after the curing process.

How Do You Fix Discolored Shellac Nails?

So, maybe you’re a victim of dull shellac. What can you do about it? I have you covered, try these techniques to restore color and shine to your shellac.

Restoring Shine

If you want to restore shine to your shellac then applying a new topcoat could do the trick. Before doing this, try curing the nails for a few seconds longer. If that does not help then lightly buff the top surface. Afterward, apply a very thin layer of top coat and cure the nails again.

This process can also be repeated every week to restore the top coat that has been exposed to daily activities 

OPI Top Coat, Protective High Gloss Shine Nail Polish Top Coat, 0.5 fl oz

Restoring Color

Dullness isn’t the only issue. Discoloration can also happen with shellac nails. Here are a few things that you can do to restore that shiny color.

Use Baking Soda or Lemon Juice

Both are natural bleaching and cleaning agents that also help to remove dirt and stains. Either put some lemon juice or baking soda in a bowl of water – you don’t need both. 

Then, soak your nails in the solution for up to 10 minutes. Then, you can wash your hands with soap and warm water and apply moisturizer.

Use Hairspray

This works to remove dull surfaces and restore color. Simply place your hands on a towel, then spray your nails generously with hairspray. Use an ear swab to wipe off the residue. This should help to remove stains or dullness.

L'Oreal Paris Advanced Hairstyle Lock It Bold Control Hairspray 8.25 Ounce

Try Tea Tree Oil

This is great for adding moisture to the nails. Keeping the nails moisturized post-manicure can help. It is important to avoid exposure to oil during the process, however. Just soak your hands in some tea tree oil for about 10 minutes. This should help with shellac discoloration.

Handcraft Tea Tree Essential Oil - 100% Pure and Natural - Premium Therapeutic Grade with Premium Glass Dropper - Huge 4 fl. Oz

In Conclusion

If you find yourself with dull shellac, don’t be discouraged. Applying a new topcoat is usually enough to do the trick. If none of the tips that I discussed help, then the technique that the nail technician used could be flawed. It is worth taking a trip to the salon to assess whether your shellac can be restored or if a new set is in order.

Here you can read how often you should get shellac.


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