By Catherine Copeland

There are many differences between a traditional manicure and a Shellac gel manicure. Released to the public in 2010, Shellac manicures have grown in popularity in recent years. Take a look at the differences between the two types of manicures to decide which treatment is best for you the next time you're at the nail salon.

Beautician filing female clients nails at spa beauty salon
credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/GettyImages
Traditional vs. Shellac Gel Manicure

Shellac Gel Manicure

Shellac manicures, which were created by Creative Nail Design Inc., are a long-lasting alternative to traditional manicures. The idea behind a Shellac manicure is that the hybrid gel nail has the durability of an acrylic nail but will not damage the actual nail bed. Additionally, the nail color will last longer than regular fingernail polish, typically about 14 days, and the shield that the hybrid gel creates allows weak, brittle nails to grow strong.

Basic Manicure

In contrast, a basic manicure involves several steps and is finished by the application of a regular nail polish to the fingernails. First, your nail technician will shape the fingernails using files and other tools and then soak your fingertips in warm water. After the soak, you'll have your cuticles trimmed or pushed back. You might also get a hand and fingernail massage with hand cream, with any excess cream wiped off with a towel. At this point, you'll have a base coat of nail polish applied, followed by your nail color of choice and perhaps a top coat. Nail polish will last for a few days without chipping under normal circumstances.

French Manicure

A French manicure requires the same steps as a basic manicure, but the decorative element on the finished nails is different. After shaping the nails with files and other tools and trimming the cuticles, your nail technician will apply the French manicure design. Typically, you'll have a clear or sheer pink base coat applied to the nail, then the very tip of the nail painted a flat white color. French manicures look elegant and can last several days.

Acrylic Manicure

Another traditional manicure option is an acrylic manicure. With this manicure, your technician will place acrylic nails on the whole of your fingernails. Acrylics come in various colors, as well as in French manicures. Acrylic nails are durable, typically lasting four to six weeks before they need to be filled. However, the downside to acrylic manicures is they can be painful to remove, and they do significant damage to the natural fingernail.