Shellac vs Gel: Difference and Comparison

 Shellac is a natural polymer and has a resemblance to a synthetic polymer. It is also considered a natural form of plastic. It is obtained from the female lac bug growing on trees.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Shellac is a hybrid nail polish made of part nail polish and part gel, whereas gel nail polish is made of pure gel.
  2. Shellac nails have a natural, glossy finish and are less durable than gel nails, which are thicker and more resistant to chipping.
  3. Gel nail polish requires a UV or LED lamp for curing, while shellac can be cured using a UV lamp or air drying.

Shellac vs Gel

Shellac is a natural polymer that is made from tree bark shavings where female bugs grow. It gives a glossy and shiny finish. A gel is a semi-solid colloidal system where the liquid is dispersed in a solid substance. It is used for absorbing and as a drying agent.

Shellac vs Gel

The raw shellac, which is obtained from trees containing bark shavings and bugs, is heated in long socks like canvas, liquefies the shellac, and percolates from the canvas, leaving behind the dead bugs and remains of bark.

It looks solid but has liquid-like properties. Its structure shows the molecules of solid having a cross-linking, three-dimensional structure with liquid.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonShellacGel
DefinitionIt is a natural polymer that is a mixture of resin, wax, and color components.It is a three-dimensional, semi-solid colloidal substance with solid as dispersed phase and liquid as dispersing medium.
FormsPresent naturally in solid formIt is in semi-solid form
PropertyIt gives a natural glossy look and is found in different colors like brown, orange, and red.The gel-like liquid phase is called cytosol, and different ions, proteins, and carbohydrates impart different qualities to the gel.
CharacteristicIt contains wax hence can be used as a waterproofing materialIt contains water as the main component hence gives a humidifying effect
UsesIt is used as a binder, fixers, and for surfacing the wooden objectIt is used as an absorbing and drying agent

What is Shellac?

Shellac is a refined natural form of Lac. Lac is a secretion produced by an insect parasite on trees found in India, Burma, and some parts of other Asian countries.

It consists of resin, which is a polycondensate aldehyde and other hydroxy acids, wax, and other colorful substances.

It is a form of natural primer that gives glossy shine and insulating qualities and keeps away moisture from objects.

shellac nails

What is Gel?

The gel is a form of colliding consisting of solids in the liquid medium. It is semi-solid in appearance. Jellies, jams, curd, butter, and shoe polish are different forms of gel.

Elastic gels are converted into dry form by heating. When they are kept in water, they absorb it and swell up. Examples of elastic gels are agar-agar, gelatin, fruit jams, etc.

Examples of nonelastic gel are silica gel, hydroxide of Fe, Al, Cr, etc. Some animal species also secrete gels that protect their bodies from parasites.

gel cream

Main Differences Between Shellac and Gel 

  1. Shellac can be used in nails for a glossy finish. It takes less time to dry and is easy to remove, while gel-based nail paints take more time to apply but last longer.
  2. Shellac does not imbibe water and mostly makes the surface waterproof, whereas Gel can absorb water and swell up.
Difference Between Shellac and Gel

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