Shellac vs. Semi-Cured Gel Nail Stickers: What’s the difference?

One question that frequently pops up is how shellac or gel polish compares to semi-cured gel nail stickers. Once you start using MANILAB’s semi-cured gel nail stickers, it’s pretty obvious why so many of our customers have made the switch! Here’s the breakdown on the key similarities and differences. 


Shellac is a UV gel polish similar in consistency to regular polish, though a little thicker and runnier. 

Semi-cured gel nail stickers on the other hand are triple layered strips of gel polish that have been 60% cured already. The gel polish used is non-toxic and free of harsh chemicals.  

Both require curing under a UV lamp, but for how long is the key difference! 


Shellac is applied with a brush, just like regular polish. As long as you’ve got a steady hand, it’s more forgiving to work with than polish, however it involves application of a base coat, two to three layers of colour, and a top coat. Each layer needs to be cured for 90-120 seconds. This can mean 8-10 minutes under a UV lamp per hand. 

Semi-cured gel nails on the other hand arrive in perfect, nail sized strips (in a range of sizes) and are already 60% cured, which means they only need 60 seconds under the UV lamp to bind the three layers together and you’re done! A fraction of the time, and safer*. If you’re someone who doesn’t have time to drop into the salon amongst a busy work/lift schedule or needs something quick and easy, semi-cured gel nail stickers are for you. 


An area where shellac or gel polish and semi-cured gel nail stickers are similar is in their durability, particularly in comparison to regular polish. Both shellac polish and semi-cured gel stickers last for two to three weeks. 

However, many MANILAB customers have reported our semi-cured gel nail stickers are more chip and peel resistant when applied and cared for properly. What’s more, if you lose a nail (because we know accidents happen), you can use your leftovers to swiftly reapply. Check out our reviews and the reels on our Instagram where we’ve shown nails that have stood the test of time! 


The removal process for shellac typically involves filing and soaking the nails in acetone, before scraping them off. Typically a process that needs to be done in-salon to minimise damage. 

On the other hand, our semi-cured gel nail stickers don’t require soaking or filing, just a bit of natural oil (i.e., coconut, olive) and a wooden cuticle stick to gently unstick the sticker from the nailbed, all from the comfort of your own home. Any excess residue is removed with an alcohol wipe provided, and viola, no chemicals needed!  


Shellac offers a range of colours and finishes, and particularly if done in-salon, you can sport some lovely designs. Whether the same can be said when you’re doing it yourself at home… and in a rush, we’re not so sure. 

MANILAB’s semi-cured gel nail stickers come in a range of colours, finishes, and designs and our range is set to keep on expanding. The MANILAB team have designed our own bespoke solid colour range in line with seasonal trends, and we’re keen to stay creative and offer intricate designs that are hard to achieve yourself. Watch MANILAB’s Instagram page for quarterly engagement with our followers on the latest range drop! 

Natural nail health

We’ve had many customers make the switch to semi-cured gel nail stickers after experiencing significant damage to their nails following long-term shellac or gel polish use. This is usually due to the removal process, and for weaker nail beds, shellac removal can cause trauma to the nail bed.

MANILAB’s semi-cured gel nail stickers are non-toxic, free from harsh chemicals, and don’t require chemicals or filing for removal or application. This makes them a fantastic choice for nail health!  

Price point

Pampering experiences like getting salon shellac can come with a price tag, usually $40-60 per set, and that’s without considering the value you place on your time. If you’re doing DIY gel polish at home, it can stack up pretty quickly, particularly if you want to keep increasing your colour range.  

MANILAB’s semi-cured gel nail stickers are the most affordable in the Australian-owned market, setting you back just over $20 per set. With our subscription and bundle and save offers, the more sets you buy, the cheaper they are. At MANILAB, time is one of our most valuable resources, and with the ease of application and extremely short UV curing time, that’s our return on investment!  

Certainly, we hope that these insights have shed light on the key differences between these nail options, helping you make an informed choice. At MANILAB, we take pride in offering semi-cured gel nail stickers as an innovative and convenient solution, providing you with salon-quality nails without leaving the house. Thank you for entrusting us with your nail journey!

*According to the Cancer Council, “generally UV and LED lamps emit low levels of radiation and exposure times are short. MANILAB recommends applying a broad spectrum SPF30 (or higher) sunscreen to your hands 20 minutes before they are exposed to UV light or use fingerless gloves.


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