Nail Polish Trend: CND Shellac vs. OPI Axxium

Another day another nail trend.

This time, it’s all about gel lacquer “ the new and innovative way to colour your nails in a long-lasting and protective way. Step aside regular ol’ nail polish, gels are all the rage offering chip-free colour, super-shine, and goodbye dry time (where do I sign up)? The trend leaders are none other than Creative Nail Design Shellac and OPI Axxium Soak Off Gels.

Before you run out to your nearest nail salon demanding your fix of gel nail colour, let me break down the differences between Shellac and Axxium to help you decide which is right for you.


Shellac and Axxium are both hypo-allergenic and 3-Free, meaning no formaldehyde, toluene or DBP (dibutyl-phthalate) – bonus!

Must be applied professionally
Both should only be applied by professional nail estheticians. Why? Applying gel entails skill and knowledge of the product. Special brushes are required for application as well as a special curing process in between coats underneath a UV lamp. Each application requires a base coat, two colour coats, and lastly a sticky top coat.

Be prepared to pay more than your regular mani when opting for gels. Depending on the salon this could mean paying $15-$25 more.

After a roughly 45 minute to a one hour application, you’ll get a chip-free, long-lasting, anti-dull, super shine colour. Don’t forget the best part: zero dry time! Be prepared to choose a colour you’ll be dedicated to wearing for nearly 2 weeks.


One is a gel; one a gel hybrid
Shellac is a gel hybrid, while Axxium is strictly a gel. Therefore, Axxium has more of a thicker finish but lasts slightly longer than Shellac. A gel hybrid is a marriage between gel and regular nail polish or as CND calls it a super-powered polish. According to Chad Conger, CND Research Chemist, Shellac is a “fusion of enamel technology, gel technology, and new technology that allows polish like application, gel like wear, and easy 10 minute removal.”

Removal Process
Both Shellac and Axxium involve a special removal process that should only be performed by a professional esthetician. Both processes take anywhere between 10-15 minutes. Axxium is removed by soaking the nails which removes the colour from the outside of the nail to the centre. The remainder of the colour is then filed off. Shellac’s process is slightly different because the colour is removed from the centre of the nail outwards and the base coat allows the colour to “flake off” into small pieces which are then wiped off.

Creative Nail Design’s Shellac is currently available in 24 colours, while Axxium is available in 50 colours and glitters “ some of which include your faves like You Don’t Know Jacques and Miami Beet.

Shellac comes in a tinted bottle while Axxium comes in a small, shallow pot-like bottle. Why is this important? Because Shellac comes in a tinted bottle, it’s hard to see how much of the gel you have left. Axxium, in my opinion has opted for a more convenient design because the bottle is wider and shorter therefore making it easier to scoop out all the gel and know when you’re running low.

Sympatico Image


Tags: Axxium, gel lacquer, gel soak off, gels, nail colour, nail salon, nails, Shellac

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  1. Avatar
    • Jane Sanders
    • May 4, 2013
    Very informative review! Please make a review on Gel nail polish kit.

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