Shellac'd! {and a Giveaway from The Beauty Zone}

There are few things that make me feel more feminine and put-together than perfectly polished nails, but I've never been able to make a manicure last more than a couple of days. So with the holidays approaching and pressure to look party-ready mounting, this seemed the ideal time to test-drive CND Shellac UV Colour Coat, to find out if it really does deliver 14 flawless days of polished perfection, and to pass on a seriously good offer from our lovely sponsor The Beauty Zone to The Spring's readers.

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For my Shellac treatment I went to Samantha, owner of  The Beauty Zone (you can read her very helpful nail care tips and tricks based on 18 year experience here). Samantha is a certified CND technician which is important, because correct preparation and application is the key to getting those long-lasting, perfect results. The first step is to shape the nail and clean the nail bed so there's no loose skin or lifting of nail fibres at the ends. The rest of the process goes like this: base coat; cure under UV lights for 10 seconds; colour coat; cure under UV lights; second colour coat; cure under UV lights; top coat; cure under UV lights; wipe down with alcohol to remove sticky residue. That's it - the nails are instantly completely dry, strong, and impeccably glossy. And that is how they stay.

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So how does CND Shellac work? Samantha explained it like this: When the base coat is applied and cured, it forms little channels. The colour coat then fits into those channels and locks in as it's cured. The process builds with these interlocking channels to create a strong, fixed, protective coating that still breaths. This means Shellac'd nails can still absorb moisturisers like cuticle oil and nails come out the other side of the manicure looking healthier than when they were first covered up!

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Samantha applied my Shellac almost two weeks ago, and the results have been amazing. My toes are still immaculate, and since they were so short to begin with I'm going to get at least 5 weeks out of the the pedicure. On my finger nails there was some pre-existing damage that did cause the polish to lift a little on a few edges after about 10 days. (Shellac doesn't like peeling nails!) But, unlike with regular polish, even the slightly lifting bits stayed quite smoothed down and still looked find as long as I didn't pick at them. Removal takes about 10 minutes with an acetone solution, so it's only a quick visit to the salon to have the polish professionally striped off (recommended). Alternatively,  it's possible to find acetone online and do it yourself at home (read this tutorial first).

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{We chose the hot pink "tropix" for my toes and soft "clearly pink" for my fingers.}

I've been so impressed with my Shellac experience (and Samantha's skills!) that I'm thrilled to pass some mani/pedi love on to my dear followers! Samantha is offering readers of The Spring a 10% discount off all CND Shellac treatments for the next month. (Her prices are already very competitive compared with other salons offering Shellac, so this is a bargain!) Brisbane locals can give her a call at 07 3219 1161, and be sure to book early to get an appointment in this busy season!

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For readers who don't live in Brisbane and can't get to Samantha, don't worry, we have something for you too! I use CND solar oil every day and it's massively improved the condition of my once dry, damaged nails. So, we're giving away a bottle to one lucky Spring reader - just leave a comment (including your email address) below telling us what nail colours you're loving this holiday season. The winner will be announced December 2nd, and this giveaway IS open to international readers!