Finishing Nails: The Dry Mani, Shellac or Axxium — Which is for You?

by Janine on 30 June 2010 · 80 comments

I know! It’s another Axxium-related post! And another looks-the-same photo taken 13 days after having it done. (Note: the nail edges look worn, but it’s actually shine.) Yet as much as I love OPI Axxium, as well as it serves me, it’s not right for everyone. And since Creative Nail Design (CND) launched Shellac, folks want to know, Shellac or Axxium? The following might help you decide which is best for you.

The Dry Manicure — for the person who gets tired of wearing the same colour longer than a week or so. (Plus you don’t mind waiting for your nails to dry before you leave the salon.) A trademark Tips mani, this approach eschews the standard cuticle-softening soaking-in-soapy-water step, thus avoiding swelling up the nail with moisture. According to Tips owner Leeanne Colley, it takes more time for the waterlogged nail to shrink back than it takes for nail polish to dry. You end up with a coat of polish too large for the surface it covers, which makes it more chip prone. Skipping the soak can give you an extra day or two of chip-free polish. The dry mani is also good for the person who has small nails she likes to keep really short — lots of filing may affect the longevity of UV-cured colour wear. And it’s good for the person who loathes chips; at the first one, you can take it all off yourself with remover.

CND Shellac Soak-Off Gel/Polish Hybrid — for the person who thinks two weeks is enough with one colour. (And you dig the zero dry-time UV-cured colour comes with.) I still haven’t tried Shellac, but I’ve heard from several people that the gel/polish hybrid finish lasts really well. From what I can see from my own research, it has exactly the same benefits as Axxium, but comes in a bottle and in just 12 shades so far. The finish is no thicker than nail polish. And if you want a colour change, you can paint over it with regular lacquer, and later take it off with non-acetone remover without damaging the shine. In terms of wear, Fashion Magazine’s Rani Sheen told me she actually got nearly three weeks; Health & Swellness’ Karen Kwan is on day 14. Removal takes 10 to 15 minutes at the salon. UPDATE: I have now tried Shellac and determined it’s not great for soft nails that have a natural tendency to peel.

OPI Axxium Soak-Off Gel — for the person who can go up to four weeks with the same colour and some visible new growth between the cuticle and the polish. (And again, you love that you don’t need drying time with UV-cured colour.) I figure I’m the ideal candidate because I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with chippage that I’d otherwise get from opening packages and removing shrink wrap from lipsticks and liners. Visible new-nail growth doesn’t bother me much, plus I don’t usually get around to filing, so the coloured nail stays long enough so you still see the polish first, not the gap. I’m big on a three-coat application, two less than the usual, so for me removal takes about 10 minutes. Oh, and Axxium is available in 34 colours (with more on the way), which can easily be mixed to make new shades. The topcoat is not a soak-off type, so you can paint over it with regular polish and later remove it with acetone without altering the shine. UPDATE: Thanks to my experience with Shellac, I’ve decided Axxium’s strong finish is better for my naturally soft, peely nails.

Anya at ImTheItGirl asked about the difference between Bio Sculpture, another soak-off UV-cured gel with lots of available colours, and OPI Axxium. I asked Leeanne about it because she’s done both. She says the application for Bio Sculpture involves more steps, more product, at least according to the official training session. Axxium is more straightforward, even moreso for me because I like to go for only three coats of gel.

Axxium removal seems to concern a lot of people; here’s how proper Axxium removal is done. (No Dremmel tool required!)

Hope that helps. Because if it doesn’t, you know it’ll mean another post on the subject. *grin*

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Lesa 30 June 2010 at 5:05 pm

Having tried all three, I’m dry mani all the way, for the filing and own removal reasons. Plus when you get Leanne or Rita to do it, the application looks as flawless as Shellac or Axxium. Also, something skeeves me out about the removal of the long lasting ones; I feel like my fingers are soaking in something insanely toxic.


Janine 1 July 2010 at 12:16 pm

I’ve done a bit of filing this time, when lipstick/liner wrapping gets the better of my nails, and all’s good. I don’t mind the soaking bit, especially now that it’s shorter because it has fewer gel layers to get through. I fear I may actually be an Axxium addict. Erk.


Anya 1 July 2010 at 12:04 am

My Bio Gel only lasted about 10 days before it started chipping and peeling. Application involved a Bio Gel base coat and 2 coats of Bio Gel polish. Between applications, I had to put my hands into that drying UV oven thing that feels kind of burn-y. It’s similar to getting gel nails but without the filing and extensions. Soak off removal was very quick and painless.

My friend that also gets Bio Gel done at the same place has had much better luck: her polish lasted about 3 weeks. Maybe I was a bit too rough on my nails? I think I’ll try it again.


Janine 1 July 2010 at 12:11 pm

Sounds just like Axxium, Anya. Not sure why it lasts better for some than others. Lesa had chipping issues with Axxium within a few days, whereas mine lasts for weeks. Re: routine, I occasionally do dishes without gloves, open lots of packages and horrid hard-plastic shrinkwrap on lipsticks and liners, and type a lot. *shrug*


Michelle ( 2 July 2010 at 3:22 pm

One of the estheticians at Concepts told me about the Bio Gel last time I was in (they don’t do it there). She said it was much less damaging to the nails than Axxium and Shellac, and on her lasted her about 3 weeks. So I was intrigued… my nails are SO wimpy and weak, I don’t know if I want to subject them to the toxic soaks (although am trying Shellac, for a story, next week). I am determined to do the Bio Gel soon though. Maybe one for Lesa!


Janine 2 July 2010 at 4:22 pm

I don’t get how Bio Sculpture Gel is less damaging to nails than Axxium or Shellac when neither Axxium nor Shellac damages nails at all. I checked with Leeanne who has done all three on clients, and did some of my own research — Bio Gel sounds pretty much the same as Axxium, except their training instructions specified more application steps. (And Leeanne is such a fanatic about proper training and evaluation of everything she does that I tend to believe her.) In any case, they’re all soak-off formats, including Shellac. Acetone required.

I’m going to try Shellac next, then Bio Sculpture after that.


Jane 6 September 2010 at 1:39 pm

I used OPI Axxium for 3 months. My nails broke. I took the gels off 4 weeks ago and my nails now are a real mess. They are very short and don’t seem to grow. They keep breaking and chipping. They break off in little chunks. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to get my nails to return to normal? I tried Nailtiques for 2 weeks and now am trying Rejuvacote. Thanks


Janine 6 September 2010 at 2:19 pm

Oh dear, Jane — how distressing. My suggestion would be to tackle it internally as well as externally, by making sure your diet includes good sources of vitamins A, C and E as well as omegas 3, and 6, and zinc, which helps nails grow. For topical nail treatment suggestions, let me check with my go-to nail pro, Leeanne. She’s undoubtedly dealt with cases of stressed-out nails before.


Leeanne 6 September 2010 at 2:37 pm

Hi Jane!

I’m sorry to hear your nails in such a state! Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this.

For starters,
What type of nails did you have before you started using Axxium? Did they break easily, split or peel? Ridges?
Were your natural nails breaking while wearing Axxium or has that just started since removing it?
Did you have the Axxium removed by a professional?

I would love to help you with this and a recommend a great product that might suit you a little better.


Jane 6 September 2010 at 3:02 pm

Thanks Leeanne.

My nails were in great condition before using Axxium. I selected Axxium so that the polish would last for 2 weeks.

My nails were breaking while wearing Axxium. When I first starting using it, my nails didn’t break. As time went on, it got worse. Since removing it, the breakage has been MUCH worse.

Yes, a professional removed it.


Leeanne 6 September 2010 at 3:22 pm


If they weren’t breaking at the beginning it sounds like they were getting weaker during visits. It’s not the product that made your nails react this way – I promise! It most likely was the way the tech applied it or removed it.

Such a bummer for me to hear this because I am such a BIG fan of this product and believe me, I have had the opportunity to work with many.

The upside: your nails will return to their regular strength. It will take a little while though. It takes approximately 6 months for your natural nail to completely grow out. So in the meantime, I suggest that you give OPI Nail Envy a try. Just remember to follow the directions. Apply 2 coats on day 1 and every other day apply another coat. Then remove it in 7 days and start again. You want to continue doing this until you know your nails have completely grown out. Try to keep them really short for 5 or 6 months to help them grow strong without further danger of breaking.

I hope this helps :)


Jane 7 September 2010 at 4:35 pm

Thanks. I’ll try Nail Envy.


katy 15 November 2011 at 9:22 pm

I use nailtiques. I have soft nails that peel and nailtiques made them much stronger. I had used nail envy before and the nailtiques worked MUCH better! It’s expensive but very worth it.


crystal 23 March 2011 at 9:18 pm

I love nail envy!!! It helped my nails sooooo much! Ive tried other nail strengtheners but nail envy works the best for my nails.


BostonGal 18 August 2011 at 12:20 pm

I actually have peeling nails and Nail Envy is the BEST!! You have to take it off every week and reapply to keep your nails looking fabulous but you won’t be sorry, it works.


suzi 5 October 2010 at 7:59 pm

i had the axxium done at a salon and parts of my nail are dull. what happened?


Janine 6 October 2010 at 7:34 am

Something didn’t cure properly, Suzi, perhaps the top coat. Or maybe the bulbs in the UV box need replacing.

Did your technician notice the dull spots? You might like to ask her to redo those nails, and consider a different bottle of top coat at least, especially if other clients have had dull-spot issues.

Update: turns out it’s also possible the technician might not have used enough top coat. Please keep me posted on how your next appointment goes!


Reb 11 October 2010 at 11:21 am

Is there any substitute that can be used for the Shellac Base and Top Coat?


Janine 11 October 2010 at 11:33 am

I bet you can use the OPI Axxium base coat — it’s a soak off. And I bet you can use the OPI Axxium top coat. It’s not a soak off, but a light buff would take it off without getting down to the nail.

I’ll have an expert weigh in, though — I’m not a certified technician. Thanks for your question, Reb.


Leeanne 12 October 2010 at 7:06 am

We have played with Gelish base and topcoat with Shellac as well as the Axxium topcoat. Usually both of these topcoats need a light buff before soaking off (like Janine said). They both also take a few extra minutes of removal time compared to Shellac’s base and topcoat.

This might hold you over since it IS so hard to get Shellac products right now.

Hope this helps!


Confused Angie! 26 November 2010 at 3:32 pm

So I had axxium done a few weeks ago at my salon in Vermont. Okay, not great, and I now understand the lack of shine was probably my salon’s fault. I went to a nail salon in Toronto today that on the phone claimed to do Axxium. Instead they did bio-gel which cost way more – I was super pissed when I checked out. She said a fill would cost less, but I’m just wondering about bio-gel removal – do they soak off? The woman today wanted to PEEL my Axxium off but I said I KNEW they had to be soaked.


Janine 27 November 2010 at 12:11 am

Oh my goodness, Angie — that was so not ethical of the salon to lie to you to get you into their establishment then make you pay for a more expensive service that wasn’t the one you wanted in the first place. Holy geez. What was the name of the salon? Sharing would be a public service.

And thank goodness you knew Axxium needed soaking off! I’m aghast at what you had to deal with.

There is a Bio-Gel that soaks off — Anya, who commented at the top of this comment stream, had Bio-Gel and said it was an easy process. However, there is also a traditional non-soak-off gel service that is sometimes called bio gel by less educated salon types. Let me check in with my go-to expert Leeanne on how to tell which one you got.

And yes, it’s probable that your salon in Vermont messed up somewhere. They either a) didn’t give you enough cure time between coats — it should be two minutes for each, and four minutes for the top coat; b) need to replace weak UV bulbs in the light box; or c) need to use a thicker layer of top coat.

Hope your next Axxium experience is a positive one :-/


Leeanne 28 November 2010 at 10:30 am

Hi Angie!

I am so upset that this has happened to you, unfortunately this is a story I know oh to well. Some salons will tell you they offer services they don’t actually offer. It is completely unethical! I had someone come in last week that said she has “Solar Gel” on. There is no such product on the market. She actually was wearing acrylic with a gel top coat. Unless you have had a service done at a reputable salon with an educated tech, there is no way for you to know the difference.

There are few gels that soak off. Bio Sculpture Gel does soak off, but that is if you are actually wearing Bio Sculpture. I have had clients that have gone to other salons and the techs have tried to peel them off. Most of the time they think you have no idea what you are talking about. “Gels don’t soak off” they say, and put you through the painful process of their kind of removal.

Good products on the market are meant to maintain the natural health of your nails. When techs pry or peel off the product it removes layers of your nail and damages them. It takes approximately 6 months for the natural nail to completely grow out. If you are certain you are wearing a soak-off product and frequent other salons, be sure to tell the tech it IS a soak off product. If they tell you there is no such thing….GET OUT! Wherever you go, ask questions, look at the labels on the product and if they refuse to answer your questions or simply do not know the answers….GET OUT!

If you are happy with the regular salon you go to, stick with them because for every good salon there are 50 bad ones!

If you don’t mind me asking, what was the name of the salon in Toronto?


Chloe 19 October 2011 at 3:17 pm

There are “other salons” that do good job and don’t charge an arm and a leg. Consumers are too smarter these days to believe B.S. like this. Just google and read reviews and pick a salon near you. Just because they charge more, it doesn’t mean they do a better job.

Classic example “google vikaspa” in Yorkville..


Janine 19 October 2011 at 3:42 pm

Hi Chloe — what “B.S.” do you mean? And I’m a little unclear — there’s no mention in the above comment about expensive salons vs cheaper salons and price having anything to do with the quality of service.

Do you work for Vikaspa?


Nikolle 19 December 2010 at 12:08 pm

Can anyone who has gone to get the Axxium maniacure done tell me where they went? I live in Toronto and am looking for a salon but it’s proving to be quite difficult.


Janine 19 December 2010 at 12:40 pm

Hi Nikolle,

I go to Tips Nail Bar at 844A Danforth, Danforth & Jones. If that’s not convenient for you, check in with OPI via this link to find an Axxium salon in your area. If you still find that a trick, are you on Twitter? You might have some luck if you tweet a question to @OPI_PRODUCTS.


Denise 16 January 2011 at 10:53 am

I purchased a new OPI UV light; I have tried Shellac color with the OPI base coat and top coat. I cannot get rid of the tackiness even though I use the recommended cure time under the light. Any suggestions?
Is there a problem with using the different products?


Janine 16 January 2011 at 2:10 pm

Hi Denise,
Are you a technician? Could be issues with how thickly you’re applying each layer, including the top coat, but there may also be issues with combining the brands. Let me check with Expert Leeanne.


Leeanne 16 January 2011 at 2:19 pm

Hi Denise. I have never used Axxium base with Shellac. I have used the Axxium top coat with Shellac and It cures a little dull. Tacky? I’ve never had that problem.
Are you wiping the final layer with Nas 99?
Can I ask why you are mixing the brands?
Are you having problems getting CND products? If so there are other products you can mix with Shellac if necessary.


Annemarie 24 January 2011 at 12:27 am

Hi Leanne! I am a licensed tech in ny and i puchased the axxium soak off kit and have been experimenting on myself and friends. I cannot get it to be shiny. Although my curing lamp is not the axxium one, I just got it, the bulbs are not bad. When I wipe will nas99, it dulls and sometimes color comes off on my pad and small smudges on the nail. Also, nails are a little tacky. It’s so frustrating bc I don’t want to bring it into my shop before I like the results on myself. Do u think I ABSOLUTELY HAVE to use the axxium lamp? I would think that any 9w should work.. Any suggestions?? HELP !!

Should I cure longer? I have not been using thick coats either.


Janine 2 March 2011 at 5:41 pm

Hi Annemarie,

HUGE apologies; I just spotted the date on your comment! Have you solved your issues? From my own experience with Leeanne and Axxium applications pretty much back-to-back over the last year, you don’t need the Axxium lamp, and in fact, would do better with a lamp that can fit all fingers at once.

If you still need application answers, it might be better to email Leeanne directly — she’s nutty busy these days (she’s basically Canada’s only nail guru at this point, especially when it comes to soak-off gel technology and application). You can find her through her website,


Melissa 13 February 2011 at 7:15 pm

I have a problem with the Axxium top coat dulling after I wipe. I’m curing with a brand new light and I’m curing for several minutes. I’m thinking about purchasing the Shellac base and top coat to try with my Axxium colors. What do you think?


Janine 2 March 2011 at 5:37 pm

Hi Melissa,

I’m so sorry it’s taken so long to reply to your comment! Have you figured out the issue? From what I’ve learned from Leeanne, the Shellac and Axxium formulas don’t mix terribly well. As well, four minutes is about as long as it should take to cure the final coat. You might have to play with the application a bit, with the amount you put on the nails.

Leeanne is nutty busy these days, but you might like to drop her a line directly via Twitter — @TipsNailBar, or via email, which you’ll find on her website,


Janine 19 October 2011 at 3:44 pm

Update! Well, perhaps I overstated re: Axxium and Shellac formulas not mixing terribly well — the brands of course would prefer everyone use their products together rather than with other brands. I can’t tell you not to experiment…


Grace 2 March 2011 at 3:58 pm

I love that you’ve posted on this!

I’ve been doing Shellac for about 2 months now – new colors came out at a salon I frequent and they do such a good job! I love it! I wanted to try OPI’s Axxium (which the salon doesn’t do) – but, a friend said she’s done it and it just wasn’t the same.

As my friend says… once you Shellac – you can’t go back! haha


Janine 2 April 2011 at 1:05 pm

Hi Grace!

Not everything works for everyone of course. Leeanne tells me she has clients who absolutely swear by Shellac, get three chip-free weeks from it. But me, I tried Shellac once, and I’ll never go back to it. *grin* It’s just not right for my nails, which prefer the durability and protection Axxium delivers. And I have a friend, who also goes to Leeanne, who had no success with Shellac, no success with Axxium, but loves Entity, which I found was very Shellac-like. Weird right?


Lisa 2 April 2011 at 10:28 am

After reading the comments above, I felt the need to post. I have the most pathetic nails in the world. Thin, peeling, ridges, constantly breaking off. I never bothered with “painting” my nail because it would just chip off plus my finger nails were always breaking off, these aren’t long nails by any stretch of the imagination. We are talking what ever 1mm I had. I also travel weekly which involves alot of rooting around tight spaces digging out credit cards, boarding passes etc.

Then, i developed “Terry’s Nails/ Half &half nails” an ugly discoloration. Since when i do get to my final destinations and have to point to objects on a screen I became really self conscious. i did my research and decided I’d try OPI Axxium, I’d be happy if they lasted more that 4 days. Off to the salon I went.

I explained to the gal I did not want anymore damage o what it i I had left, she also understood the discoloration, the fact that the colors are sheer and helped me select colors that would hide this. I also didnt want anything too dark to draw attention to my wrinkly hands.

After the application, i immediately had to dig into my pocket and then get a credit card out. Nothing, no chip, no indents. By day 5, I was ecstatic because I had a heavy travel & work schedule. The only thing that was happening was that my nails were growing out! I didnt get any chip until day 13 and that was on the distal end where the new growth was obvious. Having read the awful stories of damaged nails after/during removal. I scheduled them to be soaked off and then come back later to have reapplication.

Yes, acetone is drying, but some photo’s of the soaking process where hands are soaking in acetone is incorrect. My gal placed cotton around my finger tips and applied the acetone on the nails and then wrapped them in foil to keep them in place. After 20 minutes or so, she just used a cutical pusher, pushed the remaining gel off.

Yes, I could see that the acetone dried them out. So instead of having another application right away, i went home and rehydrated them with almond oil. When I did go back to have it done again, my nails looked healthier than they had been in years. They had grown, but of course there isnt anything that will help with the discoloration that is a result of a disease process.
This time, i went with an even darker color. I was concerned because I thought for sure this was going to be too good to be true and if the darker color chipped it would be horribly obvious. Well guess what, after traveling extensively and abusing my nails like tools, they look fabulous after 10 days.

This time around i’m going to go for 3 weeks if possible. I think this is the most absolutely fabulous thing.

I am going to try to do the CND shellac to compare as my own experiment.

For those of you that have complained about damage to previously perfectly healthy gorgeous nails, why do you even bother to hide those? There isn’t anything prettier.

To those that need this and have had bad results, you have to find someone who knows what they are doing.

I feel i should be the poster child of bad nails and what these products can do for you. And again, although you are supposedly able to remove and reapply immediately, I suggest take a day between soaking off and reapplying. Acetone used to be the only thing to remove nail polish back in the day. Understand what it is and use it appropriately. Soaking in a “toxic” solution in my opinion is a silly comment. Just do or find someone to do it correctly and stop trying to scare people off.


Janine 2 April 2011 at 1:26 pm

Thanks for your comment, Lisa — looks like Axxium has worked really well for you. You mentioned you’re going to try Shellac — you just need to know it isn’t as strong as Axxium, and it peels once it starts to lift and chip. If your nails are naturally peely, the peeling Shellac may take layers of your nail with it if you leave it too long between the first chip and removal. But you’ll only know for sure how your nails and Shellac will get along if you try it; enjoy your experiment!

As to the soaking vs nail wrap, both seem to be valid approaches to me. I say ask your technician for whichever makes you feel more comfortable.


Leeanne 3 April 2011 at 8:53 am

Sing it sister!

My FAVE part of your post “For those of you that have complained about damage to previously perfectly healthy gorgeous nails, why do you even bother to hide those? There isn’t anything prettier.” SO true!


Rich Blackwoman 2 April 2011 at 11:19 pm

I recently got Axxium polish, I have gone back to the salon FOUR times in an attempt to fix the dull looking polish. What’s so puzzling is that the first time I got Axxium polish, it looked absolutely fantastic…shiny, no chipping, and absolutely not worn or dull into week 4. I am highly frustrated. My nail polish also feels sticky! What in the world is going on. As I understand, Axxium is a soak-off lacquer and I soaked for over an hour. I also sat under the UV light for about 30 minutes, to ensure that they were dry. At this point I am FED-UP! What is my nail technician not doing properly here in Philadelphia? Gel nail polish is too expensive for it not to last. HELLLLLP MEEEE PLEASSE!


Janine 3 April 2011 at 12:24 am

Four times??? Sheesh. And an hour of soaking? Double sheesh! And the UV light for 30 minutes???? NO!

Sounds like they’re not using enough top coat, actually, RB. Axxium is NOT like regular nail polish that works better in thin coats.

I think you already know this by now, but with soak-offs, you should NEVER need more than a couple or three minutes under the UV lamps, and the soak-off process shouldn’t take more than 20 min to half an hour at most, including flaking the product off the nails. You might like to look for another salon in the area that does a better job;

Good luck!!


Rich Blackwoman 3 April 2011 at 8:17 am

Thanks Janine! I thought the same thing. Can I apply regular top coat, would that help?


Leeanne 3 April 2011 at 8:51 am

Janine is right! You need to find a new salon.

In the meantime, applying a top coat will give you some shine. Obviously this is not what you signed up for but until you can find the right place this should help!


Rich Blackwoman 3 April 2011 at 7:43 pm

Thanks Leeanne!


Jean 5 April 2011 at 5:31 pm

Can the CND Shellac lamp be used with OPI’s Axxium


Petra's Mama 6 May 2011 at 9:34 pm

Hi, ladies… Can anyone tell me whether you can paint over Axxium at home if you get tired of your old color or if you want to cover the gap at the nail bed as your nails grow out in order to go a little bit longer before reapplying? I’m a financially-challenged single mother and need all the help I can get being frugal. :o)


Janine 7 May 2011 at 2:03 pm

Absolutely you can, Petra’s Mama — click here for tips about using regular polish over your Axxium. And in the photo here, I’m wearing a couple of fairly generous coats of Essie nail polish over grown-out Axxium.


cheeta 7 May 2011 at 4:26 pm

was wondering if shellac top and base could be used with axxium color? thanks


Janine 7 May 2011 at 6:22 pm

Actually no, Cheeta. The formulas don’t play nice together.


Janine 19 October 2011 at 3:45 pm

UPDATE, Cheeta! Turns out it’s not so much that formulas don’t play nice, it’s that brands prefer that you use everything in one line together rather than mix them up. They don’t advise it.

But they can’t stop you from trying…


Corgi Lover 12 May 2011 at 3:14 pm

Hello all,
First of all, thanks for your posts.
I have tried Axxiums for 2-3 months on two occasions. I loved the long wear, shine, and all the benefits stated above. However, each time they were replaced, they lasted a little less time than the prior until the last time, I’d have the whole polish on an nail just come off after a week or so. SO, I had them removed and my nails were pretty crappy – peeling, the tips just kind of disinitigrating really. I used rejuvocote and in about 8 weeks they were better, and after about 3 months, they were good again.
Both times, I went to the same tech, so I’m wondering if (based on your posts above) maybe she was not removing them in the best possible way?
I would love to go back to them, I show dogs and bathing and grooming takes its toll (even more than shrink wrap!)
Thanks in advance for your comments and help!


Teresa 1 June 2011 at 1:56 pm

Have been using CND Shellac for almost a year and absolutely love it. It always lasts for two weeks and has never peeled. I am lucky to have such a wonderful nail tech. I have never tried the OPI Axxium, but I know nail salons in my area are telling clients it is the same as the CND Shellac.


Tweet 16 June 2011 at 9:32 am

Can you give me a list of things to look for when finding a good nail tech for applying Axxium? I have finally grown my nails out to my liking & have been able to keep them healthy so the last thing I need is a poorly educated nail tech messing them up!


Janine 16 June 2011 at 9:41 am

Tweet, that’s an excellent subject for a post on its own. I’ll write something up for you!


Tweet 18 June 2011 at 11:52 am



Tweet 18 June 2011 at 11:54 am



Kimberly 30 June 2011 at 9:00 pm

I have fragile, soft, peeling, ridges, and just terrible nails. I invested about $1000 in services at a “Natural Nail Care Clinic” in Virginia and they used Swedish products and nothing worked, I have taken calcium, gelatin, vitamins and almost every product you can think of. So I went back to acrylic nails. Now I want to try again to grown strong nails. Any suggestions? I just took off the acrylic and had CND Shellac put on my short nails just to try it. Maybe next time I will try Axxium. I just want my nails strong and to stop peeling and i notice that the nails with lots of ridges peel even more. I asked my doctor and he said its in my genes and there is nothing I can do. Recently I have started taking calcium chews to help. What do you suggest and if the Shellac or Axxium fail what products can I use that I would do myself at home ?

Need help, this has been going on for YEARS!!!!!!!




Janine 3 July 2011 at 1:19 pm

Hi Kimberly,
I have not-great news for you :-( There isn’t a ton you can do to strengthen naturally weak nails. Sure, some people have found success with the remedies you’ve tried, but it sounds like they’re simply not enough to make a difference for you.

Shellac and Axxium soak-off gel simply cover nails — like acrylics, they can serve as a protective shield, but they won’t improve the intrinsic nature of your nails. Between the two, Axxium soak-off is stronger, and an option if you’re looking for a thinner gel finish. I doubt it’s quite as strong as acrylics (I’ve never had those), but in my experience it’s more durable than Shellac.

As for at-home remedies, there is an at-home soak-off gel system coming from a drugstore brand, but I haven’t yet tried it, so I can’t give you any details just yet. Stay tuned, though.


rhonda klein 19 January 2012 at 5:57 pm

I just got Bio Gel for the first time. It’s crazy expensive and people tell me they have gel manicures for half of what I’m paying at my salon. What’s the cost differential between BioGel and Axxium and the others? Thanks


Gina 13 March 2012 at 6:52 pm

Hi there,
I got my first axxium mani today and it was shiny when it came out of the uv lamps. Then she wiped them down with some kind of acetone and now they are dull :( what do I do? Go back and ask for more top coat? Is there something I can try at home? I’m very disappointed to have paid $45 for dull nails :(


Janine 14 March 2012 at 3:21 pm

That technician should not have let you leave the salon with dull nails — she owes you a gratis service or fix, Gina.

Sounds like the gel didn’t cure properly, which means either she didn’t mix the gel properly in the pot before applying or she applied it too thickly, or there’s a problem with the lamp’s bulbs.

Your best bet is to go back to the salon — the manicure wasn’t properly executed. The colour now has to be slightly buffed down, then you need another thin layer of gel colour. After that cures, you need a layer of top coat. And after that cures, it better wipe off shiny, or the technician will have to try again. And again.

What colour did you get?


YouLookHotToday 14 March 2012 at 5:17 pm

My Axxium or Gelcolor is always shiny unless I’ve just put on hand cream and, if I’ve just put on hand cream, I suddenly feel driven to wipe my nails on my jeans to bring the shiney back. Mine are always so shiny it makes me smile just to look at them. If yours isn’t shiney, yeah, you gotta go back and they need to learn how to apply it properly.


Lucy1 15 May 2012 at 1:36 am

I went to a salon by my house for about 2 years and the owner did my nails with Axxium….my nails grew and stregthened. Prior to getting Axxium, my nails were breaking constantly and nail polish chipping within a couple of days. Thats when the owner suggested Axxium. My nails would last 4 weeks and still looked great. She was great! Now there is a new owner and she absolutely will not do Axxium for me and keeps suggesting to me that the other shelacs are just as good. She uses a dremmel to take the shelac off which hurts me and the nail and as a result 4 of my nails are broken and have weakend. I have complained to her and wanted her to stop using a dremmel or filing my nails so hard. She would file the nails as if I had acrylics done. She would not budge. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt and kept going to her. Well, now she won’t even take me as a client because I have complained to her about all this. The shelac she uses don’t even last a week. Two other friends went to the prior owner now both stopped going to her because of the same reasons. VERY UPSET! Now I will need to find someone else in the area to do Axxium….This is the best product!


Janine 15 May 2012 at 2:41 am


You do NOT want that woman as your technician. She has no business using a Dremmel with ANY soak-off gel. They don’t need it — they SOAK. OFF. She’ll damage everyone’s nails. She shouldn’t be in business at all; it’s clear she doesn’t give a fig about her clients.

Best of luck in your search (there is a Axxium salon finder on the OPI website). In the meantime, you’ll want to warn people away from that salon.


Marilene 18 May 2012 at 8:00 pm

Hi, I want to know if CND Shellac and OPI Axxium are both gel nail polish? What is that word( soak-off)? that means you can take off with acetone? Please help me understand, because wen I go to do my nails, I want to know what I have in my nails.

Thank You.


Janine 21 May 2012 at 9:09 pm

Hi Marilene,

OPI Axxium (and the new OPI GelColor) is technically a gel formula. CND Shellac bills itself as a hybrid between gel and nail polish. All three are classified as soak-offs — removal requires soaking the nails in pure acetone for at least 10 minutes (Axxium and certain shades of OPI GelColor can take up to 20; they’re much more durable than Shellac).

Other brands you need to know about: Gelish, Entity and Artistic Colour Gloss — these are soak-off gels too, and offer a terrific range of hot, trendy and classic shades.

Key to any of these soak-off types is this: your technician should NOT EVER need to file down to the nail to remove it. Axxium needs a light file to get the surface shine off (its top coat is NOT soak-off), but once that’s done, your nails should soak. When they’ve soaked sufficiently, the colour should flake off with the help of a round-edge cuticle pusher so as NOT to damage the nails.

For safe soak-off-removal details, read this post — except for gentle filing away of Axxium’s shine, all soak-off manicures are removed this way.


Christena 8 June 2012 at 11:30 am


I was wondering if you do the whole kit on your nails and then cover the nail with regular nail polish will it stay as long? I have a favorite color I always use and I don’t want to give it up. Will I need to add the top coat again or can I substitute the polish all together and still use the base and top coat?


Janine 9 June 2012 at 4:06 pm

Yes, that would work, Christena. One of the coolest things about soak-off manicures is that you can paint over them with regular nail polish (which will stay put very well because it’s on a synthetic surface), then remove it a few days later to reveal the original shiny soak-off surface. Just remember a couple of things:

1) use a basecoat if you’re using a particularly bold shade of polish; it might stain the soak-off below
2) if you’re painting over Shellac, which isn’t acetone-proof, use a non-acetone remover to take off the polish when you’re ready, or you’ll compromise the soak-off finish
3) if you’re painting over OPI Axxium or OPI Gelcolor, both of which are acetone-proof, you can use regular acetone or nail polish remover to take off the coat of nail polish


Sherree Wells 17 October 2014 at 1:47 pm

I just had OPI gel nail polish done on my nails. Instead of using the Rapid Dry spray on my finished nail, she used the OPI NS 99 (94?) spray. I noticed it was a cleansing spray, not a fast dry spray. Will this mess my gel polish up, and cause it to start coming off sooner? I spent $95 to have this done, I will be really mad if my nail polish starts coming off too soon. However, this was at Belk’s Carmen Carmen Salon in Asheville, NC – they should rectify the situation.


Karen Mani-Geek 17 October 2014 at 2:22 pm

Sherree, you’re talking about a soak-off GelColor or Axxium manicure? If yes, then the spray won’t do a single thing to your new mani. Them nails is rock solid for at least a couple weeks. You can even wipe ‘em with pure acetone if you want to and they’ll be perfect.

I don’t know why she’d use a cleaner except to get the last tacky residue from the soak-off gel offa your nails. She could have used acetone or rubbing alcohol – maybe that’s what’s in NS99 (94?).

There’s no need for Rapid-Dry if you had a soak-off gel mani done – the curing dries it so as soon as the top coat is cured, it’s 100% dry.

My bet is that in a couple weeks, your nails are still gonna look fan-freakin’-tastic!


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