If they're using a liquid and a powder, it's not gel. Most of the time Gel is odorless, and it looks a lot like hair gel. It has to be cured with a light and most gels have a sticky surface that's left behind after it's been cured.
There are several different types of gel, but they can be broken down into 2 categories. Soft gel and hard gel.
- Adds length to the nail
- Non-flexible or rigid
- Must be filed off by a professional to prevent damage to the natural nail
- Is flexible
- Adds no length
- Can be soaked off in acetone
- Creates a polished look, that doesn't chip for 3+ weeks (depending on the brand)
So what about Shellac? Shellac is a brand of soft gel. It is a mix of polish and gel to create a "power polish." This gives you the chip free manicure that lasts 2 to 3 weeks, but since it incorporates polish, it doesn't have the lasting power of a true gel.
I exclusively use Young Nails product, and their soft gel is called mani•Q. It is a true gel with pigments creates the color. This provides the longer lasting manicure.
If you have further questions feel free to contact me!