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Until just a few months ago, manicures were a short-term beauty dalliance. Nicks, chips, and peeling were just part of the rules of impermanence, which allowed us to experiment with trendy colors without commitment. Oxidized copper anyone?

Now, CND, a spa hand, nail, and foot beauty brand which creates some of the most cutting-edge manicures for designers during fashion week, has made a spa manicure that dries instantly, doesn’t chip, and lasts a solid two weeks.

Called Shellac, the toxin-free polish (no formaldehyde, toluene or DBP) contains semi-permanent polymers of a gel acrylic, which is applied in base, color, and top coats. Each coat is interspersed with a two-minute spell under a UV lamp, which essentially cures the polish dry. (Those concerned about the UV exposure, like I am, can wear sunscreen – your hands remain dry during this manicure, so it won’t be wiped away.) You can choose from the 12 Shellac shades or customize your own : I combined Negligee with Fedora for deep plum. A colleague got shimmery taupe nails by mixing Negligee with Iced Cappuccino.

The polish dries instantly under the UV lamp, which I didn’t quite believe. But just seconds after the treatment, I got the go-ahead from my nail tech to reach for my wallet and keys. It felt wrong – but my nails and emerged from my handbag unscathed – and they’ve remained that way for two weeks now. The manicure costs $20 more, but saved me 15 minutes on my lunch hour. It’s been an entirely different experience having Shellac-ed nails – my first fret-free manicure ever. For a spa or salon near you, visit www.cnd.com.

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