Skincare Skills

by Lydia

Skincare blogger

May 28, 2021

One of the biggest pet peeves of regular polish is chipping and how long it lasts. That's why most people are now opting for gel nail polish, and brands have also realized that people are looking for at-home options. Hence, they are also creating gel nail polish with similar traits to regular polish in that it's easy to remove and apply but with the popular benefits of gel.

The best gel nail polish will deliver a professional/salon-like manicure. It's free of toxins and will last for at least a week or two without chipping. Some are long-wear, thus allowing you to wear the nail color for weeks on end. The gel nail polish can also feature a formula with a built-in base coat making the application process easier. What makes them have that salon-like/professional effect is the top coat which can either have a super shiny or glossy finish. 

The best part is that brands have found ways to create formulas that don't require UV/Led lamps.

Whether you've run out of your Gel shine Long wear and are looking for a new brand to stock up on, or you're new to the gel polish world, we've got you covered. We listed the best gel polishes in the market and outlined factors to consider when buying them. 

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 Best Gel Polishes

Best Gel Polishes - Reviews

The Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish is the perfect choice if you're looking for professional gel polish for your mani-pedis at home. It's the best gel nail polish as you don't need a UV/LED light to cure it.

The Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish can last up to 8 days when paired with the Sally Hansen shiny topcoat.

The nail polish is chip-resistant and is available in over 70 shades. It features a quick precision brush for smooth application. The application and removal process is similar to regular nail polish with just two steps. It's also easy to apply.

If you're a big fan of the clean and classic manicure, this is the best gel nail polish for you. The OPI infinite shine long-wear nail lacquer has a range of nude/neutrals and light and sheer pinks that will make your classic mani pop.

The OPI gel shine long-wear nail polish comes in more than 60 shades. It has a 3 step application process and is designed to give you a chip-resistant manicure for up to 11 days. For extra shine, apply the OPI Infinite Shine Gloss Top Coat.

Essie's gel couture comes in a range of shades with 42 colors to choose from. It perfect for at-home gel manicure as the application process only requires 2 steps. All you need is the Essie gel couture nail color and top coat to achieve your desired gel manicure.

No base coat is needed; only two coats of Essie gel couture nail polish topped by the gel top coat for a flawless shine. The removal process is similar to regular polish, and you don't need to soak your nails. All you need is cotton pads and nail polish remover. No UV lamp is required to cure your nails, and it's super easy to apply. 

The Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy will have you feeling like you just got a salon gel manicure as it lasts as long. However, it's similar to regular polish in that it comes off just as easily and doesn't require a UV light to be cured. The gel polish is available in 46 vibrant shades.

The Colorstay gel envy long-wear nail polish is formulated with shea butter and oils to condition strong nails. It features a wide-angle brush that creates smooth, bubble-free coats. The application process requires two steps, including the long-wear nail polish and ultra-tough top coat, to deliver brilliant and rich shine lasting for about a week. 

The nail polish features a built-in base coat making your manicure experience much easier. 

The butter London gel nail polish comes in a range of super-pigmented, high-shine shades that last for up to days.

The gel polish is chip-resistant and fade-resistant. You only have to apply two coats and let it dry, after which you'll be ready to rock your gel nails. The gel polish is free of toxins and comes in a range of vibrant, rich shades. Paired with the Hardwear Shine UV Topcoat, your gel nails get a glossy finish.

This gel nail polish will have people wondering if your nails are playing tricks on their minds. The gel formula is designed to change every time there's a temperature change, and it has 3 in 1 temperature colors. The gel polish requires to be cured with a UV/LED/CCFL  lamp. Once applied, it can last for at least 2 to3 weeks. The colors are super rich and vibrant. It's a fantastic choice for those who love changing up their colors. 

All you need is two coats, and your gel manicure is good to go. The gel polish does not require a top coat or base coat and cures without a lamp. The nail polish features a wide brush, and it's super long-lasting. Once applied, you can experience days without any chipping. It's an affordable drug store option. 

Top coats are really important because they protect the nail color and provide the extra shine needed to make your manicure pop. This top coat protects your nail colors from fading, thus making them last longer. Its fast-drying and does not need UV/LED light to cure. The formula is vegan-friendly, toxin-free, and animal cruelty-free. When applied, it delivers a glossy and shiny finish. The Seche top coat is designed to be chip-resistant.

The gel nail polish has a high shine finish that doesn't require UV/LED light to cure it. You also don't need to soak off your gel nails hence making the removal process easy. It features a wide brush that ensures easy application. The gel polish is highly pigmented, thus providing exceptional coverage. The polish glides on smoothly, making your at-home manicure much more enjoyable.

The Deborah Lippmann gel lab pro formula is infused with beneficial ingredients for your nails, like green tea extract, biotin, and omega-6 fatty acids. The gel formula has a smooth application and dries quickly. It lasts long and is chip-resistant. It doesn't require a lamp to cure and easily comes.

Factors To Consider When Looking For The Best Gel Nail Polish

a) Damage To Nails

Gel polishes can cause dehydration and damage to your natural nails mostly because of the harsh removal techniques and non-permeable formulations. Hence, it's essential to look for one that focuses on your nail health and well-being when choosing the best gel nail polish. Some gel nail polish brands are designed without primers or bonders; hence they protect the natural nail.

b) Ingredients

The ingredients in your gel nail polish matter. When considering the best gel polishes, you want to avoid toxic ingredients like formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, and camphor. Poor quality gel polishes will tend to have these ingredients, harming both you and the technician. Some of these ingredients have been found to cause inflammation and also cause other adverse side effects like liver and thyroid issues.

Most of the best professional gel nail polishes don't contain these ingredients. However, it's always best to still go through the ingredients to be sure.

c) Eco and Vegan Friendly

There's a growing trend in ethically sourced and sustainable beauty products. If you highly value vegan and animal cruelty-free products, it's best to consider gel nail polish brands that value this.

d) Removal Process

The soaking off process of gel process is dreaded by many who prefer gel nail polish. Some methods include soaking in a bowl of acetone, scrapping, and ripping the gel off with metal tools. These tend to leave your natural nails dry, weak, and flaky. Hence when looking for the best gel nail polish, consider the removal process. Some brands don't have primers and bonders; hence the gel easily lifts off. While others use nail wraps hence the gel never touches your nail bed.

e) Uv or Led Lamp

Gel polishes have their own types of lamps. Certain gel nail polish will only work with an LED lamp as they are specifically set to be cured under an LED light. In comparison, UV lamps work with all types of gel nail polish. Hence, if you have different gel nail polish brands, a UV lamp will cure them. Thus, it's important to consider the type of lamp you have when considering the best gel nail polish. Another consideration is that led lamps are known to cure faster; however, they emit higher UV light intensities than UV lamps.

6 Tips for Keeping Your Natural Nails Healthy

a) Allow Your Natural Nail To Breathe In Between Gel Manicures

The manicure process, in general, can lead to dehydration and thinning of the nail plate.

Whether you prefer salon or at-home manicures, it's important to assess your natural nail conditions at least every two weeks. This allows you to see if there are any infections and be aware of the state of your nails.

Nail polish features a thick armor-like coating that blocks your nails from transferring oxygen. Thus it's advisable to avoid back-to-back gel appointments to prevent lasting damage. This will allow your nails to rehydrate and repair.

b) Try Not To Pick At Peeling Gel Polish

You've probably found yourself doing this at some point. When the color begins to lift, you may be tempted to remove it. However, it's advisable not to as water can seep into the nail. This can result in the harboring of bacteria and possibly cause fungus.

When you pick at your nail, you're also taking some layers of your nail off with it. This type of damage can take over six months to repair. Gel polish, if applied and removed correctly, is safe to wear on an ongoing basis. However, it can strip layers of the natural nail if over buffered before gel application or peeled off the nail.

c) Limit Your Exposure To The UV/LED Lamp

There's been an ongoing debate on whether UV lamps are safe. A recent study from the  American Academy of Dermatology revealed that gel manicures might not ideally be safe for highly sensitive UV light people. Though the UV exposure during a gel manicure is brief, it's still considered quite intense, and over time this can add up and cause skin damage.

There's also an additional concern in the rise in popularity of LED nail lamps. They are considered faster in terms of curing and are believed to be safer compared to UV lamps. However, these lamps use higher intensities of UVA wavelengths to achieve shorter curing times. This means that they require less time to harm the skin.

Whenever you require to get your gel mani-pedi, you should always ensure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen. This will protect you against UVA/UVB rays, plus the UVA light from nail lamps is stronger than the normal exposure we get from the sun.

d) Hot Water Can Cause Your Gel Manicure To Lift

When you have gel polish, you'll likely want to avoid hot water. Gel polish and hot water don't do well together; that's why it's the most effective way to get them off. So if you've been thinking of long baths, showers, you may have to reconsider as this can cause your polish to lift. When doing dishes, always wear rubber gloves.

e) Take Care Of Your Surrounding Skin

Once you remove your gel manicure, it's important to take care of the surrounding skin and cuticle as well as the nail plate itself. You can do this by rehydrating it with a thick emollient. This can be your preferred hand cream as long as it's moisturizing and intensely hydrating. The key is to rehydrate and repair the surrounding skin, cuticle, and nails.

f) Hydrate and Moisturize Your Nails

The gel removal process can be quite harsh; hence it's essential to take better care of your nails. You can hydrate your nails in between your salon visits or manicures.

This is by applying treatments that will act as base coats and quench your shriveled nail beds. These treatments are packed with oils like coconut, apricot, and avocado and nutrients like Vitamin C.

About the author 


My name is Lydia Adams and I have been a skincare blogger in one way or another for many, many years.

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