As someone who’s been painting her nails on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for the last ten years, it’s safe to say I’m picky when it comes to nail polish. I’ve tried just about every formula out there, both salon and drugstore, in hopes of finding one that doesn’t chip after five minutes, doesn’t require an hour of drying time, and won’t cost half of my rent check to buy. Because despite said pickiness and desire for a 24/7 perfect manicure, I’m also extremely lazy when it comes to the physical act of painting my nails. So when I eventually stumbled on a drugstore polish that didn’t chip for two full weeks and was a breeze to apply, my brain practically melted with joy.
Meet Essie Gel Couture, the polish that completely changed my life. Or, at least, the life of my nails. And before you roll your eyes at the fact that this is a gel, and of course a gel polish stays on so long! It’s gel! I want to break a few things down for you, because this isn’t like the gels you get in the salon—and I mean that in a good way. Listen, I had tried the in-salon gel manicures, which checked off the chip-free box on my requirements list. But after a few trips, I realized how infeasible it was for me to shell out so much money each month on gels, and I also really didn’t like soaking my nails in acetone each time I got the polish removed. So after three months of dry, damaged nails (yet really excellent manicures), I had to say a painful goodbye to my seemingly perfect nail life. Until, of course, I found Essie Gel.
Since I wasn’t about to go back to regular ol’ polish, I figured I’d try my hand (ha) at at-home gel polishes, which were guaranteed to be less hardcore than in-salon manicures, especially if I ruled out every brand that required a UV light and couldn’t be removed with regular, non-100-percent acetone remover. And, after some trial and error, I found my holy grail, Essie Gel Couture.
Cue the choir of tiny angels singing, because this polish has literally changed my entire nail game. Aside from the cool-looking bottle, the brush tip is rounded, rather than squared, so it leaves a crisp, clean line along your cuticles (which is pretty much genius, as far as I’m concerned) and covers your nail in really opaque, smooth polish in just two strokes. Though Essie Gel Couture doesn’t require a base coat, I like to use one with dark colors to prevent staining. So after buffing my nails and giving them a quick swipe with nail polish remover to remove any lingering oils, I’ll apply my base coat, then paint on two coats of color, letting each coat dry in-between. Then, instead of whipping out a UV light, just apply the Essie Gel Couture Top Coat after your polish dries, and bam, that’s it. Your nails will have a legit mirror-like finish, and your manicure will last up to two weeks, totally chip-free. At least, mine does, and I’m not a delicate little flower when it comes to how I treat my nails.
And, when you’re ready to take the polish off, just soak a cotton swap with remover and wipe it away. It’ll take a bit more elbow grease than with your usual polish, but nowhere near the acetone process you’d get at a salon. Oh, and did I mention that the polish only costs $11.50? Yes, that’s pretty much the cheapest gel manicure you’ll ever have. Personally, I’ll probably never go back to “regular” nail polish ever again, considering the whole process can easily be done in about 20 minutes while watching Netflix on a Sunday night. And unlike at nail salons, no one will judge you for nursing a bottle of wine while you do it.