Best Gel Nail Polish Brands [Review] in 2021
written by nail expert Jess Rowley
Looking to enter the world of gel manicures but not sure where to start?
Well, I have good news! You’re at the right place.
Polished gel manicures are to die for; they have become such a beauty staple over the years. Not only do they offer a shiny, glossy finish, but they will stay on for weeks without losing their shine or show a sign of chipping.
However, with so many to choose from, there’s no wonder we struggle. There’s also a huge jump in quality from cheap gel polish to the trusted names, making it even harder to choose.
Don’t let that put you off, though.
I am here to guide you through. I have spent 10 hours researching 47 different gel polish brands to select the very best ones for your pretty little fingertips.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: use these gel polishes with a gel base and topcoat with a UV lamp, and you’ll be good to go for up to a month of wear, you heard me, a month!
My top three selections are my favorite gel polishes ever; you won’t want to miss them.
hours spent finding
The Top Gel Nail Polish Brands Of 2021
Gelish Soak-Off Gel Nail Polish
Best gel nail polish brand loved by professionals
Gelish comes in hot sealing number one spot. Quality is in the name of this one and is loved by many manicure specialists. With their wide range of 151 colors to choose from, from cremes to glitters– you cannot beat it.
This gel nail polish will see you through 3 weeks before showing any signs of chipping. Not to mention the gorgeous, salon-quality thick, and glossy finish that everyone loves.
In terms of the color, it is highly pigmented even after one coat of gel nail polish. All you need to do is apply any gel base coat, 1-2 layers of this gorgeous color, seal the deal with any gel top coat, curing in between each layer for 2 minutes under a UV lamp.
Want to know the best part?
Gelish offers both regular-sized bottles and mini-sized bottles to get you hooked with different colors until you find the one you love!
In terms of removal, it is relatively straightforward too, all you need to do is soak your gels for up to 20 minutes in acetone and ease off the gel. Gelish is brilliant for both regular and acrylic manicures and a personal favorite of mine.
You get the best quality gel nail polish for the price; there’s no wonder it is everyone’s gel nail polish go-to!
- Lasts up to 3 weeks before chipping
- 105 colors to choose from
- Loved by many professionals
- Works well with other top coat and base coat brands
- Highly pigmented
- Removal process can be long-winded
Latest deal: Gelish Soak-Off Gel Nail Polish
Aimeili Soak Off UV Gel Polish
I love a good gel nail polish when I see one; nothing can be Aimeili with both their neutral tones, chameleon formulas, and glitter polishes while still lasting up to 21 days of wear. Can you beat it?
Aimeili goes on like polish, wears like gel, and will be off in minutes with no nicks, chips, or smudges. All you need to do is apply like a polish with a base coat and top coat, curing under the UV lamp between each layer– it’s that simple!
When trying this polish, I found that it’s a lot thicker than usual, which is completely normal. I found by rolling it in my hands for a few minutes made the application much easier and much smoother overall.
Aimeili offers 50 colors to choose from, from classic nudes, glitters to even color-changing formulas that change based on the temperature or light.
Out of all of the lower-priced gels, Aimeili is definitely the best gel nail polish. It is the most durable and will last up to 14 days before even showing signs of chipping. Plus, it can take a fair bit of abuse to start breaking down.
Aimeili is best known for its color-changing chameleon formulas and bold colors, but they now offer more subtle hues perfect for the everyday.
- Lasts up to 21 days
- Goes on like a polish and wears like a gel
- Changes based on hand temperatures
- Works with different base coats and top coats
- Thick formula
Latest deal: Aimeili Soak Off UV Gel Polish
LECHAT Perfect Match Gel Nail Polish
Now, are you looking for a gel nail polish with a flawless application and will guarantee to have a long-lasting shine that will last for weeks? Well, Lechat may be your perfect match (literally).
One thing I love about Lechat is that you can also get a second bottle in the same color but with a non-gel formula.
You heard me, if you want the same color on your pretty tootsies but want to opt-out of the gel nail polishes then you can! Or even as a regular everyday manicure when you take a break from gel.
But let’s talk colors:
With over 200 colors to choose from, the options are endless! From neutrals, bold colors, to color-changing hues, bright holographic colors to gorgeous glitters. But these gorgeous colors will not only look pretty they will last up to 14 days of wear!
Whether you’re looking for a classic manicure or one that stands out from the crowd then you absolutely need to try these out.
- 14 days of wear
- Over 200 colors to choose from
- Offers the same color in a non-gel formula
- Long-lasting shine
- Formula is quite thick
Latest deal: LECHAT Perfect Match Gel Nail Polish
Elite99 Gel Nail Polish
Now if you’re tight on budget but still looking for top quality products then I must introduce you to Elite 99’s gel polish. The first thing that caught my eye is their 377 gel polishes to choose from, talk about variety!
It comes in a range of colors from high pigmented creams, magnetic polishes, to even color-changing polishes that change with temperature. If you’re looking for a popular gel for home use then this is the one for you.
Not bad for at-home gel, right?
It’s super easy, just apply your favorite base coat, 2 layers of your favorite Elite99 gel, then a top coat while curing in between each step with either a UV or LED lamp. If cured correctly it can last as long as 2 weeks!
In terms of the formula, Elite99 is on the thinner side, making it easier to work with and it will bond well with other base and topcoats. It is brilliant for beginners and for those who have been doing gel polish for years.
For the price you really can’t get better than this, I was hooked from the first time I used it.
- Affordable salon quality
- Highly pigmented
- Can last up to 2 weeks with a gel top coat
- Range of different colors
- Longer curing times
Latest deal: Elite99 Gel Nail Polish
Gellen Gel Nail Polish Kit
best gel nail polish brand overall
Gellen is another favorite of mine, especially for at-home manicures. You can buy them individually but I love their sets of nail polishes. They offer a wide range of colors to choose from in cute mini-sized bottles.
This one is perfect for my girls that get bored of having the same nail color easily. The colors I have selected above are of a pinkish, purple nude hue which will complement every outfit on the day-to-day.
But don’t let that stop you!
Gellen offers over 300 colors to choose from, they even have color-changing, glitter, holographic and metallic colors too. You definitely won’t be stuck for a choice.
In terms of the formula, Gellen is much thinner than other gel polishes but I would recommend using two to three coats of this bad boy to ensure ultimate coverage. As for the lifespan of their formulas, they will last up to 14 days with no issues.
For the finish, longevity wide color selection, and price Gellen will always tick all the boxes.
- 14 days of wear with a gel top coat
- 300 colors to choose from
- Easy application
- Highly pigmented
- Thin formula, will need 2-3 coats
Latest deal: Gellen Gel Nail Polish Kit
Modelones Gel Nail Polish Set
I cannot wait to tell you about the brand Modelones; their gel polishes are the full package. They offer elegant colors that can be worn with either a glossy or matte finish!
You will get 2 weeks of wear out of their formula with no nicks, chips, or smudges; talk about longevity! They are the perfect gel polish gift for yourself or a friend.
They are ideal for use in the salon or your own DIY home manicure; you can use them on acrylic, artificial, nail tips, and your natural nails. All you need to do is the regular gel polish prep and cure under a UV or LED lamp for a few minutes.
The brushes are small and compact, making them ideal for nail art designs as well as your usual manicure. For the price and the quality you get, Modelones is a winner.
- Zero smudges
- 14 days of wear with a good top coat
- The brush is small and compact
- Beautiful color
Latest deal: Modelones Gel Polish Set
Makartt Gel Nail Polish
Now I have always been a fan of Makartt, especially their gel selection kits. They offer a wide range of gel kits with 22 colors to choose from, plus a base and top coat; they do them all!
Markartt not only offers a gel manicure that will last you up to 2 weeks of wear, but their high gloss finish also leaves a plumping effect on your nails to give a shiny finish.
Markartt’s kits are ready for any occasion, from everyday wear to a hot date or party. They are also brilliant for both salon and at-home manicures.
Markartt offers a selection of different colors in a wide range of kits to try; you won’t be stuck for choice.
But here’s the best bit.
This gel has no chips, smudges and will not peel easily. All you need to do is file your nails, apply their gel base coat, two layers of the color of your choice, and then a topcoat (make sure you cure under a lamp in between layers)
For the price, this one is an absolute steal. Their colors are densely pigmented, they last up to 2 weeks of wear without chipping, and they offer a broad color palette to choose from.
It doesn’t get better than that!
- 2 weeks of wear with gel top coat
- Durable, chip and peel resistant
- 22 colors plus a base and top coat in one kit
- Afforable brand
- Has a longer curing time
Latest deal: Makartt Gel Nail Polish
CND Shellac Gel Nail Polish
best shellac nail polish brand
You may be asking yourself, what about shellac gel polish? Well, the best shellac gel nail polish brands has to go to CND; I love their formula and color selection.
CND Shellac is one of the best gel polishes in the world that will up to 14 days of wear; celebrities much love it on the red carpet. CND uses a super high-quality yet non-toxic formula that won’t harm your nails.
Sounds brilliant so far, right?
Well, it gets better than that: shellac doesn’t need nail roughening for better adhesion, apply a base coat, two layers of this gorgeous color, a top coat, and cure under a UV lamp in between each layer– it’s that simple!
In terms of application, the 200 ergonomic application glides onto your nails like a dream. It ensures you have a comfortable, smooth, and streak-free application.
As for the color range, CND offers all the classic moods you may want in your manicure, from classic nudes to gorgeous, deep reds– you’ll have a color to compliment every occasion.
A 2-week gel polish that is healthy for your nails, plus offers excellent coverage, what more could you want?
- Ease of application
- Lasts up to 2 weeks of wear
- Non-toxic, healthy formula
- Gorgeous color range
- Only lasts 2 weeks
Latest deal: CND Shellac Gel Nail Polish
Best Gel Nail Polish Brands Buyer's Guide
If you’re looking for long-lasting nails that will tackle anything, regular manicures aren’t always up for the job. Well, I’m here to introduce you to the world of gel nails.
Unlike normal nail polish, the gel’s pigments are dissolved in a solvent, and when exposed to air, it evaporates. It forms a hardened lacquer causing a chemical reaction triggered by UV lights- this process is called curing.
But you may be wondering, can you get the same effect even at home?
Yes, you absolutely can; with this guide, I have listed the very best gel nail polish brands for both your home manicure or even for clients. All you’ll need is a UV or LED lamp and a base and top coat.
It can be a challenge to find gel nail polish brands that will work for both your budget and for your at-home manicures but I’m here to guide you through.
Practice makes perfect, and it will save a bucketload of money, trust me. I’m here to break down the confusing features so you can get the most out of your mani-pedi for longer.
How does gel polish work?
Now regular polish works in a similar way to paint, the pigments are dissolved in a solvent, and as that solvent is exposed to air, it evaporates to leave a hard lacquer.
Gel, on the other hand, will only harden when exposed to UV light. You will find all gel polishes are packaged in an opaque bottle to prevent the light from hitting the lacquer.
You may also notice brands claiming their product is a gel, yet they are using a glass bottle; this means that their product isn’t a true gel.
When the gel is exposed to UV light, it hits the polish photoinitiators and forms a chemical reaction that changes the liquid into a polymer. Polymers are much more stringent than the ingredients that you will find in regular nail polish.
This chemical chain reaction is also known as curing; it gives gel nails their desired longevity.
Can I do gel nails at home?
The brilliant thing about gel nails is that you can absolutely do them at home. All you’ll need is both a gel top coat and base coat, a UV or LED nail lamp, and your chosen gel nail polish.
Nowadays, lots of us have opted out of their regular nail polish for a gel one. It will save you a bucketload of money than going to the salon, plus all of the gel polishes I have selected today will last you up to two weeks, and some even three.
The only real difference between the two is that the finish may not last as long as a salon manicure would unless you’ve had a lot of practice or you’re a professional.
Even so, two weeks is a huge upgrade from a couple of chip-free days after using regular nail polish.
What's the difference between gel, acrylic and dip powder?
If you’re a newbie to the nail world, you may ask yourself this question often. But what is the difference?
In reality, there are many differences: gel nail polish is hardened through a chemical reaction triggered by a UV light, whereas an acrylic powder uses a powder mixed with a monomer that creates a malleable paste that is sculpted to make the nail shape.
Acrylic nails will last around a month, or even two, depending on your nail growth, but they will not come off without acetone.
Nail dipping powder is an acrylic nail powder that is often tinted and skips the monomer. Instead, it is activated with a clear liquid painted on like nail polish, it is similar to acrylic without the sculpting, and it is less harsh on natural nails.
All types take some practice to apply, but the main difference between gel and dipping powder is that dipping powder lasts longer and is much more gentle on natural nails.
How to remove gel nail polish
When it comes to removing gel nail polish, it isn’t as easy as wiping with some nail polish remover; it is a much longer process that requires some patience.
But let’s break it down, shall we?
First things first, you will want to soak your nails in a bowl of pure acetone or gel polish remover for 20 minutes to loosen the nail bond(pop a Netflix show you’re binging, and once that’s finished they should be ready).
After the acetone has weakened the gel, it should be much easier to push it off with a cuticle pusher tool. If it doesn’t come off quickly, then that’s an indication that it needs longer.
Whatever you do, don’t pry or pick off your nails; this will damage the nail bed and nail plate underneath.
The soaking time may differ between different gel nail polish brands, but with some patience, you should be able to easily remove your gel nail polish without damaging your nails underneath.
What about chipping?
You should always remove your gel polish as soon as the chipping starts, or they start to lift as it may cause infections underneath the nail. No one wants fungus-infected nails after a manicure.
Don’t forget to moisturize your nails after your manicure with some cuticle oil, especially after soaking in pure acetone. It will prevent your hands from drying out and cracking.
Frequently asked Questions
Will it wreck my natural nails?
The gel is much harsher on nails than your standard polish but not as harsh as acrylics. It needs a rough surface to stick on for the gel to work, which will thin your nails. Additionally, removing gel nail varnish can require soaking in acetone which excessive exposure can be damaging to the nails.
Should I get a UV or LED lamp?
When it comes to longevity and curing, the best way to go is to dry your nails in between layers with either a UV or LED lamp, LED lamp. But what’s the difference? UV lamps emit a broader spectrum of wavelengths, whereas LED is much narrower, targeted, and dry quicker.
By curing your nails, they’ll not only last longer, but they’re less likely to chip. Here are the top-rated UV LED lamps on Amazon.
What’s the best gel nail polish brands for beginners?
My favorite gel polish brand has to go to Aimeili thanks to their ease of application, longevity, and color pigmentation.
It is also a cheaper option for you; if you are a beginner, I recommend trying this gel polish brand or Gellen nail polishes. They will last a long time with no signs of chipping.
What is the best shellac gel nail polish brands?
In my personal opinion, I feel that CND is brilliant for both longevity and for giving flawless colors; it also gives you that gel-like feel and durability without being damaging to the nail.
In this guide today we have gone through my top ten picks of gel nail polish brands that will not only give you that flawless finish but that will last longer than ordinary polish, some even last up to 21 days chip-free.
Whether you’re here for a subtle glam, or to stand out from the crowd my pick has thought of everything.
Overall my favorite on my list has to be Gelish for their wide range of color choices and salon-quality at the comfort of your own home, they also last up to 3 weeks, therefore, making number one spot.
You’ll notice that even the most professional ordinary polish can chip easily that’s why I switched to gel and never looked back.
These products above are the top gel nail polish brands that were built to last even while giving you a range of colors to choose from. I have also listed a selection that won’t need curing to make sure you have a wide variety to choose from.
Pick from any of my these you’ll definitely have the salon finish you’re dreaming of.
Cheif Editor & Nail Technician Expert
Jess Rowley, a veteran nail tech, has been studying beauty over the last 11 years and has completed the nail technology program in California. Watching the latest trends in beauty, Jess searches for the highest quality products that make your nails feel loved.