Best Gel Nail Polish [Review] in 2021
written by nail expert Jess Rowley
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Have you been flooded with options and struggling to find a quality gel nail polish that’ll tick all your boxes?
Trust me girl you’re not alone.
I’ve spent hours searching too, gathering in all the info to make this experience less confusing for you (there are some beauties in this guide that you’ll definitely need to add to your list.)
With such a massive gap in quality between expensive and cheap products, it can be a challenge at times. Features like ingredients can change your finish from flawless and long-lasting to chipped and streaky if not research correctly.
But wait, let me tell you something…
To make things easier for you I have listed down all the best gel nail polishes that will look at durability, longevity, and finish.
Here’s a tip- if you’re looking for your gel nails to last much longer, I would invest in a UV or LED lamp to cure your nails as it will allow your nails to dry completely through the chemical chain reaction triggered by UV lamps.
My top pick is my favorite gel nail polish ever.
We’ve spent the time so you don’t have to:
The Top Gel Nail Polish Brands
Gelish Soak-Off Gel Polish
Best UV gel nail polish
Sealing the number one spot on my list has to be this beauty. Gelish will give you the salon-quality you crave in the comfort of your own home.
Gelish is one of the first companies to introduce soak off gel and by far the most popular gel polish on the market.
With quick and easy steps: dehydrating the nail with Gelish Ph Bond, base coat, the gel polish itself then a gel topcoat all while being cured with a UV or LED lamp. You’ll have flawless nails in no time.
With over 200 vivid colors to chose from I promise you won’t be stuck for choice.
Not only do these baby’s last long but they’re super high pigmented so you’ll only need to apply one or two layers of your favorite color! With unique, laser-cut bristles the cuticle brush will give you easy and streak-free application. Trust me this is the best gel nail polish.
But here’s the best bit, it can last up to 21 days with zero chips! How cool is that?
- Over 200 vivid and pigmented colors
- Lasts up to 3 weeks without chipping
- Soak off gels
- Goes a long way
- Need to buy PH brand dehydrator, base-coat, and topcoat with this product
Latest deal: Gelish Soak-Off Gel Polish
Elite99 Soak-Off Gel Polish Lacquer
Now if you’re tight on budget but still looking for top quality products then I must introduce you to Elite 99’s polish set.
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.
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!
Not bad for gel at home, right?
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
- Range of different colors
- Longer curing times
Latest deal: Elite99 Soak-Off Gel Polish Lacquer
OPI GelColor Nail Polish
I have always loved OPI for its consistently reliable, long-lasting, vibrant, and wide selection of colors and their gel range is unmatched.
While still being at drug-store prices you get a top-quality product at a fraction of the price.
The nail polish formula itself feels really luxurious and has a super-shiny finish, and the teeny tiny brush is perfect for painting your own nails.
OPI has revolutionized the nail industry with iconic bottles, superior product quality all with unique names for each that you’ll never forget.
You’ll love collecting all the colors knowing you will have an outstanding finish every time. With up to 3 weeks of weightless glossy wear, whether it’s for you at home or for professional use you’ll love the 140 color selection.
But wait, let’s not stop there.
The formula screams luxury, by it being trusted by professionals, leaving a shiny, daring salon-quality finish that will receive all the compliments.
Buying this product along with OPI’s base and topcoat your nails will look flawless for weeks all with super easy application!
- Lasts up to 3 weeks
- Trusted by professionals
- 140+ color selection
- High quality at affordable prices
- None so far
Latest deal: OPI GelColor
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Red Eye
Nothing is more daring and sexy than a flattering red nail polish that matches your outfit perfectly. Say goodbye to chipped nails and hello to flawless and nourished nails.
Sally Hansen may be the answer to your prayers, with the two easy step process color and topcoat which dries in a matter of minutes you’ll have that confidence for that nervous first date or to wow your friends.
Plus you’ll never have to worry about your nails fading in the harsh UV light, this baby can last up to 14 days without any problem.
This high potency nail gel lacquer will perfectly match and complement and mood. Not only is it brilliant for rebuilding nails after acrylics or just nails that won’t grow but it will last super long without chipping.
But best of all, Sally Hanson is completely cruelty-free and guilt-free!
For the price, this product is a complete steal you’ll have to check it out.
- High potency lacquer that will repair nails
- UV protected
- Dries in a matter of minutes
- No need for UV lamp
- People have struggled to return
Latest deal: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel
Essie Gel Couture Longwear Nail Polish
If you’re looking for salon-quality long-wear gel polish, then Essie’s Gel Couture is one of the best. This will give you long-lasting gel-like shine without needing to use the UV lamp.
With two easy steps, Essie is unbeatable. All you need to do is apply 2 coats of your favorite color then a topcoat for shine and protection. Whether you’re looking for a dark-as-night blue, daring red, or a flattering nude you won’t be stuck for a choice.
It even removes like ordinary nail polish, all you need to do is wipe acetone on a cotton pad, no time-consuming soaking in harsh chemicals or scrubbing.
The brushes are designed for precise application and full coverage, it is top quality at a surprisingly affordable price and can last up to 14 days!
- Lasts up to 14 days
- No need to cure with a UV or LED lamp
- Easy removal without harsh soaking
- No need for a basecoat
- May chip before 14 days are up
Latest deal: Essie Gel Couture
Orly Gel FX Nail Polish
best salon nail polish
If there’s anything I’ve learned when buying0 nail varnish is that your nails will never be the same as that ‘fresh out of the salon look’ but lucky for you I’ve got the next best hit.
To save you some money let’s bring salon-quality gel polish to you this will be a brilliant polish for acrylic nails.
Not only is Orly’s gel nail polish is high quality but also long-lasting. It also has antioxidant vitamins A and E and vitamins B5 to prolong and nourish the natural nail.
The kind formula and LED light curing technology means this polish dries in half the time without chipping.
It even lasts up to 2 weeks, cool right?
After a lot of trial and error, you’ll find that painting your nails in the comfort of your own home is not only cheaper it can also be therapeutic, and what a better way to start.
With a wide range of colors, you’ll never be stuck for choice I discovered this gel while searching through Amazon one day and now I’m completely hooked.
- Gel-like look
- LED light curing technology
- Lasts up to 2 weeks
- Salon quality but affordable
- None so far
Latest deal: Orly Gel FX Nail Polish,
Kiara Sky Gel Polish
I can’t wait to tell you about Kiara’s Sky gel, not only is this formula completely bubble-free but it doesn’t shrink during the curing process which will last you up to 2 weeks.
With two quick and easy steps, color coat then topcoat you’ll have a flawless look in no time without the hassle of the base coat unless used for acrylics.
All you need to do is cure with an LED lamp for 30 seconds in between each for UV for a couple of minutes.
It even changes color with your mood or temperature which is a super cool feature.
But best of all Kiera is completely cruelty-free and their products are inspired by a lovely story of their daughter. I and many others absolutely love this product.
- Quick and Easy 2 step method
- No need to apply base-coat unless using on acrylics
- Changes color based on temperature
- Can be quite chunky to apply
Latest deal: Kiara Sky Gel Polish
Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish
You’ll love this product for how care-free and easy it is to use- no lamps, no tools, and no damage. This creative gel-finish will give you that salon finishes you crave, without having to leave the house.
Each bottle has a streak-free, easy application with the 320 bristle formula, it has 10 active ingredients that work tirelessly to give you the best result possible.
Health, Wear & Shine is what this product is renowned for.
All you need to do is apply a base coat, your favorite color then a topcoat, it’s as easy as that.
- No lamps needed
- Easy application
- Range of different colors
- Quite costly
Latest deal: Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish
CND Shellac In Beau
best shellac nail polish brand
CND Shellac is one of the top professional gel polish brands on the market and used by many nail techs. I thought I’d add a shellac option to my list as it’s not as damaging as a gel to the nails as it is with a non-toxic formula.
It can go on without roughening the nail meaning it’s better for the nail overall.
All you need to do is use a base coat, cure in between each layer, and a top coat and with this 3 step process, it’s never been so easy. Plus removing this polish is super easy with acetone.
But wait let me tell you with the 200 bristle brush you will have full coverage and a smooth finish without any uneven coverage.
CND is built to last and will give you that flawless pink look.
- Shellac option
- Healthier for your nails
- Smooth application
- Long -lasting
- Not many color options on Amazon
Latest deal: CND Shellac Beau
Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Polish
If you’re looking for an outrageously rich shine that will last long that won’t fade quickly.
With a high-quality home formula that will color will last up to 7 days, formulated with shea butter and oils that will condition to give you strong nails.
With wide angled brushes that will create smooth, bubble-free coats that will keep your nails glowing for longer. Available in 46 gorgeous shades you won’t be stuck for choice.
With this quick and easy application that will act as a gel in a matter of minutes, you’ll have UV protected salon nails at the comfort of your own home.
- 46 different colors to choose from
- Smooth and bubble-free design
- Formulated with shea butter and oil to conditioning nails
- Needs base coat and top coat
Latest deal: Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy
Best Gel Nail Polish Buyers 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 pigments in the gel 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 polishes for both your home manicure or even for clients. All you’ll need is a UV or LED lamp and a base and topcoat.
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.
Things to check before clicking buy
Ingredients: If you love constantly having a color on your nails I would recommend going to a polish that doesn’t have all the harmful and damaging chemicals as it will keep your nails and nail beds healthy.
The gel can be more harmful than ordinary polish because you need to file your nail bed before use, also they can be much more stripping therefore I would recommend looking for nourishing ingredients that will strengthen and not damage nails.
Whether it requires curing: curing is the process of drying with UV or LED lights causing a chemical reaction that hardens the lacquer in the gel so it will last up to 3 weeks chip-free.
However, if you find that you’ve applied a layer of gel too thickly the UV light may not penetrate through the entire layer to cure properly which could potentially cause a dull layer.
Some gel nails do not require being cured but although they last longer than an everyday polish they won’t last as long as the gel that requires curing.
Longevity: Gel nail polish is built to last and withstand everyday abuse but that being said, you’ll never be able to achieve the same effect that you’ll get in the salon unless you’re a professional. If you do all the right bits intended for gel, such as curing UV light and remembering to put the base and topcoat on the gel can even last to 3 weeks.
Durability: Along with longevity it is also good to check in the comments as to how durable the gel polish can be, your hands take a lot of abuse in everyday life, luckily the majority of nails were built for durability.
Cruelty-free or Vegan: Many gel polish manufacturers have decided nowadays to create products in ways that aren’t harmful to animals. If you’re looking for a top-quality but guilt-free finish then I would suggest going cruelty-free. With a wide range of brands to choose from that are cruelty-free there’s no reason to support brands that use animal testing!
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. In order for the gel to work it needs a rough surface to stick on 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 therefore 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 for beginners? My favorite has to be OPI purely because it’s consistently reliable and long-lasting it is also super affordable making it brilliant for beginners.
What is the best shellac nail polish brand?
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 polish 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.