Essie Gel Couture Polish Review

I’m a total manicure freak, let’s just go ahead and get that part out of the way. I do my nails every single week, manicuring and painting them on my own. In case you missed it, you can find my entire at-home manicure routine here. Along with my huge nail polish collection, I’ve tried a ton of brands that claim you can get a gel manicure at home without having to cure them under a salon lamp. I have had zero luck with all of the brands I have tried and usually, I’m not a big Essie polish fan. Most of the polishes I’ve tried from them have chipped within 3 days and I expect much more from such a high-end brand. But since they’ve come out with their own gel line, I’ve been hearing many good things about it and decided to give it a try. It claims to last an entire 14 days, so I put that to the test and I’m ready to share all the pictures!
For a base coat, I used my favorite Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Hardener. I applied two coats of the Gel Couture polish in the shade Fairy Tailor and then finished with the Gel Couture top coat. Two coats looked great and I even would’ve been happy with just one coat for a more natural look as well. I bought mine in a two pack for $18.50, but there were only two shades available. If you wanted any other shades, you’d be looking at $11.50 each or $23 for the set. I’ve heard you really need the specific top coat with this one, so I went for it all to get the best experience testing it as I could.

This is one of my favorite shades to wear and I loved the way it looked the first day. On my initial application, I was very happy with the wand. Essie claims this as their first curve-hugging brush, but I’ve seen the same thing in many other brands. It really does make it a lot easier to apply! The packaging is cute, but it’s pretty inconvenient if you like warming up the polish by rolling the bottle in your hands like I do. I could immediately tell the polish felt thicker and it felt nice on my nails. The top coat also created a lot of shine, which I was very happy about.
The two pictures below are what my nails looked like after 7 days of wear. They still looked pretty good, with an exception of one little chip on my first finger. It was obvious by my cuticles how much my nails had grown over the week, but nothing too significant unless you looked closely. I did start seeing a bit of bubbling under the polish at the 5 day mark, which worried me quite a bit. With a darker color, you wouldn’t be able to see the bubbling as much but the nail growth would be more obvious.
To be honest, I wanted to take the polish off after 9 days. Once it started wearing down, things got ugly quick. By 10 days, all of my nails were bubbling somewhere whether it was by the cuticles or the edge of the nail. The polish started getting more fragile and began to chip when I was doing even the smallest tasks, like putting away laundry. I didn’t do anything crazy like a ton of dishes or scrubbing the house because I wanted to see how long it would last on its own without being bothered. The next set of pictures was on day 10 so you can see how quickly things turned for the worst compared to three days before.
Like I said, at that point I just wanted to take the polish off. Not only was it looking pretty ugly, but I was so ready to cut my nails short again (mine grow so fast!) and I was ready to switch to a different color. Not that the color is bad by any means, I was just getting bored of it since I’m used to switching it up every week on the dot. But I left it on the entire 14 days to complete this experiment as I wanted and I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves...
By the two week mark, I had completely lost an entire nail of polish on my first finger and was about to lose it on the other first finger as well. My nails had grown significantly, so the space at the cuticles is very obvious. I had chipping on all of my nails with an exception of both my ring fingers and pinkies. I think this looks pretty bad as it is and can only imagine what it would’ve looked like at the 14 day mark if I was wearing a dark polish.

Overall, I think it was a nice polish and an upgrade from the quality I’m used to getting from Essie. However, because I was ready to take it off at the 9 day mark I don’t think it’s really worth such a high price. It didn’t damage my nails at all when I took it off with my usual nail polish remover, which I was very happy about. If you don’t mind the price or don’t change your polish every seven days, then I think you might like this. As far as drugstore gel polishes go, this is the best one I’ve tried. I just don’t think the 14 day claim is very honest, as you can tell by the pictures.

~Mani Monday~
Since I had been wearing such a light and natural color for the past two weeks, I wanted something a little darker and more bold. I chose to go with Revlon’s High Stakes, which is (ironically) another drugstore gel polish. This one doesn’t have any specific day claim for how long it will last, but I’ve noticed chipping on it in the past around the 5th or 6th day of wear. However, this one is also at a much more affordable price.
What’s on your nails this week?


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