Last week, on a routine drugstore stop for paper towels and toothpaste, I spotted the new Essie Gel Couture nail polish display and it drew me in like a moth to a flame. I love a DIY mani (see: 6 steps to the perfect home manicure) and I think Essie is one of the best nail polish brands in the biz, so when they launch something new, I’m all in.
I stood in awe of the 42-shade collection for at least five minutes before I settled on Sew Me, an opaque cream caramel rose. The new formula is a two-step process, so I also grabbed the quick-drying top coat. (Side note: Gel Couture is more expensive than the original square bottles we know and love; I paid $11.50 for each at Walgreens, but they’re available as a set for $18.50 at Macy’s.)
The Essie Gel Couture line claims to provide up to 14 days of color and shine with a gel-like finish, without a base coat or UV lamp.
The best part? If you’re practiced manicure do-it-yourselfer, it’s super simple to get a professional-looking result at home.
Start by cleaning the nails with polish remover to clear away any polish residue or natural oil for a clean canvas.
Next, Apply the “luxurious couture color.”
Finally, seal the deal with the specially-formulated Gel Couture top coat.
For a little extra pampering and a spa-like feel, I finished my DIY manicure with Formula X QUENCH cuticle oil (I usually keep this on my nightstand and try to remember to use it on my poor cuticles a few nights a week) and my favorite Lollia ‘Relax’ honey and lavender shea butter hand cream.
My first impressions:
Although a base coat isn’t required, I applied a thin coat of Zoya’s Naked Base Coat as an insurance policy against any possible discoloration.
The twisted bottle is much easier to grip than the original, so it’s comfortable to hold in the palm of your hand while you paint.
I was impressed with streak-free pigmentation of Sew Me; the color was almost completely opaque with the first coat. The updated wider brush has a tapered tip that fits the shape of the nail and makes an even coat a breeze; it’s similar to OPI. I did two thin coats and the color coverage was flawless.
I love the top coat! Essie’s Good to Go quick dry top coat has been a staple in my home manicure kit for years, and this new formula dries just as fast — after about five minutes you’re safe from dents or smudges — but leaves the polish looking shiny and freshly-painted for much longer. I’m going to try the Gel Couture top coat with my original Essie polishes to see if the results are similar and report back.
I can already tell that I won’t get two weeks out of this manicure, but I’m rough on my hands at the flower shop so I don’t expect those kinds of results for myself from any product. These photos were taken on day seven, and besides some minor chipping on the tips of my right hand, it’s still going pretty strong without any major chips, cracks or lifting. There’s still a good amount of shine, too!
I know Essie Gel Couture is pricey for a drugstore nail product, but if you consider the cost of a single salon manicure, the color/top coat duo will pay for themselves in just a couple uses. Plus you’ll get many home manicures/pedicures out of them, so in my option, they’re worth the splurge.