Easy Home Manicure With New Essie Gel Couture

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.)

Essie Gel Couture Color Collection Glamour
image via glamour.com

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.


Processed with VSCO with s1 preset

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.

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  1. 8.29.16
    Jo said:

    This was a super helpful review! I’m on my way to pick some up this week :)

  2. 8.3.16

    I’ve been waiting for someone to review this polish line! I’ve been looking at a few shades but wanted to know if they were worth the few extra dollars. Next time I’m in Ulta I might pick some up! Thanks for the review and that shade looks great on your skin tone!

    • 8.3.16

      Thank you! I’m hoping the secret is the top coat and that it can be used with other polishes. I’ll keep you guys posted!

      • 11.26.16
        holleigh said:

        Were you able to use Essie Gel Couture top coat with another polish successfully?

  3. 8.2.16

    Love it!!

  4. 8.2.16

    I just bought the new essie gel polish and topcoat this weekend! So excited to try it :)

    • 8.2.16

      Which color did you pick?! :)

      • 8.3.16

        I went with “labels only” — the purpley one — but love your pick too!

        • 8.3.16

          I think you’re going to love it. I’m on day 9 and still no big chips or cracks. (And it’s still shiny!)

  5. 8.2.16

    oh oh, I MUST try the Good to Go top coat. the time necessary for a dry, shiny coat alone is worth the experiment. i typically go with Sally Hansen’s Cleared for Takeoff as my base and top. but it takes quite some time to dry. that just isn’t ideal.

    thanks for the review!

    • 8.2.16

      I have zero patience for drying nails. Definitely try the Good to Go, and I’ll let you know if the new gel formula works over other polish (if it does, I’d get that one instead).

  6. 8.2.16

    Loving your review on Essie gel!! Can’t wait to try it out myself! xx

  7. 8.2.16
    Kayla said:

    Can’t wait to try this product! I love gel manicures but I hate the hassle of having it taken off. Dropping by the drug store asap for this!

    • 8.2.16

      Ugh, yes, that salon removal is the worst. The salon service will probably last you longer, but for a DIY mani this stuff is legit!

      • 8.3.16
        Kayla said:

        I have scoured stores for this new polish….and apparently my town is behind. Going to order amazon prime style tonight. =)

        • 8.3.16

          Let me know which color you get. :) I’m already itching to add to my collection.

          Currently on day 9 and still going strong!!

          • 8.10.16
            Kayla said:

            Ended up with the same color as you, because I do love it….and because I had to order online since the polish is not to be found in my town. Wanted a guaranteed “like” when it arrives via amazon prime!! =)

  8. 8.2.16

    So many beautiful colors in the collection! Super impressed that your nails looked that good on day 7… those pictures looked more like day 1!