I Can’t Get Enough of This 2-Step Manicure

I blogged about the Essie Gel Couture 2-step manicure system back in August, but wanted to circle back with an update after a few months of regular use.

Here’s the verdict: I. love. it. 

This collection is one of my favorite beauty launches of 2016. It’s pricey for a drugstore nail product, but I think the color + top coat combo is worth every penny if you’re comfortable painting your own nails. If you spend a little extra time exfoliating your hands and finishing up with a good cuticle oil, you’ll get professional-looking results every time. Considering most salon manicures run between $10-20 a pop, it’s a value for the DIY route.

Essie Gel Couture 2-Step System Review, DIY Manicure, New Beauty Launches 2016

Here’s what I love most about the 2-step formula:

  • You can skip a base coat and get straight down to business.
  • It takes five minutes to whip out a mani, from start to dry (I timed it).
  • The polish applies quickly and evenly with the wider “swirl-stem” brush; two coats of color and you’re set.
  • The top coat completely dries to a glassy shine in about about 90 seconds.
  • The shine sticks around longer than any other product I’ve tried.
  • It lasts on my nails for 7-10 days before it starts to show signs of wear.

Don’t just buy the color and skip the Gel Couture top coat! It’s essential for the high shine and long wear time. You can use the Gel Couture top coat with other Essie polishes, but the dry time is substantially longer and it’s more prone to nicks and smudges. (Make sure your color coats are completely dry before applying the Gel Couture top coat.)

Essie Gel Couture Sheer Fantasy Manicure


Sheer Fantasy is my new favorite fuss-free sheer pink for a clean buffed manicure, and Model Clicks is an awesome 90s-inspired raisin/dark wine shade that I love for both manis and pedis.


About Keira Lennox

I’m a small town girl from the sunshine state with an affinity for bookstores, beauty counters and unfussy style.

I spend my days running my flower shop, and my nights blogging about what I love and what I wear.

(Or watching Netflix and drinking wine.)

29 thoughts on “I Can’t Get Enough of This 2-Step Manicure

  1. Keira, after your recommendation in August, I got “Sheer Fantasy” and “Take me to Thread.” I can do my own manicures at a time totally convenient to me. Also, no matter how clean a salon is, unless they sterilize that little bowl for soaking your fingers in, one is at risk for an infection. Regarding price, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent both came out with Gel polish top coats a few years ago…they were approximately $25 a bottle. I tried both of those, and like Essie much better. As you said, the brush makes it very easy to apply and achieve a great result.
    Love your style and blog!

  2. I went out and bought Essie after reading your other blog post about it, and I’m in love. I now have almost every color–I just use CVS coupons since it is indeed super pricey. It dries quickly, and I don’t see signs of wear for at least 7-10 days. Remarkable. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ugh, isn’t that so frustrating? I’m prone to chipping and peeling, too — I think I have “oily” nail beds or something — so I always swipe a little polish remover or acetone over my nails (even if they’re polish-free) before I get started just to make sure they’re clean and dry. Definitely give it a try!

    1. Totally agree! Especially if you take the extra time to prep and make sure your nails are completely clean. I’m so impressed with them and haven’t used any of my other polishes since I started using the GC.

  3. I have yet to find this polish in a drugstore, the only place I’ve seen it in person is ulta. That said, I’m obsessed and I agree about all the pluses you wrote about. Mine looks fairly worn after a week, but I’m a mom of a two year old and spend a lot of time washing things for small people. But I agree whole heartedly. I love this stuff!!

    1. “Washing things for small people” made me smile. :) I’ve had the best luck with ‘Sheer Fantasy’ for longest wear time; I think because it’s so light it camouflages chips really well. What’s your fave shade?

      1. I think the favorite so far is surrounded by studs. I just bought sheer fantasy and I’m going to have to try it. Do you feel like two coats gives you good enough coverage with such a light color? Another fav of mine is gala-vanting. I enjoy the dark colors in winter.

What do you think?