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.


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  1. 2.8.17

    Wow Awesome post 👌🏻.

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    Best Of Beauty 2017 || DRUGSTORE Edition – SUNAINA DAS

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  2. 1.25.17

    They look really nice! I’m hooked on the Sensationail, but I might check out Essie some time :D

  3. 1.15.17

    Im going to have to try these! Looks awesome!

  4. 1.13.17
    mary said:

    just ordered this …works great, dries so fast, yay.
    thanks so much.

  5. 1.13.17
    CJ said:

    This is great information ,thanks Keira!

  6. 1.11.17
    Kim said:

    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!

    • 1.11.17

      Thank you, Kim!! I’m so happy the posts were helpful for you. “Take Me to Thread” is my next purchase. :)

  7. 1.11.17
    mary said:

    ordering now, thanks Keira

  8. 1.11.17
    lotusgurl said:

    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!

    • 1.11.17

      This makes me so happy! I’m so glad the posts were helpful. :) So, which is your favorite color?

  9. 1.9.17

    oh how nice… i’m definitely going to try this….

  10. 1.9.17

    Wow 7-10 days is really impressive for an at-home manicure. Sounds like a great product.

    • 1.10.17

      I’m seriously surprised/impressed every time I use it. I love how easy it is to apply/remove, too.

  11. 1.9.17

    Thanks for the update! I just got my nails done at the salon and am seriously considering getting this product for the future!

    • 1.10.17

      I don’t know what my issue is, but I swear I chip a salon mani by day two EVERY time. It’s definitely worth a try!

      • 1.10.17

        You’re not alone girl 🙈 I’m known for chipping them the same day I got them done haha

  12. 1.9.17

    I’ll have to check these out!!

  13. 1.9.17
    Jen said:

    Is it tricky to take off?

    • 1.10.17

      Good question! I’ve tried other “gel” products that were a pain to remove. But no, it’s super easy. Just like removing regular polish!

  14. 1.9.17

    I am for sure going to try this! I am typing with chipped nail polish on that lasted only 2 days.

    • 1.10.17

      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!

  15. 1.9.17

    I love these too! I was skeptical bc of the price but they’re worth it!

    • 1.10.17

      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.

  16. 1.9.17
    Kayla said:

    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!!

    • 1.10.17

      “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?

      • 1.10.17
        Kayla said:

        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.