This Essie Gel Couture review first appeared on the blog when the 2-step manicure system launched back in the summer of 2016. I rediscovered it at the end of last year, and I wanted to revive this post from the archives!
Here’s the gist: I. love. it. Essie Gel Couture is 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 with an exfoliating hand scrub, cuticle remover and a nice cuticle oil, you’ll get professional-looking results every time. Considering most salon manicures run between $10-20 a pop, it’s a great value for the DIY route. (Find more of my home manicure tips here!)
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 manicure, from start to dry (I timed it).
- The polish applies quickly and evenly with the wider “swirl-stem” brush; apply 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.)
Sheer Fantasy is my favorite fuss-free sheer pink for a clean buffed manicure. Gala-Vanting is an awesome 90s-inspired raisin/dark wine shade that I love for both manis and pedis.