By Tomboy KC | Photography by SUKILYNN
There is no manicure like a gel manicure. It lasts longer, looks better and is less likely to mess up when you inadvertantly (and inevitably) bump it against something three seconds after you’ve finished. But like anything good, there’s always a downside. In this case, it comes in the form of a UV light and about $40 in cash.
Seeing the opportunity, nail companies have started coming out with at-home gel kits to try and harness the long-wearing and quick-drying abilities of gel without the need for UV lights or an expensive trip to the nail salon. Sound too good to be true? We wanted to find out.
While we have read about multiple gel-inspired nail kits on the market, we tried the two we had heard the most about: The Essie Gel Couture and Deborah Lippmann’s Gel Pro Lab.
- Essie Gel Couture – We were a little hesitant to try this one because Essie’s in-salon gel lacquers are not our favorite – in our experience they peel up at the sides rather quickly. But it is Essie and they are our go-to when it comes to traditional polish, so we had to give it a try. Essie’s formula doesn’t require a basecoat. According to their application instructions, all you need are two coats of Gel Couture Color and the Gel Couture Topcoat. We are happy to report that, much to our surprise, the gel lasts significantly longer than a traditional manicure and comes off easily with regular remover (if you’ve ever tried removing a salon gel manicure yourself, you know how key this is). Verdict: Recommend. We didn’t try this one with our own nail polish, but would be interested to hear how the topcoat holds up with our OPI. Anyone out there tried it?
- Deborah Lippmann’s Gel Lab Pro – This was the brand we were most excited to try because we love the quality of Deborah Lippmann’s polishes. Lippmann’s set includes a Gel Lab Pro Basecoat and a Gel Lab Pro Topcoat that they reccommend using over a Gel Lab Pro Color. While we would recommend over a traditional manicure, this combo didn’t hold up as well as the Essie (although, who’s to say we didn’t have a particular hand-straining week when we tried it). That said, we did try this one over regular nail polish as well and that didn’t seem to affect the quality or the durability of the set. And in our book, being able to use polish you already invested in is a huge benefit.
We are happy to report that, much to our surprise, the gel lasts significantly longer than a traditional manicure and comes off easily with regular remover.