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The at-home manicure is a notoriously tricky endeavor. There's a lot that goes into it, between the having to paint a small area with your non-dominant hand and the impatiently waiting for the polish to dry and then accidentally smudging it. Once your nails are done, you go do the dishes and suddenly they're chipped.
A long-lasting manicure doesn't just exist underneath the UV lights at a nail salon. We're talking about these UV-less gel nail polishes. They're formulated to be ultra-durable and withstand chipping for at least a week, and they come in really pretty colors.
Keep scrolling to see the best gel nail polishes.
Best Overall: Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish
Goes on smoothly
Wide range of shades
These polishes boast both display-worthy packaging and a stellar formula that goes on without streaking or bubbling. The best part: It really does last up to two weeks.
Shades: 43 | Size: 0.5 fl. oz | Finish: Shimmer, shine | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Non-Toxic: Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro
Made with high-quality ingredients
This polish is infused with ingredients that are good for your nails, like green tea extract, biotin, and omega-6 fatty acids. The formula applies smoothly, dries quickly, and is long-lasting.
Shades: 18 | Size: 0.5 fl. oz | Finish: Shimmer, shine | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Shade Range: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel
Smooth polish coagulates upon application, keeping it neater
Flat, angled brush
Wide shade range
Takes hours to fully set
This polish has a slightly thick formula that distributes well thanks to the wide brush. It also comes in a wide range of colors (we're talking really, really wide), from light neutral pinks to bold blues. When combined with the corresponding top coat, it can sustain up to a week of chip-free wear.
Shades: 64 | Size: 0.5 fl. oz | Finish: Shimmer, shine | Cruelty-Free: No
What Our Testers Say
"I’m a big fan of the shiny top coat—it’s thick, easy to apply, and similar in texture to a professional gel. If your polishing skills are on point, you can definitely achieve a glossy gel manicure that looks professional-grade." — Kelsey Clark, Product Tester
Best Bold: Dior Vernis Gel Shine & Long Wear Nail Lacquer
Not a wide shade range
Vibrant and glossy are the top adjectives that come to mind for this lacquer. Reviewers are also fans of the wide brush that makes for a streak-free application. Once dry, expect it to far outlast your regular mani.
Shades: 10 | Size: 0.3 fl. oz | Finish: Shimmer, shine | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Neutrals: OPI Infinite Shine Nail Polish
Beautiful neutral shades
Can be difficult to apply evenly
This polish is a non-streaky, super-shiny lacquer that comes in more than 60 shades and stays looking fresh for up to 10 days. We are particularly big fans of the nude/neutrals range for a clean and classic mani.
Shades: 11 | Size: 0.5 fl. oz | Finish: Shine | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Budget: Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Polish
Could last longer
This budget-friendly polish combines base coat and color in one application so you can master a salon-quality mani at home even on a time crunch.
Pro tip: Apply this nail polish in thin layers to minimize drying time. Follow with the accompanying top coat for a manicure that stays shiny and chip-free far longer than its regular polish counterparts.
Shades: 7 | Finish: Shine | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Glossy: Butter London Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer
Rich, glossy shades
Free of formaldehyde and other ingredients
Nice shade range
A little expensive
This polish comes in a range of super-pigmented, high-shine shades that look freshly painted for over a week. Like all Butter London polishes, this one is formulated without formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, or TPHP.
Shades: 35 | Size: 0.4 fl. oz | Finish: Shimmer, shine | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Top Coat: OPI Infinite Shine ProStay Gloss Top Coat
Works with any base color
Can be messy to apply
Turn any nail color into gel polish with this natural light-activated top coat. It imparts a glossy, high-shine finish that's chip-resistant for up to 11 days.
Shades: Clear | Size: 0.5 fl. oz | Finish: Shine | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Strengthening: Nails Inc Gel Effect Nail Polish
Brush makes it easy to apply
Must be used with base and top coat
This high-shine polish is long-lasting and conditioning. It's formulated to mimic the effects of a salon gel manicure and is made with a rare flower extract that works to strengthen your nails.
Shades: 4 | Size: 0.5 fl. oz | Finish: Shine | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Drugstore: Wet n Wild 1 Step Wonder Gel Nail Color
Two coats of this long-lasting polish are all you need—no top coat or base coat required. In the hallmark of a truly good nail polish, it dries really quickly.
Shades: 8+ | Size: 0.5 fl. oz | Finish: Shine | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Brown Nude: Triple O Polish Benin-GEL
Requires UV light
Okay, so this polish does require a UV light, but it was too good not to mention, and you can purchase this at-home UV lamp to cure the polish yourself! If you have brown skin, then you know the traditional implication of the word "nude" doesn't always apply, so this long lasting brown nude is a gem. With a mission to diversify nail care, you can always feel confident that OOO Polishes will look great on dark skin.
Shades: 1 | Finish: Shine | Cruelty-Free: Yes
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough gel polishes from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.