The Best Gel Nail Polishes, According to the Internet

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Best Gel Nail Polishes

Byrdie / Sabrina Jiang

The at-home manicure is a notoriously tricky endeavor. There's a lot that goes into it, between having to paint a small area with your non-dominant hand, 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

4.9
Essie Gel

 Ulta

What We Like
  • Goes on smoothly

  • Long-lasting

  • Wide range of shades

  • Pretty packaging

What We Don't Like
  • Can chip

Who else recommends it? Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and Who What Wear all picked the Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish.

What do buyers say? 92% of 2,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

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

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro in Beachin'

Sephora

What We Like
  • Made with high-quality ingredients

  • Applies smoothly

  • Dries quickly

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

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 Nail Polish

4
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish

Amazon

What We Like
  • Smooth polish coagulates upon application, keeping it neater

  • Flat, angled brush

  • Inexpensive

  • Wide shade range

What We Don't Like
  • 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

Vernis Gel Shine and Long Wear Nail Lacquer

 Courtesy of Nordstrom

What We Like
  • High-gloss finish

  • Intense colors

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • 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

OPI Infinite Shine Nail Polish

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Resists chipping

  • Beautiful neutral shades

What We Don't Like
  • 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 and 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

Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Enamel

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Vibrant colors

  • Inexpensive

  • Dries quickly

What We Don't Like
  • The smell could bother some people

This budget-friendly polish combines base coat and color in one application so you can achieve 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

Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer

 Courtesy of Khol's

What We Like
  • Rich, glossy shades

  • Free of formaldehyde and other ingredients

  • Nice shade range

What We Don't Like
  • 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

OPI Infinite Shine ProStay Gloss

Courtesy of OPI 

What We Like
  • Works with any base color

  • Resists chipping

  • Boosts shine

What We Don't Like
  • 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

Nailsinc

 Courtesy of Sephora

What We Like
  • Nourishing formula

  • High-gloss finish

  • Brush makes it easy to apply

What We Don't Like
  • 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

Wet n Wild 1 Step WonderGel Nail Color

Courtesy of Walgreens

What We Like
  • Dries quickly

  • Inexpensive

  • High-gloss finish

What We Don't Like
  • Can chip

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

OOO Polish
What We Like
  • Beautiful shade

  • Reasonably priced

  • Long-lasting

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • 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 percent 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 contact@byrdie.com and we will evaluate the product ASAP.

How We Researched & Tested

To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, shade range, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. Our team also incorporated their own personal experiences testing products in their own lives. We then used these insights from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. 11 best gel nail polishes for a long-lasting, chip-free manicure. Good Housekeeping. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/nails/g33003945/best-gel-nail-polish

  2. The best gel nail polish for shiny, chip-resistant nails that last (and last). Glamour. https://www.glamour.com/gallery/best-gel-nail-polish

  3. We're just going to say it: these 13 gel polish brands rival a salon manicure. Who What Wear. https://www.whowhatwear.com/best-gel-nail-polish-brands

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