New Holy Grail? Essie Gel Couture Polish and Top Coat

While browsing at Ulta (because who doesn’t love a good Ulta browse), I saw the new Essie Gel Couture display and thought I would give it a shot. Here is what Essie claims:

 “Essie Gel Couture provides up to 14 days of color and shine in unique, couture-inspired shades. No lamp required. Easy removal.”


I am inherently skeptical of these “gel” nail polish kits because similar products have chipped on me just as quickly as regular nail polish has in the past. Speaking of, Regular nail polish usually only makes it a day or two on me without significant chipping. I am pretty hard on my hands– I don’t have a dishwasher so I handwash everything…and as a medical student (anyone who works in a hospital will be able to relate here), I use alcohol-based foam hand sanitizer probably 50+ times a day in addition to frequent hand washing.

I have gotten the salon “shellac” UV light manicures in the past and they really do last, but they destroyed my nails and they are $$$. Plus, I like the option of being able to change my polish color whenever I feel like it.

I originally purchased the shade # 260 Flashed and the clear top coat. I applied 2 coats of Flashed on bare nails, letting them mostly dry in between layers, and then 1 coat of the top coat.

So…here are my thoughts on this product:

The good: 

  • I got 5 full days of wear out of this polish before the edge wear started to annoy me and I wanted to take it off. I think it would have lasted longer on someone who wasn’t bathing it in alcohol-based hand sanitizer multiple times a day. I was pretty impressed by 5 days though.
  • The brush is wide (wider than the usual Essie brushes) and very easy to apply to the nail evenly without getting all over your fingers. I wish I had the finesse of the folks who create #nailporn…but for me, not having paint all over my hands and no smudges = success.
  • The formula wasn’t streaky at all, it spread very evenly and made my job a lot easier.
  • The shade I used (#260 Flashed) was gorgeous (and happened to match my stethoscope perfectly!). It was pretty opaque, and I could probably have gotten away with only one layer.
  • It removed very easily with regular nail polish remover.

The not-so-good:

  • The alcohol in the hand sanitizer definitely had a weird interaction with the top coat. It made it feel kind of “gummy” at times…but when I rinsed my hands with soap and water it went away. However, the shine of the top coat definitely was diminished with hand sanitizer use, so I think it was degrading it a bit.
  • On day 4 I did start to notice some significant edge wear, and it bugged me enough to remove at the end of day 5. I can’t imagine keeping it on for 14 days.

Final Thoughts:

This was not a perfect product and it didn’t last for 14 days…BUT it lasted 4-5 good days on me despite the intensive hand sanitizing and washing and that is much longer than any other conventional nail polish. For me, this was good enough to purchase a more neutral light pink shade (#40 Fairy Tailor) for when I can’t get away with the bold red. Watch the instagram for updates on how that looks and wears on!

These polishes retail for $11.50 each or certain shades come in a duo that includes a color and the topcoat for $18.50 at specific retailers like Kohls and Macy’s. If you purchase through Ulta, remember to use your $3.50 off coupon, and if you order online, don’t forget to use Ebates*!

I really do think that this would last for quite a long time on someone who didn’t have quite as much hand sanitizer exposure! Has anyone else tried this?

Let me know what you think!


If you don’t have Ebates yet, you can sign up through my referral link here* to automatically get $10 cash back. Ebates is a free site that allows you to earn a certain amount of cash back for the online shopping you would be doing anyways. Every 3 months, it sends you the amount of cash back you have “earned” in a gift card to the store of your choice! Right now Ulta is 3% cash back, Sephora is 4%, and Macy’s is 10% for example. I’ve been able to use it on things like textbooks and tools I need for school as well, and those add up pretty quickly!

If referral links make you uncomfortable, you can check out the standard link at



2 thoughts on “New Holy Grail? Essie Gel Couture Polish and Top Coat

  1. Great review! I have the same issues with my polish….2 days max and it chips on me too. I was looking into Essie for their gel polish, so it is really good to hear from someone who put it through a good test! Thanks for doing the leg work 🙂 Tal xo

    Liked by 1 person

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