Are Gel-Like Nail Polishes Worth Their Money?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish, Manhattan Super Gel Nail Polish, Essie Gel Coutue Nail Polish
Painting your nails is a hassle. There, I´ve said it. I hate doing my nails... But then I love how they look with a great colour on. So I fight my way through a nail polish procedure about two times a week. In the past year or so gel-like nail polishes have been popping up from many brands promising up to 14 days of perfect wear. That would surely make my life a lot easier! So guess how intrigued I was by the concept of long-lasting nail polishes that work without UV-light. I´ve gone and bought gel-like nail polishes from three different brands and thoroughly tested them all.

Essie Gel Couture

Essie Gel Couture

These nail polishes are said to last up to 12 days and you´re meant to apply the top coat every two days to ensure their shine. Currently there are 29 shades available, so you´ll definitely find every shade you need in your normal life. Each nail polish costs €11,95 but I think they were only about €9 when I bought them a year ago (maybe the price increased since then).

My experience: The colour I went for was definitely not opaque in one layer and even seemed a bit patchy. Even with two layers it wasn´t fully opaque. For my liking I´d need at least three layers but for comparability I stuck with two. I noticed that each layer dried really quickly which was lovely. On a random side note I also really love the packaging which seems so different yet elegant!
The first finger started chipping off on the first day. Unsurprisingly it was my right pointer finger but it wasn't anything too major. On the third day I could already see a tiny bit of the top of my nails on all fingers. On the fourth day I definitely had enough of the top coat. It stinks insanely and made the nail polish really thick. It also made the edges look really gross after a few additional layers. After 7 full days I took the nail polish off (which went very smoothly) because I felt that my nails looked rank.
I´m pretty sure you could get the promised 12 days of wear as there was only one big chip off that I could easily conceal with a layer of topcoat. You just won´t get that I-just-got-my-nails-did look for all of the 12 days. Also I´ll say that this nail polish mildly stained my nails.

Manhattan Super Gel Nail Polish and Top Coat

Manhattan Super Gel

Manhattan offers one of the cheapest gel-like nail polishes with each shade costing only €3,85. They're supposed to last for up to 14 days and they´re websites states that they come in 8 shades. However, Ive found up to 12 shades in drugstores.

My experience: This was the messiest nail polish to apply. I´ve had to try it three different times to even keep the polish on my nails afterwards. The nail polish is streaky and definitely not opaque in one layer. It even is slightly crumbly. Even after a second layer and the top coat I´ve had air bubbles and crumbles on almost every nail. These nail polishes take an insanely long time to dry. For the first two times I thought they were dry after about 2 hours but then I went and still ruined them by doing nothing or going to bed.
Waking up after my third trial only one nail was already smudged so I just went with it. However, all of my nails already had tiny cracks on them. Unsurprisingly, they then only lasted about 3 days before the nail polish was chipping all over and just didn´t look good anymore. At least, it didn´t stain my nails.

Sally hansen Miracel Gel Nail Polish

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

These are possible the most hyped gel-like nail polishes. I think they were also one of the first on the market. Again, these are supposed to last up to 14 days. Each shade costs €11,85. With 81 different shades they definitely offer the biggest selection and variety of colours. You´ll definitely find every shade you could ever need and even a few effect shades.

My experience: The appliance was quite easy although it did take a longer time to dry than a normal nail polish. I applied the top coat after about an hour and the brush still went orange. This is the first gel-like nail polish that was actually completely opaque in two layers. Still, it wasn´t really shiny until I applied the top coat. Again, the top coat stinks insanely!!
After two days I could already see the tips of all my nails and on my right pointer finger a part had chipped off. On the third day bigger parts of my pointer fingers and middle fingers had chipped off. I then took it off on the fourth day because I couldn´t stand going outside like this.

from left to right: Essie, Sally Hansen, Manhattan

My personal favourite out of the three has to be the Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish because it lasted the longest and had the smallest amount of hassle (even with applying the top coat every two days). The Manhattan Super Gel Nail Polish is definitely my least favourite as it took me three times to even leave it on my nails. I will say though that none of these would get more than a 2.5/5 rating from me. I like the colour selection of all three with Sally Hansen being the best one. But with the best nail polish lasting only 7 days I can definitely save myself the hassle and cost of gel-like nail polishes. If you buy a good quality normal nail polish for less than half he price it´ll last you just as long! So it´s a big thumbs down from me for all of these, sorry!

Have you tried any of these yet? What´s your favourite nail polish shade right now?


  1. It sounds like gel-like nail polishes really aren't worth the money, I don't think I will try them any time soon. The Essie seemed to have an okay lasting time but Essie nail polishes last quite long anyway, mine usually last about 5 days, so it's not really worth the money. One of my friend using gel-like nail polish but she has a lamp for it I think (don't quote me on that) and she says it works really well. xx

    1. Sadly, they really aren´t. It´s so sad though because Essie have brought out a new gel collection of nude shades which are stunning but I really don´t want to spend the extra money!
      There are some gel sets that use UV light which seem to work really well. I might try one of those sometime!
      xx Lisa

  2. I really struggle with gel nail polishes because they never seem to work as well on my nails, I hate chips but I also don't love paying the price for gel nails! It's a shame that some of these were a bit hit and miss but hey you gotta try them otherwise you just don't know! Really informative post!xx

    Honeypot Blogs

    1. Thank you lovely! Yep, it´s definitely hit and miss and these are all not my favourite. Maybe there´s some other brand out there that does the trick though ;)
      xx Lisa


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