Last updated: 16/10/2022

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We all love to paint our nails to perfection. The problem is that with our busy daily routines, we rarely have time to give our nails the attention they need. Gel nail polish has, therefore, become one of our best allies, as it can help to maintain colour for a long time.

Gel nail polish, also called semi-permanent nail polish, has an acrylic base which makes the colour a lot longer lasting. With this kind of nail colour, you can maintain a perfect manicure for around three weeks. If you’d like to know more about this kind of nail polish, read on!


  • Gel nail polish is made from acrylic, a material guaranteed to last longer. The average duration of this type of nail polish is three weeks, although it depends on your lifestyle and the natural growth of your nails. There’s no doubt they are the most durable polishes you can find.
  • This type of nail polish can be aggressive to our nails, so it is very important to take care of them and keep them healthy. To achieve the best results with a gel nail polish it is essential to use a base coat and a topcoat, which fixes the polish for a longer duration.
  • One of the most important issues when using gel nail polish is removal. If you use products designed for this, you will avoid damaging the nail. It is also essential to consider nail type, polish quality, composition and features, and compatibility with the drying lamp.

The best gel nail polish: Our Picks

The growing demand for gel nail polish has led to an increasing number of brands to choose between. Below you will find a selection of the best gel nail polish products and all the details you should know in order to make an informed choice.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about gel nail polish

The recent emergence of gel nail polish has been met with some scepticism. This is natural because a nail polish which lasts for three weeks without chipping or polishing seems too good to be true. Below, we’ll address the most frequently asked questions to resolve all your doubts.

When buying gel nail polish, quality is a key consideration.
(Source: Marina Kirezhencova: 47346228/

What is a gel nail polish and what are its advantages?

Gel nail polish is made with an acrylic base, a plastic compound designed to extend the lacquer duration on the nails. In addition, drying by UV or LED rays allows the polish to instantly adhere to the nail. With a gel nail polish, you can achieve a manicure with a professional finish.

However, like everything, gel nail polish has advantages and disadvantages. Although the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far, you may still have your doubts, which is understandable. Take a look at the table of pros and cons of this type of nail polish below and see for yourself.

  • Long duration
  • Comfortable
  •   Professional appearance
  • Ideal if you are time poor
  • Price
  • More difficult to care for your nails
  • Complicated to remove

The only obstacles are price, care and removal. Regarding the price, the growing demand for this type of nail polish has led to the emergence of new brands suited to all budgets. And regarding care and removal, you only need to find the right products.

Does gel nail polish damage the nail?

No, with some qualifications. These polishes will not damage the nail as long as we use quality products. It will also be important to correctly follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application. And, of course, their recommended steps for care and maintenance, not only for the polish but for your nails as well.

If you follow the instructions you should have no issues and your nails will not be affected by gel nail polish. Although you may think the results of using a good or bad quality nail polish are similar, in the long run, you will see that using a good quality gel nail polish makes a great deal of  difference.

Thresa SulistioFounder and Owner, Esther’s Nail Center, USA
“Get yourself a nice and handy cuticle oil, because you often need to keep the nails moisturized as using gel polish can be dehydrating”.

What is the difference between gel nail polish and traditional polish?

You can say the main difference is the duration of each since gel nail polish offers perfect results for around three weeks. Their gel texture makes them more flexible and resistant, preventing peeling or damage over time.

If we leave duration aside (as this is pretty well-known), this is one of the most frequent questions. In addition, you must also consider that there are so-called “long-lasting polishes”. To avoid all doubts, it’s best to compare the three types and know each one’s features.

Permanent Traditional Long-lasting
Duration 3 weeks 5-7 days 7-10 days
Composition Acrylic Lacquer Lacquer
Drying UV Lamp or LED Air Air
FInish +++ + ++ 
Layers Base coat + nail polish + top coat Nail polish Nail polish + top coat

Should we let the nail rest between one permanent manicure and the next?

The answer to this question depends on the quality of the products we use. If the quality of the polishes we use is good, it should not be necessary to rest your nails between one colour and another. In addition, it also depends on how we remove the polish since this can damage the nail.

It is normal to have these concerns. Having polished nails for so long prevents their exposure to sunlight, for example. We are also not letting the nails breathe normally. However, there are products that provide vitamins and nutrients so we don’t have to let them rest.

Why does gel nail polish not always last the same?

The answer is very simple because the duration of gel nail polish depends on how quickly your nail grows naturally. If your nail does not grow very quickly the nail polish will last longer, and vice versa. Therefore, despite the average duration is three weeks, it can last more or less.

In fact, gel nail polish is designed to remain attached to the nail longer. What happens is that, as the nail grows, the base moves and polish can be detached from the sides. We will also see that nail growth will be obvious in the upper part, attached to the cuticle.

There are products which can nourish the nail with vitamins and nutrients so you don’t need to have a break between one manicure and the next.
(Source: Dmytro Titov: 39880763/

How do I remove the polish?

You should know that gel nail polish takes a little longer to be removed than traditional polish. Normally, it takes 15 minutes. To remove the nail polish you will need a nail polish remover suitable for the brand you use. Not all nail polish removers will remove all nail polish. There are two different ways to do it:

  • You can pour acetone in a bowl and dip the nails in. Little by little you will see how it is taking off until it falls completely.
  • Another technique is to put nail polish remover on pieces of cotton wool that you will place on each nail and wait. You can cover the nail with aluminium foil or buy specific cap clips for this.

What care does a permanent manicure require?

As gel nail polish can be a little more aggressive with nails, you should follow specific care advice. A very common practice that is great for the nails is to apply a restorative nutritive serum to promote nail growth and nourish the cuticle. You can do it before you start painting them.

Once you have applied the nail polish, it is highly recommended to use a moisturizing cream to keep your hands and nails hydrated and beautiful. In addition, you can add some treatment with keratin, an essential protein for nail care. There are also products to strengthen the nails and avoid their breaking.

What should I know if I use gel nail polish at home?

The first thing you should know if you want to do a manicure at home is what tools you will need. A permanent manicure kit is essential, that is, a base coat, a polish and a topcoat. In addition, you will need a file, a cuticle remover, a cuticle softener oil and a LED or UV lamp to dry.

Once you have everything you need, you can get down to work. Keep in mind it is essential to have removed all the previous polish before starting to paint the nails again. You will also need a nail polish remover.

Remember that to achieve great looking nail polish you need to first have healthy and strong nails.

Shopping criteria

We’ve solved the most frequent doubts about gel nail polish, but one more could be added. What do I have to consider when buying a gel nail polish? Below, we show you a list of the main purchasing criteria so you can do so safely and confidently.

Fingernail type

There are different types of nails and it’s important that you know yours before deciding whether to use gel nail polish or not and which one. First of all, if we have weak, peeling or brittle nails, try to restore them before considering using gel nail polish, which can damage them more.

Once healthy, there is no problem. We do have a problem if we have oily nails. This type of nail is distinguished by the bad result they have with nail polish, since they don’t allow it to adhere. If this is your nail-type, it is best to buy products to eliminate grease and apply them before the polish.

Gel nail polish gives you the appearance of a professional manicure.
(Source: Marina Kirezhencova: 26585462/


Quality is another of the most important purchasing criteria. And not only for gel nail polish but for any product that we will use on our skin. Nails are a very sensitive area and need special care. Therefore, the more quality products have, the better.

As we mentioned before, this type of polish, if misused, can be harmful to the nail. Therefore, when buying one polish or another, quality must be fundamental. Try to choose well-known brands that have good expert valuations or are used professionally.


Composition of all gel nail polish is usually similar and all contain plastic ingredients such as acrylic. However, it is important to look at the ingredients of the polishes we use for other reasons. For example, we can choose “Cruelty-Free” polishes, which have not been tested on animals.

Or, thinking more about our nails, choose polishes that do not have the most harmful ingredients to our nails and skin. One of these is hydroquinone monomethyl ether (MeHQ), which must have less than 200 ppm (parts per million). Pay close attention to package labels.


We can talk about features or format. The fact is that this is another purchase criteria you must consider. There are polishes in different formats, brush or pen, for example, as we have seen in the recommended products. It is important for you to know and choose the most comfortable one to use.

Nail polish content is also a thing to consider. The ideal bottle size is 15 mL because there is a greater risk of drying with larger containers. Other features to consider are the finish (gloss or matte) or opacity, which will depend on how many layers of polish need to be applied.


Compatibility in gel nail polish is vital. On one hand, and most importantly, we must have a lamp (either LED or UV) compatible with the polish we use. If not, the polish will not dry properly and bubbles or wrinkles will appear. Always check that the polish is compatible with the lamp.

But that’s not it. The polish must also be compatible with the nail polish remover. Although there are “universal” nail polish removers, ideally you should have the same brand for both products. This will make sure the polish is removed easily and avoid nail damage. Most brands have their own nail polish remover.

There are a wide variety colours and effects available when painting your nails.
(Source: Kzenon: 17324711/


Gel nail polish could be the ideal solution for an always-perfect manicure. Its acrylic-based composition, dried with UV or LED lamps, makes sure the polish remains flawless for an average of two to three weeks. Now that is quite an achievement!

You can now be part of this new fashion at home, since the best brands offer everything you need to do your own manicure with gel nail polish. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations and you will achieve a professional finish for your nails for longer and with ease.

If you liked this guide about gel nail polish, share it on social media or leave us a comment.

(Source of the featured image: Belchonock: 97473085/