15 Best Gel Nail Polish Brands You’ll LOVE

best gel nail polish, gel nails, gel nails at home, gel polish

Gel nail polish has changed what we expect from nail polish. Whether you want to start doing your own gel nails at home or you’re looking to improve the gel manicure service you offer as a professional, using the best gel nail polish brand for you is essential to a flawless, long-lasting manicure. If you’re new to doing your own gel nails, a gel nail kit gives you everything you need to get started with one purchase.

There’s a huge jump in quality from cheap gel polish to the trusted names in the industry. The market is flooded with options so let’s go over the pros and cons of the best gel nail polish brands around today.

What Are the Best Gel Nail Polish Brands?

Gelish nail polish bottles Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Used by professionals
  • Wide range of colors and finishes
  • Lasts three weeks
Price: $11.70 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Silver holographic nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lasts two week or more
  • Often comes with free matching polish
  • Wide color range
Price: $14.15 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Set of Gellen nail polishes Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Cheap
  • Lasts nearly two weeks
  • Wide range of colors
Price: $27.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Set of Aimeili nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Affordable
  • Lasts two weeks or more
  • Fun colors and effects
Price: $15.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Vibrantly colored Modelones nail polish bottles Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Smooth application
  • Fast curing times
  • Variety of finishes like glitter or mood
Price: $17.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Blue glitter nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Affordable
  • Lasts about two weeks
  • Fun, bright glitters
Price: $6.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Makartt gel colors Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Affordable
  • Trendy colors
  • Heavily pigmented
Price: $42.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Bright purple nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Affordable
  • Lasts about two weeks
  • Trendy colors and effects
Price: $6.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Laguna Moon UV nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Great for beginners
  • Wider range of finishes
  • Doesn't need many coats
Price: $15.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
23-Piece Beetles Gel set Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Less chemical smell than some
  • Includes glossy and mat top coats
  • Range of effects like duo-chrome glitter
Price: $25.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Red nail polish bottles with glitter swatches Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Wide range of colors
  • Long-lasting
  • Fun glow in the dark and thermal sets
Price: $17.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Perfect summer polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Bright and fun colors
  • Range of finishes
  • Ships quickly
Price: $16.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Ibd just gel polish bottles Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Lasts two weeks
  • Bottles match color of polish
  • More subtle color choices
Price: $10.93 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Box sets of Clavuz polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Great color-changing options
  • Lasts nearly two weeks
  • Glitter and magnetic colors
Price: $9.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Beetles nail polish set Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Many sets available
  • Affordable
  • Set includes glossy and matte top coat
Price: $25.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Gelish Soak-Off Gel Polish

    Pros:
    • Lasts three weeks before chipping
    • Lots of colors including a few glitters
    • Highly pigmented polishes
    • Works well with other brands
    • Used by professionals
    Cons:
    • Longer removal process
    • May need multiple coats
    • Cap design can be hard to open

    Gelish was one of the first on the scene when gel polish became popular. With 151 colors, Gelish has a wide range to choose from including the cremes and and glitters. I’m highlighting the lovely turquoise Ruffle Those Feathers.

    When applied correctly, Gelish polish will last you three weeks before chipping. A Gelish manicure will have that higher profile, thick finish that you expect from gel and a glossy high shine.

    The polish colors are highly pigmented and you’ll rarely have to apply more than one coat of your color of choice. I like that Gelish polishes come in standard bottles and mini bottles so you can try out colors without having to purchase the full size.

    Gelish plays well with other gels so if you have a top coat you love, you don’t have to swap it out like you do with CND Shellac. Gelish also offers several mini starter kits that hook you up with colors, top, and base coats all at once which is perfect if you’re just starting out with gel.

    As far as removal, it’s about for gel. You have to soak for at least 10 minutes in acetone, but it could take more like 20 minutes depending on the application. I’ve featured the Gelish 18G Professional Nail Lamp in my Best UV and LED Nail Lamps article.

    VideoVideo related to gelish soak-off gel polish2018-10-24T14:03:20-04:00

  2. 2. LeChat Perfect Match Gel Polish

    Pros:
    • Lasts at least two weeks
    • Includes matching non-gel nail polish
    • Wide range of colors including color changing polish and holographics
    • Easy to see the color on the bottle
    Cons:
    • Formula can be a little thick
    • You may not want extra polish
    • May chip if you don't use thin layers

    The cool thing about buying gel polish from Lechat, you generally also get a second bottle of the same color in a non-gel, traditional nail polish base.

    This is perfect for touching up your nails if you have just that one little chip and you don’t have the time to redo your nails that day. It also works to have matching manicures and pedicures if you don’t want to use a gel on your toes. Or you can just wear the color as normal polish. (It’s always nice to have options.)

    As far as color choices, Lechat has a good variety of neutrals, bold colors, color-changing shades, and intense holographics like this one.

    The Lechat formula is thicker than some of the others on here so you want to make sure you’re putting on thin layers so it will cure properly. This polish will likely pass the 14-day mark and keep going.

    I’ve seen a lot of great nail art using LeChat but if you’re looking to go over the top, you’ll need a nail art printer.

  3. 3. Gellen Soak Off UV Gel Nail Polish (18-Piece Sets)

    Pros:
    • Lasts around two weeks
    • 300 colors
    • Colors choices are either very traditional or really whacky
    • Brand has great top coats
    • Nice large kits with top and base coat included
    Cons:
    • Not a professional brand
    • Colors take several layers to build opacity
    • Won't last as long as others

    Gellen is another brand popular with home nail folks. They can be bought individually but I’m really like their 16-color sets that come with a wide range of colors in mini bottles as well as full-size top and base coat. 

    These 18-piece sets come a nice range of themes including the pictured Nude Grays as well as a brighter Summer Rainbow Set and springy Fresh Colors Collection.

    This one has 300 colors to choose from and also includes color-changing, magnetic, glitter, and holographic. Their standard colors tend toward neutral options with lots of taupes as well as many gradients of red.

    As a thinner polish, you’re looking at two to three coats of color with this brand so just be aware of that. It has decent lasting power and will get you past the 14-day mark, but after that depends on how much you baby your hands.

    It’s fine to use with other brands, but I did feature their glossy and matte top coat bundle in my best no wipe gel top coat guide.

  4. 4. Aimeili Soak Off Gel Nail Polish (4-Piece Set)

    Pros:
    • Lasts two weeks easy
    • Bold, vibrant colors
    • Holds up to rough wear
    • Offers trendy color-changing, glitter, and glow in the dark shades
    Cons:
    • Fewer colors to choose from
    • Needs multiple coats
    • Not for those looking for neutrals

    Aimeili has over 50 gel polish colors and many of them are color changing by either temperature or light. They also have several money-save sets like this one.

    They even have some that glow in the dark. So this is another fun, affordable brand that has the bold colors you’re looking for. One of their ranges is called the Candy Range, and it’s the perfect word because their densely pigmented colors remind me of a candy shop.

    Of the lower-priced gels, Aimeili is one of the most durable, easily hitting the 14-day mark before chipping. It can take a beating which is something you want in a gel. It’s a little thin so you may need two to three coats depending on the color.

    If you’re looking for neutral or soft colors, this isn’t for you. Even their more subtle looking shades end up being a bit more vibrant in person, which is great if that’s what you’re looking for.

    VideoVideo related to aimeili soak off gel nail polish (4-piece set)2018-10-24T14:11:37-04:00

  5. 5. Modelones Polish (6-Piece Set)

    Pros:
    • Two weeks of wear
    • Wide range of finishes from nudes to glitter to magnetic
    • Many different sets to choose from
    • Easy to apply
    • Fast curing times
    • Easy to tell what color the bottle is
    Cons:
    • Generally see them in sets
    • Not as long-lasting as others
    • Viewing window makes polish vulnerable to thickening

    I’m a fan of Modelone’s top and base coat set and they know how to pull off nice polish sets as well. The brand has a wide range of colors including neutrals, magnetic cat eye, holographic, temperature changing, and glitter. 

    I love that these themed sets have bottles that are the color of the polish inside. The background color on the illustration on the bottles in the Secret Garden set pictured above represent the actual polish color. Modelones has a range of sets with these neat illustrated bottles that look amazing on your manicure table including their metallic Art Deco set and neutral Retro Lady set.

    When applied according to their instructions, you can get an easy two weeks out of this polish and probably longer. It doesn’t tolerate user-error as much as some other brands so it might not be ideal for first-timers.  

    The brushes are small and compact to avoid applying too much product. It’s a nice consistency and easy to apply as well as curing in decent times so you don’t have to sit there and wait forever.

    I got a media sample of this line from Modelones and I’m surprised by how much polish you actually get from these bottles. 

  6. 6. FairyGlo Gel Nail Polish

    Pros:
    • Lasts around two weeks
    • Bright glitters to neutrals
    • Very durable
    • Formula is dreamy to apply
    Cons:
    • Some polishes need several coats
    • Difficult to remove
    • Not as long-lasting as others

    A newer brand on the market, FairyGlo is starting to gain a little ground. These gels are thick, but not so much that they’re unwieldy, but just thick enough that many solid colors are opaque in one coat.

    For jelly colors and glitters, you’ll need several coats to get you there.

    For a cheaper gel polish, they’ll last you a full two weeks before chipping. FairyGlo has a wide range of colors, though not as many as others, from neutral pastels to glitters and color changing polishes.

    It does seem to be a little tenacious though and involves a long soaking time (around 15 minutes) when you want to remove it. It’s on there good, just be patient and gentle when you don’t want it on there anymore.

  7. 7. Makartt Gel Polish

    Pros:
    • Affordable
    • Very pigmented so you need fewer coats
    • Sets often include top and base coat
    • Trendy colors and finishes
    • Bottles show the color on the outside
    Cons:
    • Not a high end brand
    • Collections include mini bottles
    • Harder to buy in single bottles

    If you’re looking for affordable trendy colors, Makartt gel might be a good fit for you. Their polish is generally sold in sets of colors like this Paradise Lost Collection featured above that includes 22 dark pastel colors as well as a base and top coat. 

    For the price, it’s a very good deal for that many colors even if they’re mini bottles of polish. These polishes are very densely pigmented and with some colors you could probably get away with only one coat of polish for full opacity, though the color will be truer with two coats. 

    They do have slightly longer curing times than some brands but if you’re looking to bulk up your color selection at a bargain, a few extra seconds under the lamp may be worth it for you.

    Makartt offers several different collections including a five-piece multi-chrome magnetic polish set that comes with a double-ended magnet. 

  8. 8. Elite99 Nail Gel Polish

    Pros:
    • Lasts around two weeks
    • Immense variety of colors
    • Popular polishes like unicorn shimmers, magnetic, and color changing
    • Affordable
    Cons:
    • Not a professional brand
    • Not as durable
    • Longer curing times

    If you’re on a budget and want a huge variety of color choices, you need to check out Elite99.

    They have 337 colors out right now and the range is staggering. Elite99 has all the standard colors you expect, but they also have loads of deeply pigmented cremes, glitter polishes, magnetic polishes, color-changing polishes that shift with the temperature, and iridescent shimmer polishes.

    Elite99 isn’t a professional product like the Gelish or CND and you’re less likely to find it in a salon, but it’s still a great brand that’s very popular with home gel folks because you can get all the funky colors on trend with nail polish right now for cheap.

    The formula is fairly thin and easy to work with. Elite99 plays well with other base and top coats so if it’s just that one color you really want, you can integrate it with your other gel collection. The curing times are slightly longer than some others, but not drastically.

    Staying power is surprisingly good for the price and heavily depends on proper application. It likely won’t last you much past two weeks, but with all these color choices, by then I’d be itching to put on a new color.

  9. 9. Laguna Moon 6-Polish Sets

    Pros:
    • Good brand for beginners
    • Easy to apply
    • Comes in six-polish sets
    • Wide range of finishes including glitters, magnetic cat eye, and temperature changing
    Cons:
    • Sometimes not easy to tell which bottle is which color
    • Too thick for some
    • Small bottles

    Laguna Moon, besides being really fun to say out loud, is a great brand for beginners because it’s so easy to work with and doesn’t require a lot of coats to become opaque. Fewer coats mean fewer steps and faster manicures.

    I like that it’s a slightly thicker consistency as you don’t have to worry as much about it pooling into your cuticles. Gel can be tricky to work with if you’re used to regular polish and Lagunamoon is a nice transition brand that behaves like a thick polish. 

    It has average curing times, not too fast and not too slow. The lifespan of the manicure is also average at about two weeks or longer depending on how you’ve applied it so it’s good for mastering your technique. 

    The brand comes in sets so you save money by getting a group of smaller polishes to play with. There are many fun sets to choose from. 

  10. 10. Beetles Color Gel (23-Piece Set)

    Pros:
    • Range of finishes like creme, glitter, and duo-chrome
    • Nine free
    • Great for getting a lot of one color, like a range of pink tones
    • Thick and won't run on you
    Cons:
    • Longer cure times
    • Too thick for some
    • Not a ton of variety within sets

    I like that this Beetles Gel Set includes 20 shades of polish as well as a base coat, glossy top coat, and matte top coat. With the two different top coats, you can get 40 different looks from this one set.

    The formula is pretty easy to work with though it can be a little too thick for some. Beetles even recommends placing the closed bottle of polish in hot water for a couple of minutes to loosen up the polish and make it a little less thick. 

  11. 11. Saviland Gel Polish

    Pros:
    • Long-lasting
    • Affordable
    • Wide range of finishes including thermal and glow in the dark
    • Colors are displayed on the bottles
    Cons:
    • Sets don't tend to include top and base coat
    • Mini bottles
    • Hard to find individual bottles
    • Sheer

    Saviland gel is a good choice for people looking to expand their color options without spending a ton of money. They’re affordable, have good staying power for the price, and have sets from delicate nudes to wild neons.

    The gel will last you a good two weeks or more and has fast curing times. It is a little sheer, depending on the color, so you might be looking at three coats for full opacity. 

    The set above comes with nine thermal polishes that change color depending on the temperature and includes both creams and glitter finishes. Just keep in mind it doesn’t come with top or base coat. 

    Salviland has some wild finishes including this six-color glow in the dark set and eye-blinding six-color bright neon set, but they also an eight-color nude set that includes a matte top coat and is perfect for the office.

    Each set comes in its own storage box and the bottles have colored stickers on them so it’s easy to find the shade you’re looking for.

  12. 12. Perfect Summer 6-Polish Sets

    Pros:
    • Super pigmented
    • Many finishes like glitter, jelly, and neon
    • Fast shipping
    • Fun color sets
    Cons:
    • Small bottles
    • A little sheer and thin
    • Slightly harder to get off

    If your main desire is nailing that perfect, intensely-pigmented color of your dreams, check out Perfect Summer. This brand sells in sets so you get six different polishes all within a color theme.

    They have a wide range of colors and each one is vibrant and rich.

    The polish tends to be a little thin and sheer, so it might take three coats to get that perfect color, but once you get there, that intensity is so worth it. Plus, being slightly more liquidy means that it’s easier to apply those layers nice and thin so the completed look is still professional. The bottles are a little smaller than average so don’t be surprised by the size. 

    They have interesting and fun sets including the pictured Starter Series, as well as Neutral Pastel Series, and Glitter Set.

  13. 13. IBD Just Gel Nail Polish

    Pros:
    • Two weeks of wear
    • Polish color is easily visible
    • Nice range neutral colors
    • Used by some professionals
    Cons:
    • Needs several coats to be opaque
    • Formula can be streaky if you press too hard
    • Mostly neutrals

    IBD Just Gel is a lesser-known brand that can compete with some bigger names in polish. The gel has two-week staying power a wide range of colors.

    The formula is thin but easy to control, though you will likely need two or more coats for the colors to really pop. I also like that the bottles are the color of the polish inside so you don’t have to be checking the bottom of your bottles to find the color you want.

    They don’t really mess around with the fancy color changing, magnetic shades, so if you’re looking for show-stopping holographics, this isn’t for you. IBD Just Gel does have a few glittery polishes in there to jazz things up a bit like Anything Glows above, but for solid, creme colors with lots of choices for neutrals, this is a great brand to look at. 

  14. 14. Clavuz Gel Nail Polish (6-Piece Set)

    Pros:
    • Lasts around two weeks depending on application
    • Dramatic colors
    • Works well with other brands
    Cons:
    • Requires several coats
    • Not a professional brand
    • Don’t use their lamp

    Clavuz offers a lot of fun, trendy colors like color changing polish, glitters, and magnetics.

    Clavuz gels are about on par with other non-professional polishes, just make sure you’re using a quality lamp to cure them. While the brand’s polishes are good, skip their lamp and invest in a strong, quality light that will last you.

  15. 15. Beetles Gel Polish (20-Piece Set)

    Pros:
    • Many sets to choose from
    • Affordable
    • Nine-free
    • Comes with base and top coats
    • This set includes a glossy and matte top coat
    • Creme and holographic glitter formulas
    Cons:
    • Bottles are not full-size
    • Not as high quality as others
    • Harder to find individual colors

    For those looking for an affordable way to greatly expand your choice of colors, checkout Beetles Gel Polish. 

    Beetles has a wide range of sets including large bundles like this 20-piece one and smaller, more-specialized sets like their six-piece Halloween Pumpkin Set.

    Their sets tend to have a nice range of colors and finishes within their theme and this featured bundle includes a base coat, glossy top coat, and matte top coat which essentially doubles the number of colors you have to work with.

How does gel polish work?

Normal nail polish works just like standard paint does: pigments are dissolved in a solvent and when the solvent is exposed to air, it evaporates leaving behind the hardened lacquer.

But gel nail polish will never evaporate and will only completely dry through a chemical chain reaction that is triggered by UV light. Gel nail polish is packaged in opaque bottles so that light hitting it won't cause the lacquer to harden in the bottle instead of on your nails. If you ever see a polish advertised as gel but it has a transparent bottle, it's not a true gel.

This chemical reaction begins when UV light hits photoinitiators in the liquid polish which begin a chain reaction converting the liquid into a polymer. Polymers are tough materials and examples include things like silicone, PVC, amber, and the cellulose in wood.

This chemical conversion is called curing. For gel nails to have their desired longevity, the polish has to be cured under special nail lamps designed to emit the appropriate UV light. 

Looking for tips for first-time gel users, or for trying dip nails? Check out my guide to the best nail dipping powder.

Salon only or can I do gel nails at home?

You can absolutely do your own gel manicure at home. All you'll need is gel nail polish (top and base coat please) and a UV or LED nail lamp. Lots of people are doing their own gel nails these days and it can save you a boatload of money compared to going to the salon every two to three weeks.

That said, the gel you get at the salon will likely last you longer than the one you do at home unless you're a professional yourself. Still though, even if you can only get your at home gel manicures to last you two weeks, it's still a huge improvement over traditional polish.

Which lamp should I get?

There are lots of quality nail lamp options available in a huge range of prices, some as cheap as the price of a single salon manicure. See the link just above to read my guide to UV and LED nail lamps.

Will it wreck my natural nails?

Gel nail polish is harder on nails than standard polish but not as harsh as having acrylics. Unless you're using CND Shellac, you need to lightly buff the surface of the nail so the polish has a rougher surface to stick to, so right off the bat, that sort of thing will thin your nails.

Removing gel nail polish is where it can get tricky. If you're unsure about this, please go to a nail salon where a professional can properly remove your gels with as little effect on your nails as possible.

Removing gel polish.

See my article on the best Gel Polish Remover for more details but the basics of the process are that gel nails will need to soak in pure acetone or gel polish remover for up to 20 minutes to loosen their bond on the nail. Filing the surface of the gel polish first can help to speed up the process.

Once the acetone has weakened the gel, you should be able to push it off with a cuticle pusher tool. Never pry or pick your gel lacquer off with a sharp tool. It will take the top layers of your nails with it and weaken your nails.

If you take the right steps and are patient,  there's no reason gel should do serious damage to your nails.

Chipping? Always remove your gels as soon as they start chipping or lifting. Water, from washing your hands for example, can get trapped under your nail and become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. That's a major yuck so don't let your peeling gel nails sit.

Also, always follow up the removal process with cuticle oil to pamper your fingers, especially if they've just sat in acetone for 10 minutes. If you can, use cuticle oil daily to keep your nails hydrated and healthy. 

What's the best gel nail brand for beginners?

For those looking to try doing their own gel nails for the first time, I'd say pick up a bottle of CND Shellac. You don't have to rough up the surface of your nails for Shellac so if you decide you don't love the process, you haven't had to buff your nails which unavoidably does weaken them a small amount. 

Gel polish vs. Nail dipping powder

If you're not deep in the nail world, these two can seem almost interchangeable other than the way you apply them, but they're actually very different. 

Gel nail polish is polish that is hardened by a chemical reaction triggered by UV light, which we've discussed. 

Acrylic nails use acrylic powder that is mixed with a thick monomer to create a malleable paste and then sculpted into nails. They're tough to get off and last around a month.

Nail dipping powder is acrylic nail powder, usually tinted, that skips the monomer and is instead activated with a clear liquid that is painted on like nail polish. It's basically a way to apply acrylic to nails without sculpting. 

Both gel nail polish and dipping take less practice to apply but dipping powder tends to last longer than gel nails and is much harder to remove since it's still acrylic.

See Also:

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