When it comes to painting your own nails there are people who like it and those who will do anything in their power to avoid it. I’m on the side of truly enjoying painting my own nails. Nail polish was the first beauty product that I discovered and used regularly. In middle school I went through a phase where I matched my nail polish with the color of my shirt, let’s just say my nails suffered a bit, however with all that practice I got really good at painting my own nails. Since then I’ve constantly searched for formulas that not only looked great but also lasted more than a couple days.
For me the perfect formula is opaque, long-lasting, and very shiny – all which describe gel nail polish. And while I’m not a fan of getting manicures or actual gel formulas (refer to my obsession with painting my own nails), I do prefer a gel like finish. Unlike real gel formulas, these gel like finishes are cured/sealed with regular light and can be removed with nail polish remover. I’ve tried quite a few of these formulas and thought I would share my top picks:
The Sally Hansen Miracle Gel was the first at-home gel like formula that I ever tried. The idea of a regular polish that had look and feel of gel polish, but did not require a UV light was amazing. To start off the color range is massive, there’s every color you will ever need. The formula is thicker than the others I’ve listed, it does take longer to dry, but if you’re in a rush and only have time to do one coat you you can count on still having an opaque finish. I will say this polish can last up to seven days without chipping, but around day four/five a slight cracking effect starts happening, it’s mainly noticeable in the lighter colors, however aside from that it’s a great formula and out of the ones listed most resembles actual gel polish.
I definitely purchased the VINYLUX Weekly Polish based of the multiple advertisements claiming ‘seven days of no-chips’. For a while they were hard to track down, however they are now easily accessible in drugstores. Out of all the gel like formulas I’ve tried this is by far has the thinnest consistency, which is great for cutting down on drying time but adds to the number of coats needed (I do three coats instead of two). When applied without a base coat, this formula outlasted the others by a couple of days of no chipping. I won’t say it lasted the full seven days, more like five days of no shipping and the additional days were very small chips towards the corner of your nails – nothing major. This range used to have a smaller color selection than the others, however they have added shades and now have over 100 shades (and if you’re into Shellac, they have a matching Shellac shades).
The OPI Infinite Shine range is by far my favorite out of the ones I’ve listed. Like the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel, there’s a wide selection of colors perfect for any occasion. What I like the most about this range is the thin yet opaque formula. This range is also carried by many nail salons, so if you’re in the group that would rather get a manicure be sure to try this formula; it’s usually a couple of dollars extra but beyond worth it! The topcoat for this line is so good that I also use it when painting my nails with regular nail polish, it’s shiny and the perfect consistency to lock-in your polish.
Essie Gel Couture – Being a cult-fave brand I very much anticipated this release. The color range is great and has a long-lasting formula (about five days without chipping), however it does take awhile to dry. I own a few of the colors but rarely reach for them which is why I did not include it in my picks. However, I highly recommend checking it out – just make sure to carve out extra drying time.
Sinful Shine 2-Step Gel Manicure – This is a great option if you’re looking for budget friendly range, they have many colors to choose from including shimmery shades. The top coat has a shinier finish than the regular line and it lasts about three full days without chips (only minor chips in the following days).
I will note that with all of these I do use a base coat, even though it’s not required it does help with the longevity; I recommend the Orly Bonder Base Coat. Let me know in the comments below if you enjoy painting your own nails as much as I do and what your favorite nail polish formulas are!