The best gel nail polish (2021): long-lasting and won't ruin nails
Updated: the best gel nail polish brands revealed.
If you’re looking for a little beauty pick-me-up, you can’t get much better than buying the best nail polish and sorting out your nails.
And whether you go for a full manicure in a salon or prefer to do your own nails at home, you’ve never had more choice when it comes to products.
Though the cream of the nail industry crop used to be exclusive to salons themselves, times have changed. You can now get a beautiful, long-lasting and professional looking mani at home – and for a fraction of the price.
Here’s our pick of the best – no guarantees you’re not going to smudge them, though...
Upvote your favourite. And add your own suggestions at the bottom.
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The best gel nail polish around
1. OPI Gel Polish
OPI is probably the best known gel nail polish brand – and for good reason. A favourite of salons the world over, OPI’s high quality formula and huge range of colours has made it one of the beauty industry’s top brands.
There are truly hundreds of shades to choose from – so whether you like a bold red, a dramatic burgundy, a pastel pink or an audacious orange, you’re sorted.
2. Nails Inc Gel Effect nail varnish
This isn’t technically a gel varnish – simply a gel-look varnish. But it’s worth including because it looks so darn good.
This super shiny varnish comes in a number of colours – though we particularly love this pretty pastel pink. It has an extra wide brush intended to reduce streaks or drags – and also means you won’t have to spend ages going over the edges of your nails.
3. CND Shellac Power Polish
CND is a salon brand – meaning it gives a professional finish at home. Like other polishes, this lasts around two weeks.
The only downside is that you need a UV lamp kit to use the gel – so it may be better for seasoned pros rather than those of us who want to slick on a layer of varnish and go. And it works best if you use CND’s top coat, too – so it is a little bit of an investment.
4. OPI Strengthening Primer
Before you paint your nails, though, you’re going to need a primer to make sure they’re staying healthy, strong and shiny. This nail strengthening formula does all of that, ensuring that your nails aren’t going to break, completely ruining your manicure and your day.
OPI Strengthening PrimerBut that’s not all it does. It also acts as a base coat – just apply one layer to nails before you paint and finish with a glossy top coat.
5. Sally Hansen Miracle Top Coat
Sally Hansen is another well known brand – and again, it’s for good reason. Specialising in nail care, the brand offers a huge range of products, from polishes to top coats to primers to files and other accessories.
The company’s Miracle Top Coat is another brilliant addition to any nail-lovers roster of products. Completely chip resistant, Miracle Gel makes your mani last longer – and you don’t even need a UV lamp.
6. Le Mini Macaron Gel Polish
Does anyone do beauty better than the French? We think not. And the chic packaging and superior formula of this mini gel polish seems to agree.
Inspired by the macaron, the polish promises the benefits of a base and top coat and a varnish in one.
It’s another option that requires a UV lamp – but if you have one then this deep, shiny black is definitely worth checking out. And the packaging means it’ll look good on your dresser, too.
7. Chanel Le Gel Coat
When it comes to beauty brands, you’re not going to get much better than Chanel, are you? The heritage brand is notorious for a reason – it’s a byword for high quality luxury.
The company’s latest foray into beauty comes in the form of this gel topcoat. Designed to be worn over other Chanel nail varnishes, the brand promises that the gel is “supple and extra-flexible”, creating shiny, strong and beautiful nails.
8. Essie Gel Couture Gel Polish
Another option with nearly a hundred colour options, the Essie Gel Couture polish is a great choice – pick from more than sixty sheers, nudes, pinks, reds, purples, blues, greens, metallics and more.
It’s long-lasting, too – Essie promises up to 12 days of wear, even when you’re out and about and likely to chip your polish. Just two coats and you’re done.
It’s also a pretty cheap option – so you can afford to mix and match.
9. Rimmel London Super Gel
With 26 colour options to choose from, Rimmel London’s Super Gel is a great choice - made even greater by the price. There are pinks, blues, reds and purples. The grape sorbet shade is a particularly beautiful pink gloss.
Rimmel also describes it as “chip resistant” so hopefully you can keep your colour chip-free for longer, but if not, the range also has a top coat so you have that added protection.