The best gel nail polish for long-lasting manicures at home
The best gel nail polish brands for those with and without a UV lamp.
If you're looking for a beauty pick-me-up, then a cheap and simple option is to sort your nails out and give yourself a fresh manicure with one of the best nail polish brands.
Yes, at a nail salon you can pampered and let an expert sort out your cuticles. But if you're trying to save money or don't have the time to book an appointment, then consider doing your nails yourself at home instead.
Polish formulations have improved over the years and you can now get a beautiful, long-lasting and professional looking mani at home, especially if you find the best gel nail polish.
There are different types of gel nail polish. Officially, gel nail polish needs to be cured under a UV lamp for it to work properly. You can get this done at a salon, but there are plenty of at-home options now too.
You might find that some brands also have gel nail polishes that don't need to be cured under a UV lamp. What this tends to mean is they're thicker nail polishes that are gel-like, but aren't as long-lasting because they don't require the same curing process as proper gel.
We've included a mixture of options for those with and without their own UV lamp in our best gel nail polish guide below – no guarantees you’re not going to smudge them, though...
- Does the rest of your make up bag need a makeover? Check out our pick of the best mascaras and best eyeshadow palettes.
The best gel nail polish around
1. OPI Gel PolishView now at Amazon
OPI is one of the best known gel nail polish brands on the planet – 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.
The OPI Infinite Shine range doesn't need a UV lamp to get working, but does work better with all 3 steps of its process, look out for the numbers on the side of the bottles.
2. Sally Hansen Miracle Top CoatView now at Amazon
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.
3. Chanel Le Gel CoatView now at John Lewis
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.
4. CND Shellac Power PolishView now at Amazon
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.
5. Nails Inc Gel Effect nail varnishView now at Amazon
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.
6. Le Mini Macaron Gel PolishView now at Amazon
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. Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab ProView now at Amazon
There's a lot to love about the Deborah Lippmann nail polish range, there are loads of colours to choose from (as well as fun glitter options), the quality is fantastic and the snub bottles are cute. But the polish itself is also cruelty-free. Brilliant.
The Gel Lab Pro polishes are another example of gel-like polish rather than the kind you need a UV lamp to cure. Although this brand is known for its wide range of colours, we like this pearl nude for everyday wear.
8. Essie Gel Couture Gel PolishView now at Amazon
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. OPI Strengthening PrimerView now at Nail Polish Direct
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.
10. Rimmel London Super GelView now at Amazon
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.