Gel Nail Polish
Photo courtesy of @nailsinc

10 Best Gel Nail Polishes For An Easy At-Home Mani

You’ll look like you just left the salon.

There’s nothing more relaxing than a trip to the nail salon. An hour spent getting your nails trimmed, buffed, and shellacked is a self-care ritual that many of us look forward to. But since going to the salon isn’t always in the cards, it’s important to know how to take that ritual into your own hands. Of course, you probably already know how to file and paint your nails. But a great at-home manicure comes down to which polish you use. We recommend setting your typical lacquers aside and opting for a gel nail polish formula. You’ll find it’s the key to a long-lasting, chip-free manicure.

What is a Gel Manicure?

Gel manicures are typically done in nail salons using a gel-based nail polish and a UV or LED light that seals the polish to your nails. Most gel manicures last from two to four weeks, making them useful for vacations, weddings, and other multi-day occasions.

However, while traditional gel manicures are long-lasting and give you a gorgeous shine, the removal process can often damage your nails. That’s why many nail polish brands offer gel-like formulas that you can apply at home to get that same chip-proof, lacquered look without the damage. Ahead, find our editor-approved gel nail polish picks (plus a standout kit) to give you a salon-worthy manicure at home.

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Sally Hansen
Miracle Gel
$10.00 BUY NOW
1 /10
Best Overall: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

From the kaleidoscope color range to the wallet-friendly price, you can’t go wrong with this award-winning gel nail polish. The formula veers slightly thick which makes applying it from the wide bristle brush fuss-free. Plus, unlike salon gels, this polish wipes off clean with polish remover. If you want to make your mani last even longer, slick on the corresponding top coat for up to two weeks of chip-free wear.

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel available at Ulta for $10.00 BUY NOW
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Le Gel Coat Longwear Top Coat
$28.00 BUY NOW
2 /10
Best Gel Top Coat: Chanel Le Gel Coat

Lock in your favorite lacquer with this luxe gel top coat from Chanel. Beyond its wear-extending capabilities, it offers a gorgeous glossy finish that rivals that of a salon mani. After you’ve applied your polish, wait a few minutes and top it off with this. The best part? There's no UV lamp required. Just let your nails hang out to dry under natural light and you’ll be ready to go in under 10 minutes.

Chanel Le Gel Coat Longwear Top Coat available at Nordstrom for $28.00 BUY NOW
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Couture Color, Gel Shine, Long Wear Nail Lacquer
$28.00 BUY NOW
3 /10
Best Luxury: Dior Vernis

No one does it like Dior. The vibrant, super-shiny finish of this formula looks salon-worthy with just one coat. You can thank Dior’s top-tier patented Techno-Polymer that creates a seamless bond between the nail and the enamel for long-lasting staying power. The application brush also features a long, rounded tip which allows for a seamless application regardless of your nail shape.

Dior Couture Color, Gel Shine, Long Wear Nail Lacquer available at Dior for $28.00 BUY NOW
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Olive & June
$8.00 BUY NOW
4 /10
Best Gel-Like Polish: Olive & June

This may not be a gel polish per se, but the final effect is pretty close. Founded by Sarah Gibson Tuttle, the owner of celebrity-favorite salon Olive & June in Beverly Hills, this brand aims to bring quality manis to the masses. The vegan, cruelty-free polish boasts a silky smooth texture that doesn’t chip or flake until you’re ready to take it off. With a variety of glittery metallics, neutrals, and sophisticated jewel tones, there’s a color to match every mood and style.

Olive & June Obsessed available at Olive & June for $8.00 BUY NOW
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CND Shellac
$15.00 BUY NOW
5 /10
Best Professional Gel Polish: CND Shellac

A gel favorite among beauty editors and professional manicurists, CND’s pro-level gel nail polishes are a classic. The lamp-cured polish has literally zero dry time, lasts up to two weeks, and delivers ultra-shiny, streak-free color. And unlike other in-salon polishes, this one is easy to remove and doesn’t damage your nail beds. With a variety of shades available, you’re sure to find a hue or two you love.

CND Shellac Charm available at Beyond Polish for $15.00 BUY NOW
Gel Nail Polish - Essie  - Gel Couture
Gel Couture
$11.50 BUY NOW
6 /10
Best Quick Dry Gel: Essie Gel Couture

Ask anyone their favorite nail polish brand and there’s a high chance they’ll say Essie—and with good reason. The 35-year-old brand has more than 900 shades in its repertoire, including limited edition and seasonal hues. Thankfully, they took their cult-loved polish and reimagined it in gel for those who want their manicure to last longer than a week. Just apply two coats of your color of choice and top them off with the gel top coat for flawless, chip-resistant wear. 

Essie Gel Couture available at Ulta for $11.50 BUY NOW
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Red Carpet Manicure
Gel Polish Pro Kit
$80.00 BUY NOW
7 /10
Best Gel Manicure Kit: Red Carpet Manicure

If you want to do a full gel manicure at home, reach for this kit. The complete system includes a pre- and post-application nail cleanser, a residue-removing nail prep, a base coat, top coat, gel polish color, cuticle oil, and, of course, an LED lamp to harden the polish onto your nails. Basically, all the mani essentials that are required to safely apply and remove the polish. All you have to do is follow the step-by-step instructions, and in less than an hour, you’ll be left with super-shiny nails that will stay in pristine condition for weeks.

Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit available at Ulta for $80.00 BUY NOW
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Deborah Lippmann
Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish
$20.00 BUY NOW
8 /10
Best Non-Toxic 7-Free: Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish

Looking for a better-for-you gel polish? This one from celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann is it. Infused with ingredients like green tea extract, biotin, and omega-6 fatty acids, this gel polish looks good and feels good. While the nourishing ingredients are a bonus, it’s what’s left out that’s impressive. The dual-patented formula doesn’t include any harsh ingredients like toluene, formaldehyde, resin camphor, or parabens. Fun fact: Each bottle features a brush with 320 bristles for the perfect glide. We’re big fans of the color range, too. From opaque pastels and rainbow glitters to classic reds, there’s truly a shade for everyone.

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish available at Sephora for $20.00 BUY NOW
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Butter London
Smashing! Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer
$18.00 BUY NOW
9 /10
Best Shiny Gel Polish: Butter London Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer

The name says it all. Achieve the glossy manicure of your dreams in minutes with this ultra-shiny polish. Featuring a glass-like finish and a thick, cushiony texture, you’re going to be impressed by this at-home formula. Created to promote damage-free nails, the formula is spiked with bamboo extract for healthier tips. And let’s not forget its Shock Resistant Polymer Technology and diamond powder that allows 10-day chip-resistant wear. Since no base or top coat is required, you can swipe, wait five minutes, and go. 

Butter London Smashing! Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer available at Butter London for $18.00 BUY NOW
Gel Nail Polish - Nails Inc. - Gel Nail Polish
Nails INC.
Gel Nail Polish
$15.00 BUY NOW
10 /10
Best Strengthening: NAILS INC. Gel Nail Polish

Give your nails some extra TLC with this strengthening gel polish. Made to mimic the effects of a salon gel manicure, it’s no wonder the NAILS INC lacquer has a cult following. It’s infused with a nourishing blend of flower extracts that work together to make your nails sturdier over time. Just apply your favorite base coat, sweep on two layers of your color of choice, top it off with your go-to top coat, and you’re all set. We recommended trying one of the chic grays in the collection.

Nails INC. Gel Nail Polish available at Sephora for $15.00 BUY NOW
About the Author
Amanda Etkind is a passionate beauty, health, and fashion writer and copywriter based in New York City. Her work has appeared on InStyle, Allure, Reader’s Digest, Byrdie Beauty, Health, and more.
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