Tips and Tricks on How to Make Gel Nail Polish Last Longer


Splurged on a gel nail polish manicure at the salon? Got a chic gel nail art design that you’d like to keep looking fresh? Well, ladies do we have some nail tips for you: keeping your gel nail polish in top condition isn’t rocket science (even if the science behind gel nails is pretty awesome!). In fact, it’s a piece of cake, because essie•gel nail polishes are formulated to last up to 14 days. Here are a few tricks of the trade we’ve picked up along the way, so read on if you’d like to try and extend the life of your gel manicure even longer.

Start with a great foundation
We’ve done a ton of research with all kinds of nail polishes and techniques. In our experience, the best way to extend your manicure and pedicure (regardless of what type of gel polish you’re wearing) is by beginning with a perfect foundation. What’s that? Here we break it down for you:

• Unlike a traditional manicure, nails should not be soaked in water before applying gel polish. Soaking your nails in water or a water-based manicure bath causes your nail plates to expand and become waterlogged, and your gel polish will not adhere properly. Not to worry—soaking is not necessary to care for cuticles—your essie manicurist will perform a flawless “waterless” manicure before applying essie•gel.

• Make sure nails are squeaky clean. No matter what kind of gel nail polish you pick, your nail bed should be thoroughly cleansed before applying any nail product to remove dirt and oils. If you’re having essie•gel applied at a salon, your manicurist will cleanse with essie•gel prep + finish cleanser. If you’re at home preparing to apply a gel-like nail polish, just scrub your nails with acetone-based nail polish remover. After cleansing, be careful not to touch your nails—oils from your fingers will transfer to your nails and you’ll have to start again!

Next what type of gel nail polish are you wearing?
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, you’ll need to know the type of gel nail polish you’re using. There are two basic types of gel nail polish: LED and UV gels (cured under a lamp) and new gel-like polishes, sometimes called long-wear enamels, that air-dry without a lamp. They’re formulated differently, so find your type of nail polish below and brush up on your essie expertise!


Base Coat
Make sure that you’ve got a rock-solid base coat on which to build your gel nail polish fantasies. Like every layer, the base coat should go on thin and even and then cure completely. essie•gel base coat is cured under our LED lamp for 30 seconds.

The Nail Tip
Be sure to wrap the free edge or nail tip with polish on every layer. It’s just a matter of letting your brush bend around the nail edge. Watch as your manicurist “caps the tip” after each coat of gel.

Cure Completely
With traditional nail enamel, one can layer up before the previous coat is dry. Not so with gel nail color. Each coat should be cured completely before moving onto the next. Fortunately, essie•gel color cures for 30 seconds per coat, and the top coat is cured in 1 minute, so your wait time is practically nothing.

Touch Up
If you want to give your gel manicure a boost, try adding a traditional enamel embellishment or design on top. This is also a great way to use essie luxe effects or experiment with a little D.I.Y. nail art. If you don’t love it, you can just use a little acetone-free nail polish remover to erase it without compromising your gel polish. If your manicure starts growing out, then perhaps it’s time for a fresh start.

Moisturize Nails
When you’re wearing a gel manicure for weeks, you may forget to take care of your nails. Apply essie apricot cuticle oil morning and night and rub into the cuticles and skin around the nails—and don’t ignore the skin under the free edge (or tip) of the nail. Keeping nails hydrated will help keep your gel nails looking beautiful.


There are so some exciting new gel-like formulas out there. On the one hand, it’s super fun because when it comes to gel nail polish, who doesn’t love being spoiled for choice? But all the options can be a bit overwhelming – so here’s the 411 on the products we know best: essie gel•setter™ and essie gel couture.

When you want to get the most life out of your manicure or pedicure, follow these easy nail tips for a gorgeous, long-wearing result for reflective, chip-proof shine.

Base Coat
Who knew? When you wear essie gel couture, there’s no base coat needed. This luxurious gel nail color formula is designed for application directly to the natural nail and it adheres like a champ! With a flawless, air-dried finish it speeds the mani/pedi process and delivers smooth coverage. Amaze.

When using essie gel•setter as your gel-like top coat, you can start with any essie base coat you like. Got ridges? Try smoothing them out with essie ridge filling primer. Want to fortify and strengthen nails? Go for essie grow stronger base coat.

The Nail Tip
Be sure to wrap the free edge or nail tip with polish on every coat. It’s just a matter of letting the brush bend around the nail edge. If you’re doing your own gel nails at home, practice this skill with a dark-colored traditional nail enamel – that way you can easily see what you’re doing and the nail polish cleans up easily with a swipe of remover.

Dry Completely
With traditional nail enamel, one can layer up before the previous coat is dry. With essie gel couture’s gel-like formula, it’s best to wait for 60 seconds between coats to allow each layer to dry. Fortunately, with essie gel couture you only apply 3 coats instead of 4, so you don’t have to wait very long.

Touch Up
If your topcoat takes on a lackluster appearance, simply touch it up with a fresh coat. When applying, it’s best to do it in light, smooth strokes. All essie brushes are designed to make application super-easy, so it’s a snap to touch up your topcoat and keep your manicure looking freshly-painted.

Post-manicure, keep cuticles smooth and hydrated with essie apricot cuticle oil. Use it whenever you feel you need a little extra moisture. It’ll keep the skin around your nails looking beautifully smooth and healthy.

Now you’ve got everything you need to get out there and keep nails in tip-top shape. Still have questions? Check out Gel Dos and Don’ts or Top 5 Facts About Gels and prove once again that you’re not just a pretty face.


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