I blame/thank the abundance of nail shops popping up offering gel nail polish and shellac for the flood of at home gel polishes hitting the market. From premium to pharmacy brands, it’s hard to pick up a polish that doesn’t promise miraculous wear time without chipping or peeling off. But which ones to go for? I’ve investigated…
As a chronic cleaner, dog-walker and general klutz, my nails endure a fair amount of trauma and manicures tend to last around a day before chipping. I’ve never made it to more than three or four before I insist on removing any remaining polish to start all over again.
I sound like the perfect candidate for gel nails, don’t I? They’d certainly make me look a degree neater and more, ahem, polished. Problem is, I can’t stand them. Things glued to me that can’t be removed should I choose to at the end of the day (eyelashes/nails/temporary tattooes) give me the heebie-jeebies and I end up trying to remove them anyway (this was an especially silly thing to do prior to my wedding – thank the cosmetic Gods for Rapidlash).
There we have it then: can’t stand anything too permanent, chip all normal polishes. The middle ground of long-wear polishes, however, seems to be a sweet spot. I’ve previously had a lot of success with L’Oreal Colour Riche Nail Colours, which are reliable and cling to nails faithfully for at least double the length of time that normal polishes do (I wrote about them for Marie Claire here). I’d stuck to them loyally until testing the newest wave and finding that Chanel slightly trumped them with their new scaled back Les Vernis range. First, here’s the pictorial evidence – this, my friends, is their Espadrilles polish after 9 days of wear:
So, yes, there are chips, but bear in mind that these hands were behind an entire house overhaul and a gloveless gardening session, and you’ll understand why I’m bowled over by the long-wear part of the new formula. Other charms to the 15-strong collection? No need for a topcoat, a thicker formula that means two coats is truly all you need for a proper whack of colour, and the brush is a bit fatter and therefore easier to use.
Essie have also thrown themselves in the ring, releasing 25 Gel Couture nail polishes that require no base coats and are meant to hang around for longer than their ordinary polishes (though Essie haven’t pinned any exact length of wear onto their marketing material)… I’ve found them to be reliably longer-wearing than their usual offerings, though not quite as hardy as Chanel’s newbies. That said, the colour range is extensive so if you are all about finding that perfect deep aubergine, I’d look at Essie’s range first.
On the high street, Revlon have taken a cue from Chanel and reformulated their bestselling ColorStay Gel Envy Diamond Top Coat, making it shinier and stronger than its predecessor. While Revlon want you to use their nail polish underneath, I’ve had a little experiment with this and have found it seems to extend the life of any polish worn with it so I’d opt for this one if wearing on top of a favourite nail polish.