The lastest in a long line of nail polish brands offering gel like polish with long wear is Essie. Their Gel Couture range has been promoted heavily online for a few months and after pretty darn good experience with the Orly Epix range, the Essie range piqued my interest to try too.
I looked for about a month to find this in stores, and despite promo everywhere, there were no bottles to be found. I wanted to see some of the colours in person to make up my mind as the boots website can be dodgy AF when it comes to their swatch guides, but eventually I caved and just placed an order with my points last month. Of course then I went to store to collect it the next day and the range was there – but a much smaller selection than what’s actually fully available.
What Essie promises with this collection is a high shine, smooth, gel-like finish and 14 day wear time. The range of colours from Essie stands at 35 shades + 1 topcoat (although their website says 42 shades, although I can’t see anywhere that’s got all 42 listed!). The shades are broken down into 4 different collections, Atelier – which is neutral and light, First Look – pastels, Fashion Show – bright pinks and reds & After Party – deep reds, berries & blacks. The collection as a whole is very ‘Essie’ there’s not many shades which fall out of their general pink, red and dusky blue aesthetic and if you’re someone who enjoys a bright colour like me, you might find there’s very little in the range that will currently take your fancy, the one I chose ‘Model Citizen’ was one of the brightest from the bunch from online swatches. The selection is also mostly cream finishes, the only one I can see which isn’t is on Essie’s website and there’s no name next to it for me to work out which it is!
I like the design that Essie went with when it came to the bottles, it feels true to the brand and like someone went in the meeting “We want the Essie bottles with a twist” and that’s literally what happened – although they argue it’s meant to be a woman twirling in a dress inspired, YEAH alright Essie calm down. I was a little disappointed that my topcoat, despite arriving bubble wrapped from boots was chipped on the corners (below), it’s one I’ll be handling delicately as I tend to just throw my topcoat about everywhere, and these are so pretty I want to treasure the bottles.
The brushes are fatter and flatter than the regular Essie line, their slightly curved at the tip which I found made applying the polish both quick and easy. The stems of the brushes on the colours also have a twist in them, not too sure why the topcoat didn’t quite make it, but I presume that was the first thing to be made and they decided to do it last minute! Essie describes best application is to apply two coats of colour, then one layer of topcoat – waiting 60 seconds between each. I was staggered from my first try of this just how quickly it seemed to dry, and the fact it calls for no base coat is also great (although I might be nervous using one of the dark shades without a topcoat for stain protection).
The shade I picked up was Model Citizen – a bright mid pink cream with lilacy undertones. I picked this as I wanted something bright and summery, and I wanted something that was close to the colour on my toes so I could go over it whilst I waited for my pedicure appointment and this was the closest (and a pretty bang on match too if I do say so!)
So I was excited to give this it’s first go, the formula of this applied so, so easily – polish glided on and even without the topcoat the polish itself looked pretty shiny by itself. I applied the topcoat and was impressed, it looked like a gel manicure! Then the bad part – it chipped badly to the point I needed to remove it by day three. Disappointing as this range is more premium than Essie’s normal range at £9.99 each and below average performance was not what I expected, I can normally get 5 days out of most polish! I decided not to write a review straight away slating it, and put it away for a week before retrying, and I’m glad I did, the second experience was much better.
Application etc was all the same as the first, and I got a much longer wear time although not quite the 14 days I was hoping for. By the fifth day I noticed that the polish had lost it’s shine slightly so I added a second layer of topcoat as a topup which bought everything back to life, the manicure by that point was looking perfect still. By day 7 I had wear to the tips and a few small chips in the corners of my most used fingers and thumbs, and by this point I could tell it probably wasn’t going to last the full fortnight it promises.
By day 9 my left hand looked like it had been through a war zone, but this is the hand which always seems to chip quicker and bigger (which is odd as I’m right handed!), I actually did what I normally do which is subconsciously pick off a whole nail once it’s become chipped. The right hand faired much better and made it to day 10 before any small chips started to appear. By Day 12, the chips were much larger and ( due largely down to my left hand) I decided I needed to repaint as I was going to a blogging event and quite frankly looked a mess, if both hands had been as chipped as much as the right, then I might have considered waiting for it til day 14.
Despite the fact it didn’t last the full 2 weeks, I wasn’t too disappointed by its wear either. It certainly outlasted normal polishes, and it dried so quickly that meant if you were tight for time and were going to have a busy week (or two) where redoing your mani many times isn’t going to be an option, then I’d recommend getting yourself this if you don’t love the idea of gel at home. Like I said I’ve also had this on my toes (over a gel that’s badly growing out) and it’s been on for almost four weeks and it’s not chipped at all.