Like the idea of a shiny, long-lasting, chip-free manicure but don’t want to go to the salon or stick your hands under a light? Here, five gel-like options that solve those dilemmas. 

By Chelsea Traber Burns
November 21, 2016
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
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Another two-step system—no base coat required—that seals in color with the top coat. The topper only works with Essie Gel Couture colors but, with 42 to choose from, you’ll easily find one to fit your mood. The swiveled polish wand helps prevent big drops of polish from dripping onto the nail for a more professional paint job. To buy: Essie Gel Couture: $11.50, ulta.com; Essie Gel Couture Top Coat: $11.50, ulta.com.
ulta.com
ulta.com

1
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Twin Pack

This two-step process doesn’t require a base coat. Instead, it uses the top coat to bind with the color for a gel-like finish for up to 14 days of wear. Tip: Be sure nails are clean and very dry before applying two coats of color (it’ll stick better), then finish with the gel top coat. You can only use the matching Sally Hansen Miracle Gel colors, but, with 73 to choose from, you won’t feel restricted.

To buy: $16, ulta.com.

ulta.com

2
Essie Gel Couture

Another two-step system—no base coat required—that seals in color with the top coat. The topper only works with Essie Gel Couture colors but, with 42 to choose from, you’ll easily find one to fit your mood. The swiveled polish wand helps prevent big drops of polish from dripping onto the nail for a more professional paint job.

To buy: Essie Gel Couture: $11.50, ulta.com; Essie Gel Couture Top Coat: $11.50, ulta.com.

sephora.com

3
Nails Inc Gel Effects

This polish delivers plump, high-shine color without the need for a top or base coat. It also contains a flower extract that conditions and strengthen nails while you’re wearing it. Simply apply two coats of polish onto clean, dry nails. Available in eight shades.

To buy: $15, sephora.com.

sephora.com

4
Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro

Pair this gel base and top coat set with any nail polish to create a long-lasting, gel-like manicure. Though it is a pricier pick, it works with colors you already own, so you won’t have to buy new ones. It’s seven-free (formulated without the seven major chemicals found in some polish) and contains biotin and green tea to strengthen nails while you wear it.

To buy: $45, sephora.com.

sephora.com

5
Julep Freedom Polymer Top Coat

For a fast way to get a gel-like effect, swipe this top coat over regular nail polish. The formula takes a little longer to dry (a full five minutes), but the smoothing effect is totally worth it. This formula is cruelty-free, gluten-free, vegan friendly, and has a UV filter to prevent yellowing and staining.

To buy: $9, sephora.com.