We've all heard the lofty beauty product claims: foundations that last 18 hours, serums that contain wrinkle-erasing magic crystals, and, of course,
nail polish that looks and lasts like gel, but doesn't require a UV lamp or the damaging removal process. And we're always a little skeptical — because if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
But in the past few years, affordable nail brands have doubled-down on the idea of
Wet n Wild 1 Step Wonder Gel
"Provides up to 2 weeks of color and shine in 1 easy step."
Lexy Lebsack, senior beauty editor
Wet n Wild
1 Step Wonder Gel Polish in Crime Of Passion, $4.99, available at
Wet n Wild
heard great things about this polish
firsthand so I had been dying to try it for months. A few initial observations: The polish smells a
stronger than most, so apply it outdoors or in a well-ventilated room.
"The formula is a bit thinner than most regular polishes, so go easy or you'll end up having drips onto your cuticles. It dries very quickly and the brush is wide and flat, so the actual manicure was a breeze. I prepped my nails with a bit of hand sanitizer on a tissue (I was at work) to clean up any residue or oil, and the polish went on beautifully along with the accompanying base and top coat.
"The color is GORG and I could have stopped at one coat; it's very opaque and bright. The hue is a dead ringer for
Deborah Lippmann's It's Raining Men
, which is one of my favorite reds."
Day 3 "By day 3, the polish had not moved — score! The shine dulled a little, but no chips, yet."
Day 7 "By day six, I had a tiny chip or two. The polish had receded slightly from the tips — but it still looked darn good. By day seven, I had a few more chips at the fingertips, but nothing that would make me remove the polish. I kept wearing this polish for a few days after, so 10 days in total. And it was easy to remove. I would definitely use this polish again; I may even take it into a salon to see how long they can make it last. A+!"
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel
14 days of color and shine The Tester:
Mi-Anne Chan, beauty writer
Miracle Gel Polish in Red Eye, $9.99, available at
Day 1 "As soon as I opened Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel Polish, I had a hunch I'd love it. The brush is super-wide, meaning it can coat my entire nail in one or two strokes. The formula is opaque and never left streaks. After applying two coats of the polish, I followed up with the brand's top coat which made my manicure super shiny."
Day 3 "By day three I was surprised that the polish was still in perfect condition on my nails. I am very hard on my hands and this withstood a few hours of guitar playing (a hobby that usually wrecks any manicure)."
Day 7 "The polish continued to impress me for days after that and remained flawless for six days before I finally noticed a tiny chip on my index finger on day seven. At this point, I resolved to take off my polish (which was easy and swift) and start fresh, but I could have rocked it for another day or two if I wasn't picky. "All in all, I was really impressed by the quality of this polish. Sure, it didn't last two full weeks, but it sure-as-hell put the rest of the long-wear polishes I've used to shame."
OPI Infinite Shine
The Claims: "
Gel shine without the light. Last up to 10 days."
Jen Anderson, editorial assistant
Infinite Shine Nail Polish in Big Apple Red, $12.50, available at
Day 1 "On first impression, the polish applied very easily, but the applicator isn’t my favorite. Personally, I’m a fan of larger brushes because I like being able to cover my entire nail in one swoop. "That being said, I loved the formula, which wasn’t too goopy or thick. It was easy to spread out for an opaque, thin coat. I followed up with another layer of the color and the top coat. I’m incredibly impressed with how quickly it dried. For clumsy people like me, this is incredibly helpful. I can’t count how many times I’ve painted my nails and then somehow managed to mess them up 10 minutes later."
Day 3 "The polish wore perfectly for three days. But on the third day, I noticed my first tiny chip. I have to be completely transparent: I’m really hard on my nails, and I have a feeling the combination of washing my hair and aggressively typing lead to the downfall of my manicure."
Day 6 "After 6 days, I had more chips on the sides and tips of my nails. From a distance it didn’t look too bad, but I personally couldn’t stand it so I removed the polish with regular remover. "While I might not wear this on a 2-week vacation, this polish is great for a big event or night out when you need a quick-drying formula that will look flawless. And the shade range is killer."
Essie Gel Couture
"Gel-like perfection in an easy 2-step system [that] provides up to 14 days of color."
Michael Rollings, Associates Partnerships Manager
Gel Couture Nail Polish in Rock The Runway, $11.49, available at
Day 1 "As a chronic nail biter, polishes tend to have a short lifespan on my fingers. So when I heard that Essie was releasing an at-home gel polish, meant to last longer on the nails without the hassle of hitting up a salon, I was intrigued. "The polish itself was really easy to apply, and the color was a stunning true red. Applying the gel top coat was really simple, too, and only took an extra minute or two. Once the polish had dried, I was really impressed with how shiny and 'well done' the mani looked, despite my novice skill level with painting my own nails."
Day 3 "Over the next few days, it totally stayed put on my nails, and didn't peel or chip off in chunks like polish usually does on me. The shiny top layer left by the gel top coat also stayed put, which made it look like I'd just had them done, even after it had been a few days."
Day 7 "At the one week mark, there was a tiny bit of wear and tear on the edges of my nails, but nowhere near what my nails usually look like after seven days. Overall, I was very impressed with the longevity of the mani, and it definitely helped me curtail my nail-biting tendencies, which is an added bonus! "The polish came off easily — though I admittedly bit some of it off. (I know, I know...)"
Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy
"Salon-quality color and diamond-like shine."
Ally Hickson, Senior Social Media Editor
ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Enamel in All On Red, $8.29, available at
"I typically alternate between getting gel manicures and painting my nails with regular polish at home (when I'm lacking in funds or time), so an at-home mani that has the lasting power of gel would be a godsend! I'd never used this polish before, but I have heard lots of rave reviews about the brand's Diamond top coat, so I was pretty excited to give it a whirl.
"I went for the shade All On Red, a vibrant crimson. I applied two coats straight to my clean, dry nails (no base coat needed) and found the polish really easy to apply. You don't need more than one dip in the bottle to do all five fingers — a little goes a long way! To finish, I topped with the brand's
Diamond top coat
Day 3 "After three days, my nails still looked great. Plus, I got a lot of compliments and there was zero chipping. They weren't quite as glossy as they were on day one, but they were holding up."
Day 7 "Days later, my nails still look great! If you get super close, you can see a few little cracks in the polish, but it's nothing too noticeable. At this point, they're starting to look dull compared to how glossy and vibrant they looked on day one, but they look perfect to most people — and isn't that what really counts? Verdict: Worth it."