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The Blog

Approachable inspiration for a stylish life. 


The Drugstore Polish That *Actually* Lasts a Full Week

Kristen Berry

I’ve never been the kind of girl who can wear a standard, self-applied, drugstore polish manicure for more than a day or two before it becomes hopelessly, embarrassingly chipped.

Maybe it’s because my nails are dry and brittle and flaky. Maybe it’s because I’m always rummaging blindly in my purse for my keys or my lipgloss. Whatever the reason, I can’t be bothered to paint my nails these days if there isn’t a special occasion involved – not because I like the look of my nude, aforementioned dry/brittle/flaky nails, but because I can’t stand repainting them every couple of days.

When I heard that Essie – my go-to nail polish brand – released a line of lacquer that lasts up to 14 days, without requiring a UV lamp to set it or harsh chemicals to remove it, I had to put it to the test.

Essie Gel Couture Polish in    Touch Up   , $11.50 at; Essie Gel Couture    Top Coat   , $11.50 at

Essie Gel Couture Polish in Touch Up, $11.50 at; Essie Gel Couture Top Coat, $11.50 at

I purchased a bottle of the new Essie Gel Couture polish line in “Touch Up,” a beautiful, neutral, pinky mauve shade, as well as bottle of the corresponding top coat. I painted my nails using my typical routine: one layer of a standard clear base coat, followed by two coats of the Gel Couture color polish, followed by a layer of the Gel Couture top coat, with 2-5 minutes between coats.

I painted my nails on a Wednesday night. And they remained perfect through Thursday. And Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday....

I was dumbfounded. I treated my nails exactly the same as always, doing dishes, rooting through my purse, etc. And even when I closely examined my my nails four full days later, I found zero chips or dings or imperfections of any kind. The only other time I’ve experienced this is when I’ve sprung for a pricey shellac manicure at a salon – but they’re not great for your nails, and require soaking your nails in harsh acetone to remove the varnish.

I didn’t spot any blemishes until Monday – one noticeable chip on my right pinkie, and the polish was beginning to grow out slightly from the cuticle under close inspection. By Tuesday, I noticed small micro chips at the tips of some of my nails, though thanks to the neutral color I selected, it wasn’t very noticeable. By Wednesday, I noticed more visible peeling from the cuticle, and additional small chips at the tips of my nails. But this was day 8 – day 8 of my mani with the Essie Gel Couture line looked like day 4 with my standard drugstore polish.

Bottom line – I’m in love. Sure, the range didn’t last a full 14 days on my nails before I was ready to remove it, but the same goes for my shellac manicures. By day 10 my shellac polish is so incredibly grown out that I can’t stand it any more. And when I remove the Gel Couture product, my nails feel just as healthy as when I remove a standard polish – when I remove a shellac manicure, my nails always feel stripped, rough and ultra-dry.

If you’re looking for a long-lasting nail polish at a drugstore price, I highly recommend the Essie Gel Couture system. I’m running out to buy a handful of new shades right now.

– Kristen