I've always enjoyed doing my own nails. Back in the days of heavy nail art, I used to even share my weekly manicures on here! I used to spend so much time, trying to come up with cute combinations and making sure my nails look picture perfect. To be honest, while some of those designs seem a bit ridiculous and over the top now, I can truly say I do miss glitter accent nails! Come on, you have to admit they are pretty darn cute.
Growing up, I was only ever allowed to wear super neutral nail polish colors (no "slutty red" around my parents' house!). I basically rebelled once I moved out and wore black nail polish for years, but those pale pastel colors are now definitely my staple nail polish. You'll hardly ever catch me with a color other than light pink or white on my nails! I like the way they look, but I also think it looks more professional.
I had a pretty good method of applying polish that really made my manicures last almost an entire week without chipping. I started with Orly's bonder base coat, then 2-3 layers of almost exclusively Essie polishes (my favorites are minimalistic, go ginza, and peak show), and then 2 layers of Seche Vite. Like I said, I could go about 5-7 days without a single chip, which I think was pretty great for a non gel manicure!
As an obvious Essie enthusiast, I was pretty excited when they launched their new Gel Couture line, which promises a gel-like manicure you use at home, without any lights, that should last up to 14 days. I've had a few gel manicures over the years, and I have mixed feelings about them. On the pros list is that they obviously don't chip, and look amazing for at least a week. On the con side, which is longer, is that you have to pay someone else to do your nails, it costs more money, the outgrowth doesn't look great, and it's a pain in the ass to remove. I've also tried various top coats at home that promise to be like a gel manicure, and have never been impressed. So an at home system that promises the longevity of a salon gel manicure with the convenience of an at home manicure was something I very much wanted in my nail painting life.
So off to Target I went to buy the sheer nude pink of Fairy Tailor (around $11) plus the top coat (another $11), although apparently some colors come in a kit for $18 (my store just didn't have that option). You have to use the specific Gel Couture polish with the top coat for it to work (a bit more about that in a bit). After trimming and filing my nails, and fixing my cuticles, I applied a base coat, then applied three coats of the color polish, and then two coats of the top coat.
One of the biggest differences you'll notice between regular Essie polish and the Gel Couture line is that the brush is much larger. I initially didn't think I'd like the broader brush, but with a just a slight adjustment of my normal technique, it really does make the whole process much quicker. I've read several other reviews that were initially surprised by the broader brush, but quickly learned to love it.
the results! If you follow along on instagram or snapchat, I was giving a few updates throughout my time wearing the polish. I am very impressed by this system. For the first seven days, my nails look absolutely perfect, like I had just painted them. Around day 7, I noticed that my nails showed a bit of growth, which is expected. Around day 9-10, I noticed that the tips were just slightly worn - something I only noticed because I was looking very closely, but it wasn't something you could see from more than two feet away. The picture above is from day 12, where you can see it shows just a little bit of peeling around the edges. This is different than the little cracks I often get with regular pastel polish (I hate those little cracks!). Day 13 is the day I got my first chip, and is the day I removed the polish. It came off easily with my preferred non-acetone remover.
Obviously, I love this system because it did exactly what it promised! The polish stayed put, it didn't crack or chip, and it give me almost a full two weeks of perfect nails.
Initially, my biggest complaint was going to be that they don't have a white color, which is my preferred summer shade, but it turns out they do make one, my Target just didn't carry that color (it's called pre-show jitters, you can see a swatch of it here). If you have a large nail polish collection, and you like a variety of colors on your hands throughout the month, the Gel Couture line may not be for you since you have to use their color (there are currently 42 colors to pick from) and their top coat to get the lasting effects. But if you are like me in the sense that you have 2-3 colors you always use, you don't mind or even prefer doing your own nails, you like your nails to look fresh, and you don't want to mess with your nails more then 2-3 times a month, then the Essie Couture line is exactly what you've been looking for. For the cost of one salon gel manicure, you can get months worth of manicures at home. I'm very pleased, and will continue to explore their line of colors, with the hopes that they expand it in the next few months!