Review: Essie's New Gel Nail Polish System

What to know about the new offering from Essie.

Now that gel nail polish is here to stay, mega nail brand Essie has finally released its own version. Even though founder Essie Weingarten made many statements saying she was anti-gel nails, she claimed to have finally found a formula worthy of her famous brand name this year. The salon-only professional service is available at select nail salons right now, including the Essie flagship salon at Samuel Shriqui in New York City.

Here's a peek into the system and a look at what to expect from it.

Part One: Prep + Finish Nail Cleanser: This product is designed to completely remove all residue from nails, which is essential to a good gel manicure. The manicurist saturates a cotton ball with the solution and thoroughly rubs over the surface of every nail to remove oil, debris, and polish.

Part Two: Base Coat. This clear polish forms the first layer of gel on top of your bare nails. Each nail is then "cured" under the special Essie gel UV lamp for 30 seconds to set the gel base coat.

Part Three: Gel Color. Essie gel polish comes in a variety of colors, but they aren't named the same as Essie's regular polishes. However, the colors do match up, so you'll likely find your favorite shade among them as Essie deliberately put most of its bestsellers into the lineup. Here's a cheat sheet of some of the more popular pairings:

Gel Color vs. Essie Color
Dance Class = Ballet Slippers
Amusing Bouche = Mademoiselle
Deep Pockets = Sugar Daddy
On My Team = Mod Squad
Street Rocker = Wicked
Pucker Up = Chinchilly
Frisky Femininity = Lilacism
Fashion Crowd = Mint Candy Apple
Sweat Girl = Angora Cardi
Blizzard = Blanc

As you can see, there's a nice range of new and old favorites in the lineup, as well as a few colors exclusive to the gel system alone.

Two coats of the gel color are applied, each one cured for 30 minutes under the UV lamp as with the base coat.

Part Four: Top Coat. This clear top coat seals the gel polish and cures for a full minute under the UV lamp. According to the brand, the gel manicure will last up to 14 days without chipping, making it similar in longevity to most other gel manicure options.

Part Five: Gel Remover. Essie's gel polish system comes with its own acetone-based gel polish remover. However, regular acetone will also work to dissolve the formula, so it's up to you whether you want to use the brand's version or any pure acetone you find at the beauty supply store.

I tested out the Essie gel manicure in New York City at the flagship Essie at Samuel Shriqui Salon. This salon stocks the full gel line (along with every other regular Essie polish in existence). The entire process took just under an hour, and as with most gel nails, mine were completely dry when I left the salon.

The manicure resisted chipping for the first week, with some slight chips noticeable by the second week (which is typical for me). Overall, I felt it was worth the time and would get it again. My color choice for the first time was Duster Not Buster, a rich cool gray equivalent to Essie's Mink Muffs polish.

You can search for a local Essie salon on their website, so if you're interested in finding this service near you, go here. Having trouble, or have a question about the service? Contact Essie's Customer Service team at 1-866-313-7845.