Have you ever been to a nail salon and loved the application of the gel polish they use? Nail salons use high-quality and professional gel polishes to ensure their customers are getting the best results.
As a professional nail technician for more than 5 years working at multiple nail salons, I can help you pick the best gel polishes that are salon-level quality (some of the products are used by my current nail salon). You will be able to perfect a gel manicure by the end of this article.
So, let’s jump right into the answer to what gel polish nail salons use below!
What Gel Polish Do Nail Salons Use?
Nail salons use professional quality gel polish brands such as OPI, Sally Hansen, Chanel, Essie, Dior, Gellen, CND, and Beetles. Some of these brands are not available to buy online as individual customers. They are long-lasting and chip-free with a beautiful glossy finish.
I personally see most nail salons use OPI, CND, and Gelish.
In this article, we will review all well-known gel polish brands in depth so you can paint your nails at home and achieve a beautiful manicure.
We will also provide you with some tips on how to paint your nails at home with gel polish, so you can give yourself a manicure like a pro!
The great thing is that you can also buy this gel polish yourself and achieve a professional manicure from the comfort of your home.
So, let’s get started with me!
1. Gelish Soak-Off Gel Polish
Gelish Soak-Off Gel Polish comes in 190+ different shades. It is a huge shade range. You can find different shades in all the color families such as nudes, pinks, corals, reds, etc. You can also get shimmery colors from Gelish. Like many of the other gels, they cure within 30 seconds under an LED lamp.
They have their own gel top coats too. You can follow the two-step gel polish method by applying a topcoat on the gel polish. The top coat seals everything in and provides extra shine to your nails. All this ensures salon-level manicures with a gorgeous look.
Gelish also has matte topcoats available, if you don’t like the traditional shine of gel polish. You can easily remove the gel polish by the soaking method.
Gelish Soak-Off Gel Polish provides long-lasting and chip-free wear. It is one of the best gel polishes on the market and is used by many nail technicians due to its amazing quality.
2. OPI Gel Color
OPI is possibly the most popular and well-known brand for gel nail polish among nail professionals. They have an array of different colors in many shades. Their gel nail polish is of professional quality and provides you with shiny-looking nails. OPI gel polish lasts for a week or two and cures within 30 seconds under a UV lamp.
Tips: Keep in mind that not all gel polish coats have the same curing time, so make sure to check out my guide about how long it takes for gel polish to dry, in which I explain the curing process in depth.
Shimmers, solids, base coats, and top coats, are available in gel OPI nail polish. They are also non-damaging and they promote the importance of maintaining healthy nails.
OPI gel color feels lightweight on your fingers. Even though their gel polish is long-lasting, they aren’t hard to remove. You can easily remove OPI gel polish by using the soak-off method. This involves buffing the old nail polish, then wrapping them in cotton wool, soaked in acetone, then wrapping again each finger using aluminum foil. Complete this process one finger at a time. Leave for approximately 15 minutes, then remove.
Another benefit of OPI’s is that their nail colors are smudge-proof. You get a gorgeous choice of colors in this brand. Whether you are a nude and neutral nail lover or a bright maroon nail lover, you are bound to find your favorites by OPI.
3. CND Shellac Gel Polish
You get 160+ professional quality gel nail colors by CND to choose from! CND is a popular brand, known for its long-lasting gel polish. Their gel polish has a glossy finish and looks alluring on your nails.
You can wear CND Shellac Gel Polish for 14+ days without any chipping. All the ingredients in the gel polish are safe for your nails so you don’t have to worry about nail damage. These shades won’t stain your nails either.
The nail polish applicator is extremely easy to use with its curve-hugging design. It picks up the product very well and provides an even application to your nails.
Removing CND Shellac Gel Polish is as effortless as applying it. You don’t need heavy scrubbing or scraping to remove it.
It requires an LED lamp for curing and increasing the wearability of the gel polish. Pair the gel polish with CND Shellac Top Coat for a scratch-resistant and long-lasting gel manicure.
4. Gellen Soak-Off Gel Nail Polish
Gellen sells gel nail polish in sets. You can get a set of 6, 10, 12, 16, 25, or 36. Their gel nail sets are reasonably-priced and high-quality.
Their gel polish has a non-toxic formula that keeps your nails safe from any damage. You don’t have to worry about staining your nails after using Gellen Soak-Off Gel Nail Polish.
All their gel polish is long-lasting and chip-resistant. So, you can wear your favorite color for days without having to reapply it.
5. Essie Gel Couture Longwear Nail Polish
Essie is a worldwide known brand and is known for making amazing quality gel nail polish. Their products are long-lasting but removing them is as easy as regular nail polish.
Essie Gel Couture nail polish comes in 11 different color families such as:
- Metallic and Glitters
All these color families have a wide variety of shades to choose from. So, anyone can find their favorite gel polish by Essie.
Essie provides an even color. You do have to apply a double coat of nail polish and seal it with their shiny topcoat. The end result is a gorgeous and shiny gel manicure that lasts for weeks.
The formula created by Essie Gel Couture means fade-resistant and chip-resistant nails. So, you won’t have to reapply the gel polish on your nails every other day.
When it comes to removal, you can use either acetone or non-acetone removers.
6. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish is the closest you can get to a salon-level gel manicure at home. It is the number 1 gel polish in the US. The brand has different topcoats as well as a large shade range of gel polish.
Their topcoats provide extra shine to your nails. They include:
- Unicorn Topcoat
- Shiny Topcoat
- Crystal Topcoat
- Sugar Topcoat
The topcoat you choose will create a different look from the others; they are all different and unique. You won’t find such a variety of gel topcoats anywhere else.
They currently have 96 shades of gel polish to choose from. The gel polish lasts up to 8 days on your nails without chipping.
The best thing about this gel polish is that you don’t need a UV lamp to cure it. It is possible to airdry Sally Hansen Gel Polish too. So, no need to spend extra money on UV lamps!
7. Beetles Gel Polish
Beetles is a nail polish brand that masters gel polish. There are 150+ individual shades and several different finishes such as matte, glossy, sparkles, pastel, etc.
The best thing about Beetles is their nail polish sets. You can choose their sets for different occasions and seasons. For example, their fall set consists of 6 fall-friendly gel colors whereas the Christmas set consists of 20 beautiful gel colors.
Their gel polish is toxin-free (such as toluene, formaldehyde, sulfates, etc) and safe to use. The formula of Beetles Gel Polish has gone through different methods of testing to ensure they provide high-quality gels to their customers.
Beetles Gel Polish lasts for 2-3 weeks without chipping. You can remove the gel polish by using the soaking method, mentioned earlier.
8. Dior Vernis
Dior is a luxury brand that sells makeup, clothing, fragrance, skincare, and spa products. One of the best sellers, by Dior, is the Vernis Gel Couture nail polish. It has a protecting formula that keeps your nails stain-free, gorgeous, and healthy.
It is an expensive brand but the product is worth the money. The gel polish is long-lasting and has a beautiful shine. You can find gorgeous shades by Dior. Red and Brown shades by Dior are the most famous ones. So, if you want a classic red gel nail polish that provides you with a royal manicure, you must try Dior Vernis.
The gel polish not only provides a beautiful manicure but also enhances the texture of your natural nails. What’s better than an alluring manicure that makes your nails strong and healthy?
9. Chanel Le Gel Coat
Want to give a gel polish effect to any regular nail polish? Try the Chanel Le Gel Longwear Topcoat. It is a beautiful long-wear topcoat that makes your regular polish last for up to 7 days.
You get an ultra-glossy finish and it provides a protective layer that keeps the nail polish scratchless and chip-free.
By investing in this topcoat, you can make all your nail polish long-lasting and shiny. The best thing about Le Gel Topcoat is that it doesn’t require a UV lamp for curing. Traditional Gel Polish always needs an LED or UV lamp to dry completely. You can save yourself some money by buying the Le Gel Topcoat.
10. Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro
Deborah Lippmann has beautiful gel nail polish colors. Their products are long-lasting and come in different finishes. They are a great alternative to gel polish as they perform similarly to it. However, these don’t require curing under an LED lamp.
Gel Lab Pro nail polish promotes healthy nails and enhances the strength of your natural nails. Their shade range is mesmerizing as well. The Gel Lab Pro polish has 10 ingredients that promote healthy nails. These include:
- Rice Protein
- Carnauba Wax
- Nonychosine F
- Evening Primrose
- Green Tea Extract
Tips to Achieve a Salon-Level Gel Manicure
The technique you use to apply gel polish on your nails matters as much as the product you use. Therefore, you should paint your nails with gel polish in the right way to get a gorgeous manicure. Messy manicures don’t look pretty at all and no one wants to have such a look.
Follow our tips below to get a salon-level gel manicure!
1. Prepare Your Nails Before Painting Them
Preparing your nails allows for a smooth surface to apply the gel polish. It helps the gel polish glide perfectly on your nails and provides an even application.
- The first step in preparing your nails is to file them. After filing, make sure you get rid of all the residue by cleaning your nails with wipes.
- Push your cuticles back using a cuticle pusher so they don’t interrupt the application.
- Use cuticle oil on your cuticles such as OPI ProSpa Nail Cuticle Oil. Cuticle oils keep your nails healthy and protect them from any harmful chemicals present in the gel polish.
- Buff your nails to provide an extra-smooth surface for the gel polish to stick perfectly.
2. Never Skip Base Coat
Skipping the base coat is a mistake many people make while doing their nails at home. You always need a base coat for gel polish. The base coat helps the gel polish stick better to your nails. It also prevents the nail polish from staining your nails. A base coat keeps your manicure long-lasting and even.
3. Apply the Colored Coat Properly
Applying the colored coat must be done after the base coat is completely cured. You can apply a colored gel coat or two depending on what design you are doing. If it’s just a plain color, one coat should be enough in most cases. But if you are doing design art on a colored background, then you will need to apply 2 coats.
Remember to not apply more than two coats of gel polish. Otherwise, it may look lumpy and uneven. It will also make your gel polish too thick and will look unnatural.
4. Always Cure Every Layer
LED lamps are very important for gel manicures. Without an LED lamp, the gel polish won’t dry completely. You have to cure every layer of polish you apply under an LED lamp for a perfect application. If you are new to this gel polish world, you need to know how long gel polish takes to dry for each coat, so that your gel polish doesn’t over or under cure.
Tips: When gel polish is under-cured, it will not be as solid and is sticky. You just need to cure it more under UV light. On the other hand, if your gel polish over cures, you need to know what to do next to fix the issue (check out my other guide).
5. End with a Top Coat
A gel polish top coat is as vital as a base coat. It keeps the gel polish chip-free and resistant to any scratches. Without a topcoat, the gel polish might not last as long as you expect.
6. Alcohol Wipes are Important
One thing about gel polish is that it feels sticky even if you cure it under an LED lamp. The easiest way to get rid of the tackiness is to wipe the surface with alcohol wipes. Do this step after applying and curing the topcoat on the gel polish.
Nail salons use high-quality and professional gel polish. Brands like Essie, OPI, Dior, Sally Hansen, etc are great for a salon-level gel manicure. The technique you use to apply gel polish also matters. So, never skip any step while applying gel polish to your nails if you want a beautiful and smooth manicure.