• Top 10 Best Gel Nail Polishes in the UK 2021(Essie, Sally Hansen and More) 1
  • Top 10 Best Gel Nail Polishes in the UK 2021(Essie, Sally Hansen and More) 2
  • Top 10 Best Gel Nail Polishes in the UK 2021(Essie, Sally Hansen and More) 3
  • Top 10 Best Gel Nail Polishes in the UK 2021(Essie, Sally Hansen and More) 4
  • Top 10 Best Gel Nail Polishes in the UK 2021(Essie, Sally Hansen and More) 5

Top 10 Best Gel Nail Polishes in the UK 2021(Essie, Sally Hansen and More)

Gel and gel-effect nail polishes have revolutionised the UK beauty industry, and are your best option for achieving a long-lasting, salon-quality manicure at home. Their gloriously thick formula can be layered to form a tough, shiny surface over your natural nails, and unlike regular varnishes, gels actually build the appearance of size and volume on each fingernail, making them a striking addition to any glamorous outfit.

Among the vast array of brands offering gel colours online, there are some seriously impressive options, such as, Sally Hansen, Essie and Barry M. We've searched through them all to discover the pros and cons of professional gel and gel-effect polishes, including which are easiest to both apply and remove; all of which are available from Amazon, eBay, John Lewis and Asda. Use our handy guide to absolutely nail your gel manicure every time! 

  • Last updated: 05-02-2021
  • 6,711 views
Table of Contents

How to Choose a Gel Nail Polish in the UK - Buying Guide

Picking out a gel nail polish to buy online can be made much easier by keeping in mind a few basic pointers. Here we'll talk you through the details of using different types of gel polishes, the key features of each, and their perks and drawbacks. Let's get stuck in.

Professional Gel Vs Gel-Effect; Consider Budget, Time and Potential Nail Damage

There are two types of gel polish available online which you'll probably be choosing from; serious professional-grade polishes and more accessible gel-effect versions by high street brands. Here we explore the benefits of both and think about the process of using and removing them.

Professional Gel Polishes Are Long-Lasting But Require a UV Lamp

Professional Gel Polishes Are Long-Lasting But Require a UV Lamp

These gel polishes are a very thick variety that hardens to a tough shell-like layer and will last a good couple of weeks before growing out. They need to be set with a UV lamp, which you'll have to buy separately and are better suited to serious manicure junkies or even professional nail artists seeking to offer clients the best possible results. 


Their main draw is that they're fairly indestructible, only chipping after serious wear and tear. They also build up your nails to give the appearance of thick, durable talons – hiding weaker, less impressive claws just beneath! The downside? They require some serious effort and chemicals to remove. 


Soaking the gel polish in acetone is one option, which works well but causes damage to your natural nails. Gel nails can also be removed using some rather aggressive filing, which again is not the best for your real fingernails. If you insist on proper professional-grade polish, be sure to invest in a nourishing nail cream and a protective nail strengthener, to give your natural talons a break between manis.  

Gel-Effect Nail Polishes Are Generally Cheaper and Easier to Remove

Gel-Effect Nail Polishes Are Generally Cheaper and Easier to Remove

As an alternative to the more advanced gel polishes, there's now a happy medium on the market: gel-effect nail colours. They look tougher and shinier than regular polishes but don't require a UV lamp to be set, or harsh chemicals and violent scrubbing to remove - they can be removed with plain old nail polish remover. 


Gel-effect polish gives nails a glossy finish that also lasts flawlessly for far longer than regular nail varnish. It builds up a fairly thick layer that won't budge or crack but can be removed much more quickly than a professional manicure. Many high street gel nail brands come with a special final coat, which helps to accentuate their shine. 

A Gel-Effect Top Coat Can Be Used With Gel and Regular Polishes

A Gel-Effect Top Coat Can Be Used With Gel and Regular Polishes

The third option you have is to simply buy a gel-effect top-coat and use it with a regular nail polish. It won't be as impressively thick as when used in tandem with a gel-effect polish, but it's a slightly more affordable way of ensuring polish looks slick, and lasts a good deal longer than without it. 

Know Which Chemicals Are Safe and Which to Use Cautiously

Know Which Chemicals Are Safe and Which to Use Cautiously

Of course, most nail varnishes contain somewhat stronger chemicals than say, a gentle facial soap, but there are certain ones to be aware of so you can know which are harmful and which are deemed safe according to national health standards.


Two ingredients that are definitely best avoided are toluene and dibutyl phthalate. These are officially prohibited and would be illegal if found in modern nail polishes. Formaldehyde - a natural organic compound - is another ingredient that sometimes appears on nail varnish ingredients lists. It sounds scary but is in fact deemed safe to use by EU regulations. 


These days it's mostly absent from high street nail colours, but may appear in more high-strength, professional formulas. Check your polish is formaldehyde-free for peace of mind. 

Consider Its Longevity If You Change Your Nails Often

Consider Its Longevity If You Change Your Nails Often

Proper gel polishes should last a minimum of two weeks, if several layers are applied and dried each time using a UV lamp. Gel-effect nail varnishes however, should come with a rough estimate of their lasting time.


If you want a polish that can be relatively easily removed, pick one that promises around 7 days of wear. This means it can be easily cleaned off before you get impatient for the next colour. Polishes that promise to last 10 days and upwards will generally be thicker and tougher when dried, bringing you closer to that authentic 'shellac' manicure look. 

Cruelty-Free Polishes Are the Best Pick For Ethical Shoppers

Cruelty-Free Polishes Are the Best Pick For Ethical Shoppers

Those who want to make sure they're buying the kindest possible product should look out for the leaping bunny logo, which proves your gel polish was not tested on animals. You can also conduct some research on the brands' ethical stance via their website.


Stronger professional gels are sometimes imported from countries with different ethical standards to the UK, so it's best to note this when you're purchasing one. But there are many gel-effect polishes that are entirely vegan and cruelty-free, which is great news!

Top 10 Best Gel Nail Polishes in the UK

With these thoughts fresh in your mind, you can now take a look at our selection of the top 10 best gel nail polishes available to buy online in the UK this year. With a mix of UV-curing and daylight curing products, we hope we've found something for every taste. 

10
Volume12ml
TypeGel-effect
UV Lamp RequiredNo
LastsUp to 14 days
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeNo
9
Volume15ml
TypeGel
UV Lamp RequiredYes
Lasts2 weeks+
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeNo
8
Volume15ml
TypeGel
UV Lamp RequiredYes
Lasts2 weeks+
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeNo
7

MaybellineSuperstay 3D Gel Effect Plumping Top Coat

£3.75

Volume10ml
TypeTop coat
UV Lamp RequiredNo
Lasts7 days
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeNo
6

AimeiliSoak Off UV Gel Nail Polish

Set of 6

£15.99

Volume6x10ml
TypeGel
UV Lamp RequiredYes
Lasts2 weeks+
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeNo
5

FairyGloGel Nail Colours

Set of 5

£14.99

Volume5x10ml
TypeGel
UV Lamp RequiredYes
Lasts2 weeks+
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeNo
4
Volume13.5ml
TypeGel-effect
UV Lamp RequiredNo
LastsUp to 2 weeks
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeNo
3
Volume10ml
TypeGel-effect
UV Lamp RequiredNo
LastsUp to 7 days
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeYes
2
Volume14ml
TypeGel-effect
UV Lamp RequiredNo
Lasts7 days
Formaldehyde-Free Yes
Cruelty-FreeYes
1
Volume14.7ml
TypeGel-effect
UV Lamp RequiredNo
Lasts2 weeks+
Formaldehyde-FreeYes
Cruelty-FreeYes

Compare the Best Gel Nail Polishes

Image
1
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel 1

Sally Hansen

2
Nails Inc Gel Effect Nail Polish 1

Nails Inc

3
Barry M Gelly Hi Shine 1

Barry M

4
Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish 1

Essie

5
FairyGlo Gel Nail Colours  1

FairyGlo

6
Aimeili Soak Off UV Gel Nail Polish 1

Aimeili

7
Maybelline Superstay 3D Gel Effect Plumping Top Coat 1

Maybelline

8
Elite99 Soak Off Gel Polish  1

Elite99

9
LeChat Perfect Match 1

LeChat

10
Rimmel London Super Gel Nail Polish 1

Rimmel London

Name

Miracle Gel

Gel Effect Nail Polish

Gelly Hi Shine

Gel Couture Nail Polish

Gel Nail Colours

Soak Off UV Gel Nail Polish

Superstay 3D Gel Effect Plumping Top Coat

Soak Off Gel Polish

Perfect Match

Super Gel Nail Polish

Features

Beautiful Pro Colour That Lasts

Bestseller for Superb Chip Resistance

Bargain Price Tag With a Brilliant Shine

Salon-Sleek Nails at Home

Great, Glossy Coverage With Added Sparkle

Fabulous Chip-Free Nails With a Mirror Shine

Lock In Colour With A Plumping Top-Coat

Non-Toxic Gels in Kaleidoscope Shades

Intense Professional, Long-Lasting Colour

Best Gel Nails for a Bargain Price

Price£5.95£15.00£3.99£5.99£14.99£15.99£3.75£6.99£9.95£3.45
Volume14.7ml14ml10ml13.5ml5x10ml6x10ml10ml15ml15ml12ml
TypeGel-effectGel-effectGel-effectGel-effectGelGelTop coatGelGelGel-effect
UV Lamp RequiredNoNoNoNoYesYesNoYesYesNo
Lasts2 weeks+7 daysUp to 7 daysUp to 2 weeks2 weeks+2 weeks+ 7 days2 weeks+2 weeks+Up to 14 days
Formaldehyde-FreeYes YesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Cruelty-FreeYesYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Link

Treat Your Nails to Even More Pampering

Treat Your Nails to Even More Pampering

Whether your weakness is manicures, pedicures, or pampering yourself from talon to toe, have a peek at our other related articles – they're chock full of advice and product recommendations to give your nails all the self-care they deserve

Summary

So that's that! Our user-friendly buying guide should hopefully have helped you get your claws into the basics of gel nail polish, allowing you to easily identify what makes for an effective and good value product. You'll be all set for a scintillating manicure that will last without chipping, and bring effortless chic to any Christmas party or New Year's feast. 

Author: Annie Hopkins

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