How to do a long-lasting home manicure



Hair and nails can be the best accessory to any outfit, and nothing is quite as discouraging as discovering a chip on freshly painted nails. I’ll be honest, I’ve been a gel manicure kind of gal on my fingernails for a few years now, but as my life is getting busier, I’m finding that I want to spend less and less time sitting in the chair at the nail salon for an hour. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very nice to have an hour of quiet where I can turn my brain off, but I’m always trying to find the right concoction of products for a long-lasting home manicure that won’t chip on day 2!

More important than the polish application itself is the prep work. I thought it would be most helpful to demonstrate each step, so you can watch that below!

How sad is my color coat and top coat lid? Essie sent a few colors from their Gel Couture collection and upon opening the package I realized that the beautiful red shade had broken and covered everything. I spent a bit of time with a cotton ball and nail polish remover to remove the spilled polish from the area where the cap twists on and off so it wouldn’t stick, but then I moved on to another project (probably laundry, to be honest).

So, yes it’s unsightly, but I wanted to show you how the new Gel Couture applies AND wanted to show how nice the finish is. It is thicker, in my opinion, than regular nail polish, but still very easy to apply.


Products and tools: Essie Gel Couture Haute to Trot, Essie Gel Couture Top Coat, Essie 3-way Glaze, OPI Bond Aid, Julep Vanish, cuticle nipper, cuticle pusher, nail file, nail buffer



the bracelet I’m wearing is from Maya Brenner and I wear it every single day. ::heart eye emoji::

*the polishes in the photo are original Essie polishes. My gel couture polishes aren’t exactly photo ready, as you’ll see in the video! Sorry for any confusion. Also, it is not required that you use a base coat with Gel Couture, I just had great results with it!

More of my favorite summer nail polishes here!


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Comments (47)

  1. Rachele says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    I looked at the Essie gel but ended up buying the butter. According to the Essie, it only works with Essie polish, and my polish collection is butter. The butter brand also says it will work with other brands.

    I’m pretty happy with it. My polish lasted for a week without chipping and is still going pretty strong and I cook and do dishes everyday multiple times a day.

    Will Essie work with other nail polish brands? Anyone tried?

    • Chrissy says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      Yes! I’ve used it for a year with other brands like OPI. Love it!

  2. Rebecca Ives says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    I was told you should never buff your nails because it weakens the layers of the nail bed. True?

    • Kate says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      I could certainly see how that would be true, I’m just sharing what works for my nails!

  3. Leigh says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    Hi Kate! I’ve been trying the new Essie Gel colors lately, too. Is that what’s pictured above? Those look like the regular Essie bottles as the new gel ones are “twisted”.

    • Kathryn says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      Agreed, she didn’t include the right bottles.

    • Sarah says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      I was wondering the same thing.

    • Marissa says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      You are correct. The Gel Couture are the twisted looking bottles. The top coat she is using in the straight bottle is the Gel Setter top coat. I did not get to watch the video so it is perhaps correct in there, but the pictures are not the gel couture bottles.

    • Kate says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      My gel couture bottles were massacred from a broken red polish and looked horrific in the photos. You’ll see all the steps I take in the video!

  4. Alyssa says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    Oh so sad that the red polish broke in your box! I’ve been excited to try these. I’m glad to know you like them. I always know a product is a must-buy if you are using it!

  5. Sarah says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    Hey, saw your snap chat about Lukie. His rash may be something called Hand, foot, mouth disease. NOT as scary as it sounds. Look it up. ?

    • Kate says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      It’s not. Thanks for your concern!

      • Sarah says
        Posted August 15, 2016

        Glad to hear! ?

  6. Brittni says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    Does the Essie gel line take longer to dry than their original polish? (I need polish that can dry during nap time ?

  7. Becky says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    LOVED this tutorial!! I had no idea I was using too much polish when I forced (blobbed) polish into the sides of my nails! No wonder my polish always peels! This video is a GAME.CHANGER! But I may have to lift my self-imposed moratorium on buying nail polish and try your Essie gel polish. I sort of have a teensy problem when it comes to resisting new nail polish. *guilty smile*

  8. JNJxn says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    Hey Kate! I’ve been wanting to try this so thanks so much for your review! Questions though…do you have to soak in acetone to remove? How long between coats do you allow it to dry? I understand there aren’t any UV lamps needed to dry. Thanks again!

    • Kate says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      No need to soak in acetone, I let dry about 1 minute, no lamp!

  9. Mel says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    You’re totally right. I used to get gel manicures for years but now I honestly don’t have the time. Plus it can get very pricey. I just get regular manicures but I prefer a salon over doing it myself. If I do it myself, my nails chip by the next day! I need to learn how to get better at it! PS- the Essie color is amazing!! Perfect for summer.

    Mel |

  10. lisa says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    I was curious about putting the bond aid and base coat on with the new essie gel polish. I have it and only getting a week on my nails, not using a base coat or the bond aid. Anyone else using the new essie polish and what has your experience been?

    • Susanna says
      Posted August 15, 2016

      I’ve only been getting 3 days with the Essie Gel Couture set 🙁

      • Caitlin says
        Posted August 17, 2016

        same! I notice it starts wearing away at the tips and if I do a pedi and put shoes on (even over 24 hours later), it’s ruined when I take my shoes off.

  11. Andrea says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    This color is gorgeous! I love Essie, they have the most wonderful selection of colors. I always have the hardest time doing at home manicures! I can never sit still long enough to let them dry!

  12. Heather says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    Your nails look beautiful! I haven’t tried the gel couture essie, but regular essie seems to chip pretty easily. I have the best luck with Zoya polish along with their Anchor base coat and Armour topcoat.

  13. Michele says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    I wish I could handle the feeling of polish on my nails, they look so pretty! My thin nails make it feel like my hands are unbearable filthy. I’m stuck admiring others manis from afar (although the gel manicure I got for my wedding made me feel soooo pretty)

  14. Tuki says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    This post popped up at perfect time, I was about to do my manicure, and your step by step is really helping. Thank you <3

  15. sahara says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    This is so helpful thanks a lot <3


  16. Jaisa says
    Posted August 15, 2016

    Love this post! Neat.

  17. Lola says
    Posted August 16, 2016

    Hi, while this was informative, I found it distracting that the bottles you used were completely out of sight and unsightly. It seemed awkward to have to reach so far to get from the bottle to your nails. Plus, we couldn’t see what you were using. I know you showed us but there was some confusion as to which product you were actually using. Also, your technique wasn’t the best. Or, maybe it was because the polish is thick. It looked kind of gloopy in the video. Sorry, don’t mean to be a downer, but I expected better.

    • Kate says
      Posted August 16, 2016

      I didn’t want to knock the bottles over so I intentionally kept them away. And the polish is thicker than usual. I intentionally chose that polish to demo it because it’s new.

      • Ashley says
        Posted September 25, 2016

        It is a great video! AS always you do an amazing job! I think your technique was perfect! Some people are just always looking for something to complain about. Thanks for taking the time to make the video!

  18. Kelly says
    Posted August 16, 2016

    I love these tips, cuticle care is such an important step!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

  19. Trish Foor says
    Posted August 17, 2016

    Hi Kate, I’m just curious–how many days did your Gel Couture mani last? I tried it with a base coat and mine started to lift from my nail after three days. I repainted without a base coat and it lasted 10 days. I’m just curious about your experience because I’d much rather use a base coat, especially with darker colors. Thank you for your help with this and all your other insights!!

    • Stina says
      Posted September 15, 2016

      I have the same question! I use gel polish with the uv lamp & it will last 3 weeks!! Down side, is that the polish sort of buns my nails when under the lamp…Yikes! that can’t be healthy! I’ll switch, if this version last longer than a week.
      Also, I absolutely adore your youtube channel! I feel like you are my personal hair- stylist-BFF, Kate! Thanks for all you do. <3

  20. Ashley says
    Posted August 18, 2016

    Your nails look great but have you ever tried Jamberry? I’d love to see a review of that!

  21. Erica says
    Posted August 19, 2016

    Love these steps and tutorial!! I’m guilty of the no-prep, quick polish after putting my son to bed. I need the Vanish cuticle remover ASAP! I was gifted some cute nail polish colors for my birthday and in the bunch was the wet n wild 1 step wonder gel … It is way better than I imagined. Super cute colors, decent coverage, quick drying and has held up quite nicely this summer, even with lots of swimming!! In case you’re in the market for another polish to try!! Thanks for the great posts and tutorial. You have for sure helped me step up my makeup, hair, nail & mom game ?

  22. Katie says
    Posted August 21, 2016

    I’m trying most of this today, ordering the things that I can’t get at Target! I loved this tutorial, thank you!! <3

  23. Amy says
    Posted August 29, 2016

    Hi Kate, I love this video and wanted to buy the Julep Vanish for my cuticles but can’t find it on the Julep website or on amazon 🙁 Can you recommend where to buy it? Thanks!

  24. Krista says
    Posted September 24, 2016

    Have you ever used Revlon’s Color Stay Gel Envy collection? So far this is the only polish collection that looks acceptable by the end of day 2 on my nails. So I am curious how it compares to the Essie collection.

  25. Beth says
    Posted January 12, 2017

    Can I buy Julep cuticle softener and remover in any stores or do I have to buy it off the Julip website?

    • Kate says
      Posted January 13, 2017

      I’ve only ever bought it online!

      • alma says
        Posted April 12, 2017

        Julep may be sold in store. I know Butter London is now sold in stores.

  26. alma says
    Posted April 12, 2017

    Sounds like a good idea. I’m trying to budget my beauty care so I’ve been doing some at-home manicures. I’m definitely going to use this as a guide.

  27. Cathy says
    Posted May 10, 2018

    I can’t seem to find the nail pusher you use. The ones I get seem to really strip my nail (very harsh). Can you tell me what the name of the nail pusher is? Maybe I can find it on Amazon.

  28. Tara says
    Posted January 6, 2021

    Hi Kate! I looked through the other comments and didn’t see anyone else ask, but if they did and I missed it, I apologize!
    I’m wanting to try the OPI Bond Aid, however the Amazon link takes me to a professionals page where you have to have a cosmetology license to purchase. ☹️ Do you know of anywhere else this could be purchased for non licensed ladies?! Thanks so much!