Essence – Gel Nails at Home review

Hey guys, today I have something quite new on the blog.

Gel nails are usually a professionally-done manicure requiring a UV or LED light and special nail products to enable a mani that can last up to 2 weeks. It usually requires soaking in acetone for removal as well, which is harsh on your skin and nails. Professional gel nails can also get quite pricey too.

I guess that’s why recently, a lot of brands have released their own DIY gel nail kits for the simpleton like me to give it a go at home. I’ve never had a gel manicure done before so I’m not quite sure what to do or what to expect, but I followed Essence’s instructions as closely as I could and had a few thoughts on the product.

Here’s the promotional how-to video made by Essence, except I have the mini version of the LED lamp*. The instructions given to me with my review documents were a little confusing so I followed the steps in the video instead. In simple words:

  1. Prep your nails by shaping them and pushing back your cuticles.
  2. Swipe the cleanser over your nails to clean the surface.
  3. Apply primer to your clean nails (it should dry quickly).
  4. Apply a thick and even coat of peel-off gel base to your nail, making sure you wipe off any that comes into contact with your skin. Remember to wrap your free-edge.
  5. Cure under the LED lamp for 10 seconds. (I did one nail at a time for this step, i.e. first nail, base coat and lamp. Second nail, base coat and lamp. Etc).
  6. Wipe off any excess with more cleanser.
  7. Apply your choice of any Essence colour (any polish would work). Let it dry completely.
  8. Apply a thick and even coat of the clear gel top coat, remembering to wrap your free edge, and cure under the lamp again.
  9. Wipe off any excess with cleanser.
  10. Manicure is complete!

Ok, so it sounds pretty lengthy, but here are the results I got. Colour used: Essence Hello Marshmallow!*

ImageI must confess, this is a really finicky process, especially for someone so used to easy polish application. The fact that I had to keep going back and forth between lamp and polish and the rules and procedures kinda annoyed me lol, so I guess gel polish isn’t something for me. It took me about 3 goes to get a halfway decent result – this picture is my third attempt, and I’m not sure if it’s user error or the product’s fault that gives me crazy thick layers of polish that therefore make it easier to peel off before you want it to. The instructions do ask for a thick coat… I tried using thin coats however and this caused more difficulty in removal and the cleanser tended to wipe off the top coat altogether.

The top coat also had a yellowish tint that affected the colour of the polish underneath. It also tended to shrink under the LED light, pulling away from the edges of the nail in uneven ridges. I doubt this is user error as I am normally able to evenly apply top coat without an issue.


This was the result of the top coat shrinking and leaving bits uncovered. You can also see a bit of the yellowish tinge of it in this photo. Not happy!

Also no matter how much cleanser is used, the final products always remains a little sticky.

One request from my instagram followers was a wear test to see if this manicure lasted its claimed 10 days. Unfortunately on the same day I applied it…


This was after one shower. The polish lifted off my ring and pinky so I had to peel the whole thing off. The forefinger is definitely seeing some tip wear.

A plus side is that it does peel off quite easily (albeit before I wanted it to), forgoing the need for acetone soaking like in professional gel manicures.

But does it last longer than a normal manicure? No, not for me. I was quite disappointed that it didn’t even make it through to the next day and this really discourages me from trying it again. However, other people who have used this product seem to have achieved mixed results (see Cherry Colors, Love Sweet As, AnnaBeautyBox) so I guess it’s up to you guys whether you want to take the risk or not.

Let me know what you guys think!

For more information on where to purchase this brand, visit my ‘where to buy‘ tab.

Til next time! x

Products provided for review


15 thoughts on “Essence – Gel Nails at Home review

  1. I love this post! I just did a review on the babylips Original and Dr Rescue line & also did a MUA lipstick review! It would mean alot if you could check it out or maybe follow me. You have a really lovely blog! xx Hatice


  2. I decided to give the starter set a go – it was only $18 Australian as I already own a lamp. It went on with no trouble and seems to be wearing okay. It doesn’t seem as hard as regular gel nails. You have to really scrub the cleanser to remove the sticky outer layer after curing the base and topcoats. I must have wrapped okay because I didn’t get shrinkage. It was fun, but I cannot see the manicure lasting more than a couple of days – it’s pretty delicate for “gel” nails!!!
    I was very careful applying it – use thinner coats than you’d think! The top coat is so smooth, MUCH smoother than Luminail topcaot, which I’ve had a nightmare applying… Thanks for your interesting and unbias review.


  3. Pingback: DIY Gel Nails Tutorial | Ysadora Lacquers

  4. The shrinkage happens because the nail polish layer is not dry yet. It takes anywhere from 2-6 hours for each layer of nailpolish to dry completely.
    It’s normal for gels to leave a sticky resedue on nails after they have cured. You have to wipe your nails with a lint free pad not just dab the pad lightly on the nail.
    The mini LED lamps are not as efficient. For better resaults cure each nail for about 30 seconds and wrap aluminium around the lamp.


  5. I love love, your review! Also the color you picked up is wonderful! I stopped wearing peel off base coats (gelish) and instead went to use the gelish regular base + top coat. The top coats work well with the other gelish systems, which is a plus. Also the cleansers and primers. Cost effective, I call it.


  6. You know, I actually have no idea what you’re talking about. For me, it did not remain sticky. I got it thick and shiny and smooth, no stickiness after I applied the final cleanser. And I did the shower test, scrubbed my thick hair twice, really hard, and I came out with the exact same nails with no wear at all. So this review really baffles me. Especially because it makes everyone turn away from the product, but I’m glad I went with my gut feeling and bought it to try out myself. Definitely beats having to pay a fortune to regularly get them done and the salon and even beats regular nail polish. So I’m pretty happy!


  7. I have a problem with the shrinkage as well and sometimes I also get some holes in the top coat and the thing about waiting for your nail polish to dry completely doesn’t help either. I’ve tried doing my nails without top coat and the day after I’d apply this top coat and it shrank again :/


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