Purchased by Me
I have been excitedly awaiting the Essie Gel since first learning of the pending release a few months ago. I was a little surprised Essie decided to make their gel line a pro product. Especially since many of the colors are based on their regular nail polish (rnp) colors that are available to the general public through retail stores. They are also much more expensive than their competitors, which also surprised me. I expected a price point that would be competitive with OPI. But that didn't stop me from getting a few to test out and compare to the rnp colors.
Essie Gel is advertised in industry magazines as LED cure and is supposed to have added nutrients to support healthy nails. I don't know about the added nutrients, but the LED cure is questionable. I tested it in my two LED lamps (Sensationail and Salon Edge). It did not fully cure in either lamp. A friend tested it in her Red Carpet Manicure LED lamp. It did not cure fully in her lamp either. In all three lamps, the color completely wiped off in spots before top coating. I usually don't wipe the color coat before top coating, but I noticed a lot of color transfer on the top coat brush, which prompted me to test it. Essie does make an LED lamp for their gel line, so it is completely possible that the formula requires a different frequency than most brands. But for those of us who cross brands on a regular basis, Essie is a dud unless you want to purchase their lamp. (Note: I have not tested their lamp...I only assume it cures their gel.)
With that said, it did cure in my UV lamp. However, there was a bit more color transfer than I am used to seeing with other brands after 2 minutes. I ended up curing each layer for 3 minutes.
Application was tricky as well. The brush in the gel line is the same brush they use in their regular polish bottles - a thin, round brush. I usually like the thinner brushes, but I found this one difficult to work with. Though I admit I may have just been annoyed by the LED issue. Aside from the brush, coverage is ok. There is a bit of shrink back on the first layer, but it seemed to correct itself with the 2nd and 3rd coats.
So, onto the swatches. I have two colors to show you. First up, Break a Sweat. This is a dark, shimmery purple based off the popular rnp color, Sexy Divide.
So, is Essie Gel Break a Sweat the same color as Sexy Divide? Nope. As you can see, it's similar but not exact. The gel version is lighter. This is actually the one thing I think Essie did well with their gel release. They marketed it as "based on" or "similar to" the original colors and gave them new names. Smart.
The second color I tested is Suggestive and Sultry. It's a pretty light blue with a barely there shimmer. This one is based off the popular Bikini So Teeny.
So, does this one match the rnp color? Nope. It's close, but slightly darker and muted compared to Bikini So Teeny. Again, excuse my RNP application.
So, there you have it. While the colors are nice, Essie failed to impress me. I wanted to love the Essie Gel. Especially after being so excited after seeing the announcement. With the price point at around $17-$18 each, I expected it to blow my socks off. Instead, I am grossly disappointed. I won't be buying any more of their gel line.
Check back latter in the week for a few Cuccio and LeChat swatches. :)