REVIEW| Essie Gel-Setter Kit

REVIEW| Essie Gel-Setter Kit

The day has come upon us all where I have officially decided to take my manicure into my own hands (literally and no pun intended). I have caved and purchased the Essie Gel-Setter Ultimate Wear and Shine Color Kit. Let us proceed. 

Up until recently, I have worn a gel polish every single day for the past year and a half, without any time in between manicures. That has to be pretty awful for the health of my nails (and my wallet) so I wanted to give myself my own manicure, but I wanted the look and wearability of a gel manicure but at the comfort of my own home and without the cost. I was spending approximately $84 a month (just a manicure and a tip for the technician; this doesn't include my eyebrow waxing+tip), which translates to approximately $1,344 for the year and a half that I wore a gel manicure. What. The. F#!%&!??!?!?! Up until this very moment, I had never done the math on this and it infuriates me to say the least. 

Anyway, I went ahead and purchased this kit for $15.00 (free shipping to Prime members) on Amazon.  I did a few trials before conducting this review mainly because I forgot (woopsies) but also, I wanted to try different nail polishes with the top coat to see how it wore. Here are some things I found: 

  • The polish I picked was very streaky and was the first one I tried with the top coat. "Ballet Slipeprs" by Essie (which came in the kit) is very opaque and hard to get an even coat. I kept it on despite how weird it looked and it lasted less than a whole week before it started chipping and peeling off in one layer rather than small chips here and there.
  • The next polish I tried was a Sally Hansen quick dry color. It was a metallic shade and although I wasn't thrilled about the color, the application was very good and it lasted a week, which was longer than the Essie polish I tried the first round. 
  • Following the Sally Hansen, I tried another Essie polish, my favorite...Sugar Daddy. It is the perfect shade of light pink (I think this is the color you get when you get the traditional French manicure at the nail salon--if it isn't, it's a pretty close runner up and very beautiful) and is not too sheer but builds up in opacity with a second or even a third coat (I normally do three coats). This shade wore the best, lasting almost a week and a half! Crazy! 

$15 and an hour of my own time at home got me three manicures (and counting)! I just saved $69 by not going to the nail salon. 


  • The first time I tried the polish and top coat, I filed and shaped my nails per usual, but I did notice that I did not do the one step the salons do when I have gotten a gel manicure: I did not buff my nails prior to putting the first coat of polish on. This could have been the death of my first manicure using this kit but I still think the opacity of that polish had something to do with it. 
  • I wore the polish as if it were actually a gel polish (this does not claim to be a gel polish--it claims to offer the shine and look of a gel polish. Some reviews were negative because other consumers expected to get what an actual gel manicure offers with this product and were disappointed when it didn't live up to it). I washed dishes, showered, fought crime...the usual.
  • The 2nd manicure, I made sure my nails were completely dry and buffed--almost a rough texture so that the polish was better able to stick to my nails. Same conditions--fighting crime, washing dishes...
  • I never used a base coat with any of the polishes. A lot of reviews I found suggested to using one (even videos and tutorials I found on YouTube) but I didn't have one I wanted to use with this experiment so I didn't try it this time around.

The Verdict

Two thumbs up. I highly recommend this product. The shade "Ballet Slippers" isn't my favorite for a few reasons: the level of opacity is too much, streakiness makes it hard to get an even coat, and the color is too pale for me.  In my opinion, it is not necessary to only use Essie polishes with the top coat, but a base coat may very well be a way to prolong the life of the manicure. Also making sure that your nails are completely dry and buffed prior to applying anything is a huge must in order to ensure the polish sticks to your nails. For someone who is looking for a really inexpensive manicure you can get at home that looks great towards the end of week one, going into week two with little to no chips or peels, this is definitely the product for you! I will definitely be repurchasing, and next time with a great base coat.