No light gel nail polish, also known as the gel nail polish without UV light, is a very convenient invention. Gel-effect nail polish is a healthy alternative to gel nail polish. This gel-like nail polish is just like an ordinary polish because you don’t need to use a UV/LED light to cure it. It can simply be air-dried. And when it’s exposed to the natural UV rays from the sun it hardens even more. You don’t need a lengthy soaking off or filing process to remove it either.
So it’s very easy to use and is less damaging to the nails. No primers or nail buffing necessary. But this polish stays on longer than an ordinary polish, for a week or more, almost like a gel polish. No light gel polishes are also called long wear nail polish systems. So here are the best ones:
|Vinylux||Top pick, salon-grade, 2-Step, long-lasting, non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free, lots of beautiful colors.||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Sally Hansen||2-step, long-lasting, salon-grade, there is also a matte top coat (sold separately).||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Essie||2-Step, long-lasting, salon-grade.||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Bio Seaweed Gel||Real gel nail polish, unique formula that cures under direct sunlight or under the lamp, all in one, 1-step, non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free.||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|OPI||3-Step, the first step is the primer, long-lasting.||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Eternal||2-Step, sold in 3 polish + top coat sets, non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free.||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Deborah Lippman||Polish by a celebrity nail tech, trendy colors, non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free, 1-step.||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Revlon||2-Step, but can be used without the top coat, budget-friendly, not a lot of colors.||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|CoverGirl||1-Step, lasts up to 1 week, certified as cruelty-free.||CHECK ON AMAZON|
Best gel-like nail polish brands
CND Vinylux Top Coat
CND Vinylux is my top pick and the polish I love wearing the most because of its gorgeous colors, ease of use, and durability.
Vinylux is a gel-effect nail polish that requires no lamp.
It’s manufactured by CND, the maker of the famous Shellac, one of the first gel nail polishes on the market.
So it’s Shellac’s little sister polish.
It was released later than Shellac and has the same color names as Shellac.
For example, red is Wildfire, black is Blackpool, etc.
The colors are absolutely identical too.
So you can use Vinylux for quick touch-ups of your Shellac manicure when it chips or grows out with time.
You can also substitute Shellac for Vinylux if you don’t have access to a lamp or just need to perform a quick manicure.
CND has named Vinylux a “weekly polish”.
It can stay on your nails for up to a week if you apply it right.
Vinylux is a 2-step polish.
You don’t need a basecoat for it.
There’s also no need to buff the nail plate or use any primers.
Just apply 2 thin layers of your favorite Vinylux color to the natural nail.
The polish adheres to the nail plate very well.
And the second step is the application of the special Vinylux top coat.
This top coat protects your manicure from chipping or peeling. And it has a special formula so that it doesn’t yellow.
You can use the Vinylux top coat with other polishes too.
Vinylux no light gel nail polish air dries a lot quicker than ordinary nail polishes.
But don’t try to cure it with a lamp, this won’t work.
And when Vinylux is covered with its special top coat it shines like a gel polish.
It’s a great replacement for a salon gel manicure because it’s a professional-grade polish that is super-easy to use at home.
Just like Shellac, Vinylux is a healthy, non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free nail polish.
It won’t damage your nails, according to the manufacturer.
Vinylux is also a great alternative to gel polishes for those who are allergic to gels.
It’s pretty much hypoallergenic because it contains almost no acrylates that are the main cause of an allergy to gel nail polishes (but please consult your doctor about your allergies).
Vinylux is very easy to remove. You don’t need to soak it off for a long time, just remove it with a nail polish remover.
It’s even easy to remove with a non-acetone based remover.
However, the longer you wear Vinylux the more it hardens with time.
Still, even if it’s hardened you don’t need to soak it off with foil or anything like that.
Just hold the cotton ball with the remover liquid for a minute against the nail and the polish will come off easily.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat
Sally Hansen is one of the nail industry’s oldest and most popular brands.
It was founded back in 1946 and now it belongs to Coty.
The company’s original nail polish line is named Hard As Nails. It’s still one of the most popular nail polishes on the market.
In addition to that, Sally Hansen manufactures all kinds of nail care and beauty products.
Including one of the best cuticle remover liquids, Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover. My favorite cuticle remover, to be honest!
Sally Hansen’s most popular product today is its gel-like polish named Sally Hansen Miracle Gel.
It’s shiny, durable, resistant to chips. You can wear it for more than a week and it will still look as new.
Miracle gel is also non-toxic, vegan, and not tested on animals.
It’s another gel nail polish without UV light that air dries in a few minutes.
Don’t even try to use a lamp, the polish will bubble up or shrink.
Just like Vinylux, Miracle Gel is a 2-step polish.
You need to apply two coats of the color polish, followed by one coat of the Miracle Gel top coat.
No base coat needed.
A huge plus is that Sally Hansen offers both a shiny and a matte top coat in its Miracle Gel line.
Few gel-like polishes brands sell a special matte top coat.
And Sally Hansen has a wide array of trendy colors for you to pick from.
It’s a very convenient replacement for a salon manicure.
One downside of this polish is that it’s pretty thin and tends to run into the cuticles.
Another downside is that you need to buff your nails lightly before applying it, which is not necessary when you use Vinylux.
Essie Gel Couture
Essie is a brand that’s popular among nail professionals, celebrities, and nail polish lovers all over the world.
It’s often used in salons.
The brand was established in 1981, named after its founder, Essie Weingarten.
Essie’s no light gel polish is sold under the name Gel Couture. This line was launched in 2016.
Again, there’s no need to apply it in 3 steps, like you have to do with UV gel nail polish.
Essie Gel Couture’s application process consists of 2 steps.
You only need to apply the Essie Gel Couture color coat and the Gel Couture top coat.
So there is no base coat. The polish adheres to the nail plate without it and your manicure can last for a week or even more.
No lamp necessary. Simply let it air dry.
Gel Couture top coat also makes the polish shine like a gel nail polish.
The removal process is as easy as when you are using any regular polish.
Use a nail polish remover with or without acetone. No need to scrub or soak the polish off.
This polish is also pretty gentle on the nail plate.
The only downside of it is that it can become thicker with time. But that happens to a lot of nail polishes. Just use a bit of nail polish thinner or acetone to make runnier.
Bio Seaweed Unity
Bio Seaweed is a gel nail polish manufacturer that is known for making safe and non-toxic gel nail polishes.
Their polishes are not made of seaweed. Nor do they contain any seaweed extracts or anything like that.
However, these polishes are non-toxic, 5-free, vegan, and cruelty-free.
The manufacturer markets them as healthy gel nail polishes.
So the Seaweed part of the name only indicates the non-toxic and healthy nature of the brand’s products.
Unity is Bio Seaweed’s all in one no light gel nail polish line.
It’s a unique product, different from all other polishes on this list because it’s not a gel-like polish, but a true gel nail polish.
You can cure it with a UV/LED lamp if you want. But it’s also specially formulated for getting cured without any lamp at all.
Bio Seaweed Unity cures under direct sunlight. The company has named this feature SolarCure.
It means that Unity polish hardens both under a UV lamp and under the natural UV rays from the sun.
You just need to apply it indoors and away from direct sunlight or it would get cured prematurely.
After you apply it you can just place your hands under the direct sunlight for about 2 minutes to cure the polish.
Curing times may vary depending on the strength of the light.
No sun? Just cure it under the lamp!
All in one means that the Unity polish contains the color polish, the base coat, and the top coat in one bottle.
No need to buy all these products separately.
The manufacturer recommends
applying 2 coats of this polish.
Another plus is that this gel nail polish with top coat inside doesn’t leave a sticky layer on the nails (like many other real gel nail polish top coats do).
So you don’t have to wipe your nails at the end of your manicure.
Bio Seaweed Unity has all the best features of gel nail polishes. It’s very shiny and long-lasting.
But the downside of this polish is that you need to lightly buff your nails before use. However, there’s no need to use a dehydrator or a primer with it.
OPI Infinite Shine
OPI Infinite Shine Primer And Gloss
OPI is a super-famous brand of nail products.
It’s an American manufacturer of nail polishes from California that was founded in 1981, in the same year as Essie.
OPI started out as a dental products company.
Later the company was sold and the new owner began creating acrylic nail products.
OPI actually stands for Odontorium Products Inc.
The company belongs to Coty, just like Sally Hansen.
Today OPI’s top products are regular nail polishes.
I’m pretty sure that every nail polish lover has a bottle or two of OPI nail lacquer at home.
While OPI GelColor gel nail polishes are sometimes sold to licensed professional nail techs only, their Infinite Shine gel-effect nail polish is freely available to everyone.
The manufacturer has announced that they have improved Infinite Shine’s formula with a special ProStay technology that lets it last for one day more — for up to 11 days.
Unlike many other 1-step or 2-step gel-like polishes, OPI Infinite Shine is a 3-step system.
This can be a downside if you want a quick manicure.
Infinite Shine’s 3 steps consist of the application of the Primer, Long-Wear Lacquer, and Gloss. No base coat or lamp necessary.
The Gloss is actually a glossy top coat.
This is the only no light gel polish on this list that requires a primer. Usually, only real gel polishes need a primer.
The Gloss is a required step. Because the reaction of the Gloss with the lacquer layer under the natural, ambient light is what makes this polish form a strong and durable coating on your nails.
The downside of this top coat is that it’s a bit too thick and difficult to apply.
Eternal Cosmetics is another brand that’s been on the market for decades.
It was founded in 1978 in the USA.
The company caters to salons and beauty stores and manufactures nail polishes and eyeliners.
Eternal no light gel nail polish is made in the USA and is 12-free.
So it doesn’t contain any of the most toxic chemicals and is vegan and cruelty-free.
It’s another 2 step system on this list that consists of gel-like color polish and a durable top coat.
Eternal Gel is sold in convenient 3-polish sets that come with one bottle of top coat.
The manufacturer promises it will last for over a week, for up to 10 days.
The polish doesn’t need a lamp and dries on its own pretty quickly.
Deborah Lippman Gel Lab
Deborah Lippman is a brand of beauty products founded in 1999 by a celebrity nail technician who has worked with Kim Kardashian, Scarlett Johansson, Lady Gaga, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Julia Roberts.
Deborah Lippman has even won the Allure Best of Beauty Awards 2018 for Best Nail Polish Formula for her gel-like nail polish line.
The company also manufactures nail treatment products and lipsticks.
The polish colors are named after pop songs.
And a nice feature of this line of polishes is that the colors are very pretty and trendy.
Deborah Lippman products are vegan, not tested on animals, and are 7-free (non-toxic).
Just like all the other products on this list, this is a no light gel-effect nail polish that is easy to apply, cure, and remove.
So Deborah promises that her polishes are a much healthier alternative to gel nail products.
They air-dry very fast, look really shiny, and last for over a week.
Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy
Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Diamond Top Coat
Revlon is one of the oldest and most famous beauty brands in the world.
Founded in New York City in 1932, Revlon has been manufacturing all kinds of makeup, hair, and self-care products.
But their first-ever product was in fact a nail polish!
Another interesting fact is that Revlon is currently the owner of the CND brand of nail polishes.
CND is one of the nail industry’s leaders and the maker of Shellac and my top pick, Vinylux.
Revlon also owns Elizabeth Arden.
Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy is another 2-step gel-effect polish on this list that comes with the base coat and the color coat mixed in one bottle.
You just need to top the color polish off with the ColorStay Gel Envy Diamond Top Coat and your manicure is done. The lamp is not needed.
Revlon promises that the Diamond Top Coat makes your manicure chip-resistant and long-lasting.
It also adds shine to your nails.
A big plus is that you can use the color polish even without the top coat and still get great results. This makes this polish very budget-friendly.
Another plus of this nail polish is that it comes with a wide and convenient brush. It allows you to coat your nails smoothly and with no bubbles.
One downside of this polish is that it only comes in 15 colors. Not a lot to choose from. But they are very pretty.
CoverGirl XL Nail Gel
CoverGirl is a popular American brand of beauty products founded in 1961 in Maryland.
It’s another beauty brand that has been acquired by Coty.
Many celebrities, such as Cybill Shepherd, Christie Brinkley, Drew Barrymore, Zendaya, Taylor Swift, have represented the brand as its “cover girls”.
The company mainly manufactures makeup and nail polishes.
All their products are cruelty-free and even have a Leaping Bunny certificate from Cruelty Free International.
CoverGirl XL Nail Gel is the company’s gel-effect nail polish that air dries without a lamp.
CoverGirl promises that this polish will last for up to 7 days. Not as much as what some of the other brands on this list promise, but still more than what regular polishes offer.
XL Nail Gel doesn’t have a special top coat and works on its own.
It still offers a beautiful shine even without a top coat.
A downside of this polish is that it may not be as long-lasting as other gel-like polishes. In addition to that, the CoverGirl XL Nail Gel line has a very limited number of colors. Not much to choose from.
What is a no light gel polish?
Gel nail polish brands also manufacture no light gel polishes with a gel-like effect.
That means these polishes stay on longer than non gel-like polishes, for up to one week.
They don’t stay on your nails for as long as the real UV/LED gel nail polishes though, which can last up to 2-3 weeks. But gel-effect polishes are easier to use.
There’s no need to cure them with a UV/LED lamp.
They just simply air dry. Though it takes longer than drying regular gel polishes with a lamp.
By the way, no light gel nail polish is always sold in transparent bottles, where you can see the color through the glass.
While gel nail polishes are always sold in opaque bottles so that no UV light gets through and thickens the polish.
Gel-like polishes can be used instead of gel nail polishes if you are allergic to gel polish components, don’t have access to a lamp, need quick touch-ups for your gel manicure, or prefer an easier removal process.
They don’t require such a lengthy process of soaking off with an acetone-based remover as gel nail polishes.
However, they may be a bit more difficult to remove than ordinary polishes because gel-like polishes often harden with time because of the exposure to the natural UV light.
What are the advantages of the gel-effect nail polish?
These polishes are very easy to use. You just paint them on and let them dry, and that’s all.
You don’t need any special equipment or tools for using them.
No lamp is necessary, and there’s no need to use a nail drill to take them off
They are much easier to remove.
No light gel polishes are often more budget-friendly than gel nail polishes.
And you don’t need to buy additional products to use with them, such as primers.
However, you may want to use a nail cleanser or dehydrator to prepare the nail plate better. But it’s absolutely optional.
And they are more gentle on the nails as they require no buffing of the nail plate before application.
How to apply and cure gel nail polish without UV light?
You can apply this kind of nail polish just like any regular nail polish.
You only need to paint the color polish on in 1 or 2 layers, let it air dry, and apply the top coat.
Again, no need to cure this polish or the top coat in the lamp. Just let it air dry.
How to remove no light gel nail polish?
All these polishes are very easy to remove with a simple acetone-based nail polish remover.
Unlike working with acrylic nails, you don’t need to use a nail drill with no light gel polish.
You don’t need to soak off this gel-like nail polish for a long time either.
If the polish has hardened too much then just hold the cotton ball with the remover against the nail plate for a bit more time.
I hope that this guide is helpful and you’ll be able to use any gel-effect nail polish with confidence. And if you can’t make a choice then just get Vinylux!