Gel manicure has become a beauty staple. Every salon offers it. So both salon owners and clients need to know the popular professional gel nail polish brands used in salons.
Gel nail polishes are durable. They stay on for weeks without chipping or peeling. They dry very quickly, usually under a UV/LED lamp. And they have an amazing shiny look that is to die for.
|CND Shellac||Top brand on the market for many nail techs||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Gelish||The original LED polish||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|DND||Duo packs with gel and ordinary polishes||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Kiara Sky||Ombre polishes||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Bio Seaweed||Healthy, non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Orly GelFX||Gel with vitamins and a builder gel||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|EZ Flow TruGel||Popular professional polish||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Mia Secret Gelux||Pro polish with a wide array of colors||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Born Pretty||Cat's eye effect||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Essie Gel Couture||Gel-like polish||CHECK ON AMAZON|
|Sally Hansen||Gel-like polish||CHECK ON AMAZON|
Professional gel nail polish brands used in salons
So I’ve asked professional nail technicians and salon owners what brands they prefer working with. And here is the list of the best gel nail polish brands used in salons.
CND Shellac is the most famous professional gel nail polish brand on the market, according to many nail techs.
It’s a popular choice of celebrities for their red carpet appearances.
Shellac is a very high-quality gel nail polish that has a non-toxic formula. So it won’t do any harm to your nails, according to CND.
Shellac doesn’t need nail roughening for better adhesion.
You only have to use CND FreshScrub to prepare the nail plate.
Then you use the most common 3-step gel nail polish application process.
You start with the base coat, add two color polish layers, and finish your manicure off with the top coat.
Shellac requires curing each coat with a UV lamp. Preferably the one that CND manufactures for Shellac.
The top coat is sticky after the curing, so you have to wipe it with 99% Isopropyl Alcohol.
And that’s the final stage of Shellac manicure.
Shellac removal process is pretty easy.
You just soak Shellac off with an acetone-based remover.
No need for e-file use like you have to do with acrylic nails. So there is no damage to the nail plate.
CND also sells Vinylux long-wear polishes.
Vinylux is a cross between a gel and an ordinary polish.
It doesn’t need a lamp and only requires a color coat and a top coat.
Gelish was one of the first soak-off professional gel nail polish brands on the market, and the first one to come with a brush.
This product line was developed by the two-time International Champion in acrylic nails Danny Haile.
Haile wanted to create a brush-on gel polish that would last up to 21 days without chipping or peeling.
Pretty much like CND Shellac, Gelish polish uses a 3-step application process.
You need to dehydrate the nail plate with the Gelish pH Bond, apply the base coat, the color polish and the shiny top coat.
Gelish requires curing with an LED lamp.
But it can also be cured in a UV lamp. It will just take a bit more time.
In fact, Gelish was the first LED curable gel polish ever released.
There are over 200 colors in the Gelish gel polish line.
DND professional gel nail polish brand was launched in 2011 by a team of people with a background in nail art.
Their products are made in Los Angeles, California.
They sell their gel nail polishes as Duo packs that contain a gel polish and an ordinary nail polish of exactly the same color.
DND gel polish from the DND Duo pack requires the same 3 step application and soak-off removal process as most other gel polishes.
You need to apply a base, a color coat, and a top coat, curing every layer with an LED or UV lamp.
Both kinds of lamps are fine to use with DND gel polishes.
DND base coat and top coat are not included in the Duo sets. You can buy them separately.
They also come in a duo package that consists of the base and the top coat bottles.
DND is a durable gel polish. It stays on very well for about 2-3 weeks without chipping or peeling.
However, if you need to apply your polish quickly, and don’t want to wear it for too long then choose the ordinary polish from the same DND Duo pack and use it without hassle.
So it’s ideal for both salon nail techs and home users.
Kiara Sky has a really cute story behind its title: it’s the name of the owner’s little daughter.
The polishes are easy to apply without bubbles and don’t shrink during the curing process if applied right.
Then this polish stays on your nails for at least two weeks.
Kiara Sky polishes can be applied in two steps: color coat and top coat only.
That means Kiara Sky gel polish manicure doesn’t require a base coat.
Unless you are applying it to acrylic nails, you can coat your natural nails with the gel polish without a base layer underneath.
You can either cure each coat with an LED lamp for 30 seconds or use a UV lamp for a couple of minutes.
You can remove Kiara Sky gel polish by soaking it off with an acetone-based remover.
One of the gel polish lines available from Kiara Sky is Ombre.
It’s a mood change polish that transforms the color coat on your nails based on your body temperature or the temperature of the objects you are holding in your hands.
For example, a cup of hot coffee or an ice cream cone produce different colors of the same polish.
So a lavender hue can turn into a foam green one on your nails.
Usually only part of the nail changes color, creating a lovely ombre pattern look.
Kiara Sky also manufactures the super-popular nail dipping powder system.
All Kiara Sky products are made in the USA and are cruelty-free. The company never tests them on animals.
Bio Seaweed Gel
Bio Seaweed is a family-owned business that manufactures healthy, non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free gel nail polishes used in salons.
Their nail products are made in the USA and are big-5 free.
That means they contain no Formaldehyde, Toluene, DBP, BHA, or Camphor.
The word “Seaweed” in the brand’s name doesn’t mean the polishes are made of seaweed.
There is no seaweed in any of their products.
It’s rather used to emphasize the notion of healthier polishes.
Bio Seaweed professional gel nail polish is water-based.
It doesn’t damage or dehydrate your nails, according to the manufacturer, but instead enriches them with minerals and vitamins to make them stronger.
Still, it can stay on the nails for quite a long time. The manufacturer promises 14 days.
You don’t need to roughen your nails for better adhesion before applying this polish.
And you can remove it just by soaking it off with acetone.
Like many other gel products, Bio Seaweed’s 3STEP gel line requires a 3-step application process: base coat, color coat, top coat.
The top coat doesn’t leave a sticky layer. So you don’t need to wipe it, which is a plus.
No need to perform another time-consuming stage of the manicure process for you or your clients.
The base and the top coat are also compatible with gel polishes made by other brands.
But Bio Seaweed’s most interesting and unique invention is their UNITY line.
Here’s the catch:
It’s an all in one polish that has the base, color, top, and nail strengthener in one bottle.
UNITY gel polish also doesn’t need any wiping with Isopropyl Alcohol after application, because it doesn’t leave a sticky layer.
And it cures to the touch in direct sunlight, without a lamp.
Bio Seaweed’s selection of color polishes in both of their lines has 250+ shades to choose from.
Orly is a cruelty-free beauty company that manufactures a special vitamin-infused gel nail polish.
Orly is one of the leading professional gel nail polish brands used in salons.
Orly GelFX has vitamins A, E, B5 in the formula. So the manufacturer promises that this gel nail polish protects and strengthens your nails.
You apply it in the 3 usual steps: base-color-top, curing each layer in an LED or UV lamp.
But you need to use the GelFX primer before putting on the base and you’ll have to wipe the sticky layer off after you add the top coat.
Part of this nail polish line is the Orly GelFX Builder in a Bottle.
It’s a soak-off sculpting gel for nail extensions that is much easier to use than nail dipping systems or builder gels that come in jars.
Builder in a Bottle is thick and it’s easy to control its application.
You brush it onto forms like a polish.
And then you can apply a color polish over it.
Builder in a Bottle is UV/LED curable.
These extensions can be removed by simply soaking them off.
You won’t need a nail drill as you do with acrylics.
And GelFX doesn’t damage your nails, according to Orly, so it won’t make your natural nails thinner.
EZ Flow TruGel
EZ Flow manufactures its products for professional nail artists.
It’s one of the most popular professional gel nail polish brands used in salons among nail techs.
Their TruGel is a standard professional brush-on gel nail polish that you apply over a base coat and finish of with a top coat.
You need to cure all these layers in a UV/LED lamp.
The consistency of the TrueGel nail polish is very thin and runny.
So you may need to apply it in thin layers.
But it stays on pretty well.
You can soak this polish off with an acetone remover in about 10 minutes.
Mia Secret Gelux
Mia Secret is an American company founded in 2006. It manufactures professional products for the nail, spa and eyelash extensions industry.
Mia Secret’s Gelux is a soak-off gel nail polish that has a durable formula.
It requires UV or LED curing.
You can apply it to natural nails or nail extensions.
If applied correctly it can last for 2-3 weeks.
The application process takes more than 3 steps though.
Before you apply the base coat you need to wipe the nail plate with a cleanser, then apply a primer and let it dry.
Then you need to put on the color coat and the top coat and wipe the sticky layer off.
With a longer and harder application process, this gel polish is more suitable for salon use than home use.
Born Pretty is a Chinese manufacturer of gel nail polishes, nail stamping pads, and other products for nail design.
Their most interesting product is a line of magnetic cat’s eye gel nail polishes.
Cat’s eye chameleon polishes require a slightly longer application process, but they look really vibrant and cool.
To cut things short, you need to apply the base coat, a layer of black gel polish, then a layer of magnetic polish.
And before you cure the magnetic layer you should hold a special magnetic stick over your nails for 10-15 seconds, and only then cure this layer immediately.
After that apply the Born Pretty no wipe top coat.
Born Pretty polishes easy to use. Very beginner and home user-friendly.
Essie Gel Couture
Essie was founded in 1981 by Essie Weingarten.
In 2016 the company introduced the Gel Couture line.
Essie Gel Couture is not a traditional gel polish that you have to apply in 3 steps with a base coat and a top coat, along with curing all this stuff in an LED or UV lamp.
It’s a long-wear nail polish that can last up to 14 days and has the shine of a gel.
But it only requires a 2-step application.
Just the Essie color coat and the Essie Gel Couture top coat.
You don’t need to apply a base coat at all.
The polish dries without a lamp.
So this polish has a gel-like formula. However, it air-dries like an ordinary polish, only quicker.
I’d say, it’s similar to CND Vinylux.
Essie Gel Couture is easy to use both in a salon and at home.
It’s not as durable as a traditional gel nail polish.
And it often chips before the promised 14 days run out.
But it has a gel-like look and, as Essie promises, doesn’t carry the risks of nail plate damage that gel nail polishes may cause.
You can use acetone to remove Essie Gel Couture, but you don’t have to soak it off or scrub it.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel
Sally Hansen was founded in 1946 with the Hard As Nails polish line, which is still popular today.
The company also manufactures other beauty products, like hair removal strips, etc.
Now Sally Hansen belongs to Coty.
The company never tests its products on animals.
Their polishes are also free of Formaldehyde, DBP, and Toluene.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is a lot like Essie Gel Couture.
It’s shinier and more resistant to chips than regular polish.
You just have to apply two coats of the color polish and one coat of the top coat, no base coat needed.
You won’t need an LED or UV lamp to dry the Miracle Gel either.
You may need to buff your nails a bit before the application process to prevent the polish from peeling.
And the removal process doesn’t require any soaking off or scrubbing.
So it’s another gel-like salon nail polish that is easy to use at home.
Another bonus is that Sally Hansen has a large range of colors, so you can pick the perfect one.
How to select professional gel nail polish brands used in salons
Gel nail polish brands used in salons manufacture only very high-quality polishes.
These polishes have a very nice gloss and can last up to 2-3 weeks without chipping or peeling.
Most gel nail polishes require a 3-step application process with the base coat, color coat, and top coat layers.
There are exceptions that use a 2-step or even 1-step application, but they are not common.
All these layers must be cured in a special UV or LED lamp.
The curing takes just a couple of minutes, so there’s no need to wait for your nails to dry like you have to do when you use ordinary nail polish.
You instantly get perfect nails without any smudging.
Some polishes need additional preparation of the nail plate with a special primer.
And there are gel polishes that leave a sticky layer after the top coat cures and require wiping with 99% Isopropyl Alcohol.
You can apply gel polish to natural nails without any risk of nail plate damage.
You won’t need to file it off with an e-file.
It’s enough to soak it off with an acetone-based remover.
You can also apply gel nail polishes to artificial nails or nail extensions.
There is a great choice of gel nail polish brands used in salons on the market.
You can buy vegan, cruelty-free, and non-damaging polishes.
And if you want to create interesting effects on your nails get polishes that change colors when your body temperature changes.
Or use a special magnet and a magnetic polish to create a cat’s eye effect.
To sum it up, there is a gel nail polish for everyone. Go ahead and make your choice armed with all the information above!