A shiny, long-lasting, chip-resistant manicure can still be yours even if you don’t want to use a UV lamp to cure your nails. Just choose a gel-effect polish, like any of the ones featured below. Though the best no-light gel polish for you will depend on your preferred shade (and budget), they all provide a gorgeous, glossy finish that lasts for at least a week, if not more.
Doing your own no-light gel mani or pedi is simple, but to give your color the best chance of lasting beyond a week, start with clean nails that have been wiped with nail polish remover to remove any surface oils, then apply your base coat, color, and top coat, waiting two minutes between coats. You should also reapply your top coat every few days to prevent chipping or peeling. Protect your nails by wearing rubber gloves when cleaning or washing dishes, and try to use an acetone-free nail polish remover, which is less drying to your nails and cuticles than those that contains acetone.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can check out inspired nail art ideas and more trendy nail polish colors, including gorgeous pastels, to experiment with. First, though, scroll down for the best no-light gel polishes, all available on Amazon.
1. The Best No-Light Gel Polish Kit
This kit from OPI contains everything you need for a gel-effect manicure that lasts up to 11 days with proper care. In here, you get a primer (aka base coat), nail polish (in the timeless, seasonless shade Bubble Bath), and a glossy top coat. The brand suggests waiting a minute or two between coats, applying two coats of color, and applying the polish down the center of your nail and then spreading out to the sides for best results. If you don’t love Bubble Bath, you can buy the base and top coat on their own, and choose your own polish from the brand’s Infinite Shine range: you’ll find some bright, festive shades here and some minimalist nudes here, to get you started.
2. The Best Color Range
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is the best-selling gel-effect polish, and no wonder. It comes in a ton of gorgeous colors, and giving yourself a manicure with it is simple as can be. Apply two coats of color (no base coat required, though you can use one if you’d like), wait five minutes, then apply their clear top coat, and you’re looking at eight days of mirror-like shine.
One tip for any no-light gel manicure: Give your polish more time to dry than you usually would, since it’s not being set under a lamp.
3. Best Budget Polish
Revlon’s Gel Envy polishes also only require two steps: Their rich, vibrant colors include a built-in base coat, while the brand’s Diamond Top Coat needs to be bought separately (don’t worry — at $5, it’s just as cheap as the polish). Amazon has an impressive range of these polishes, but they’re sold on different pages: You can find some great purples here, some nudes and metallics here, reds here, and blues and greens here.
4. Best Nourishing Polish
Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann’s Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish features nourishing ingredients like keratin, biotin, green tea extract, and bamboo, and is not only big three-free (meaning it contains no formaldehyde, toluene, or dibutyl phthalate), but also free of seven other chemicals, including formaldehyde resin, camphor, acetone, and more. So basically, this is the rare gel-effect polish that’s actually good for your nails. Get it in over 40 stunning shades.
5. Best No-Light Gel Top Coat
Pick up a bottle of the high-shine essie Gel-Setter Top Coat for maintaining your gel manicure and put one by your desk or bedside table. The clear polish is vegan and made without the big three (formaldehyde, toluene, or dibutyl phthalate), and also doesn’t contain formaldehyde resin or camphor. This can be used on top of any polish to amplify its color and give it extreme shine.