There’s a lot to love about gel nail polishes, those UV- and LED-curing polishes that contain acrylic oligomers: They’re ultra-shiny, require none of that waiting around dry time that comes with their traditional counterparts, and are super long-lasting (up to two weeks or longer, if you can handle the look of the grow-out phase). But they also come with a bit of a bad reputation for ruining nails and they can be difficult to remove at home. That came in large part thanks to the first generation of gel formulas that were incredibly hard on nails—but we’re here to tell you that’s no longer the case.
Now, not only do we have the best gel polishes to choose from—with nourishing ingredients built right in, streamlined formulas, and better applicators—but also gel hybrid polishes that give you the high shine and longer wear but don’t require the UV light to cure or soaking to remove thanks to special gel-like polymers and resins that give them about a week of wear. Here, the best professional gel polishes to bring to the salon, the best at-home options for a DIY manicure to use with your home UV kit, and the top hybrids that land you somewhere in the middle of the benefits of a regular polish and a gel.