Review: Essie Gel Setter Top Coat



Hey everyone!

Today I have a quick review for you on Essie’s Gel Setter Top Coat. Prior to purchasing this product, I had heard some great things about it and I was so anxious to give it a try.  Reason being – I can rarely get nail polish to last more than a few days without chipping and/or peeling and once I get even a little chip, I need it off of my nails otherwise I end up peeling it off and destroying my nail bed as a result.  Plus chipped nails just make me feel so uncomfortable!

So what are its claims?  From the Essie website: “essie gel•setter™ tops any of your favorite essie colors with all the cushy, rock-hard shine of a gel, in a foolproof formula for at home manis and pedis.”

I thought I’d give this a try with an Essie polish as well as a non-Essie polish.  I first applied Orly’s Bonder as my base coat and then applied Essie’s Play Date on my toes and Deborah Lippmann’s She Bop on my fingers. I applied two coats of each polish, and one coat of the Gel Setter.  I’d say the coat of Gel Setter was probably more on the thicker side.

I applied the gel coat on my toes prior to heading to bed, which is really just bad judgement on my part as I typically wake up the next morning with sheet impressions on my nails.  However I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up the next morning without them – bonus!

I applied the gel coat on my fingernails in a complete rush the night we left on vacation.  After application, I was running around, throwing things into suitcases, picking up things, opening/closing zippers, etc. and I fully expected to see some smudging and damage to my  polish but to my surprise, they looked as perfect as they did right after I applied the Gel Setter.

The lasting power of this is what really blew me away though!  On the second day of my vacation I decided to do some shopping which always does a number on my nails.  Doing up zippers and buttons, trying on shoes, swatching makeup etc. all required the use of my hands and fingers and definitely put some stress on my nails.  Despite all that, my polish stayed intact!  It wasn’t until the 5th day of wear that I started to notice some chipping.  And to be honest, I can blame that on my Sephora compact mirror.  (Sidenote – Sephora’s compact mirrors are one of my biggest pet peeve.  You’d think a cosmetics company could design a mirrored compact that didn’t destroy your nails when trying to open it?  I have a dozen of these laying around and I actually really like using them but the design is just so frustrating. Maybe it’s just me?)  Anyway, once it did start to chip I still kept the polish on for a day or two after because that’s how long it took for the chipping to progress to the point where it was bothering me and my peeling instincts took over.

My pedicure however, was even more impressive.  I applied the polish on the night of August 27 and to date – still not a chip insight.  Obviously polish tends to last a lot longer on my toes then it does on my fingers but I usually will have some kind of chipping or signs of wear by this point.  As mentioned I did use an Essie polish on my toes which may explain its longevity.

The last thing I’m loving about this is the glossy, shiny finish it leaves behind.  Rarely can I make my at-home manicures look anything like they do after a professional has done them but the shine this leaves behind really gives my nails that salon-quality look.  The gloss and shine last days into application as well.

In summary:


  • My at-home manicure lasted a full 5 days with minimal chips; pedicure is still going strong almost two weeks in with zero chips!
  • Very shiny, glossy finish
  • Dries quickly


  • Seems to work best with Essie polishes

I’m really looking forward to trying this out with more of my Essie and non-Essie polishes and seeing what the results are.  Have you tried this gel top coat?  If so, let me know your thoughts!

Thanks for reading!


  1. stashmatters says

    I have a review of this in the works too and I agree – the lasting power is outstanding! I haven’t tried it over non-Essie brand polishes though, so very good to know!
    I use Bonder as my base too – it’s HG material for me. What top coat did you use prior to this one?

    • ClassicMaggie says

      I actually used a Deborah Lippman Hard Rock Hydrating Hardener previously. And i loved it! It was super shiny and I found it was pretty good at keeping chips at bay. It’s nowhere near as good as the Essie top coat though! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!

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