NAILS | Essie Gel Setter review (and one for you, too!)


You all know by now that essie is my favourite nail brand, some percent due to it being, you know, actually good, and the rest because nail polish bottles of all shapes and sizes stress me out a little bit. Square essie bottles are simple and practical, and the brush is nice and flat and wide, and (with a few exceptions) the polish is really good quality and stays around for ages. I’d almost say essie didn’t need to launch a gel-like top coat, but they did it, with Gel Setter* available now, and it’s bloody great.

If I were the type of person to be embarrassed about how much nail polish I own, I would say I have an embarrassingly large nail polish collection; as it happens, despite adding to it frequently, I never quite feel I have enough colours. It does mean I often reach for bottles on the essie stand at work only to realise that I already own them. Luckily for you, though, this means I have a brand new bottle of Sand Tropez as well as a new Gel Setter to give away!


The essie Gel Setter says it’s going to give you ‘rock hard shine’ like gel polish. I’ve never had gel polish on my nails because I cbf sitting awkwardly opposite a stranger while trying not to breathe the fumes too deeply, but popular culture tells me it is shiny and good. This went on smoothly and dried as quickly as Seche Vite does, which is my gold standard in top coats. This is pleasing.

If you want a quick manicure then a coat of this will beef up your nail polish, and, like a few other good top coats I’ve used, smooth over any minor brush marks. This feature is particularly key when working with lighter coloured polishes who take like fifteen coats to get opaque and then the polish is so thick you can push it around on your nail (usually after you’re certain it is dry and have just decided to brave going to the toilet or doing something else that requires dexterity).


If, on the other hand, you want a really solid manicure, like with all things, you mustn’t rush it. This nail stack is for when you’ve got a whole new season of Project Runway to stream while you sit in bed with the heater on and the window open. I start with the Millionails treatment, followed by the Fill The Gap ridge filler, three coats of Sand Tropez, a quick coat of Gel Setter and some Quick-E drops to finish because why the hell not, at this point.


With just the top coat over Sand Tropez, I found I got four days of super shiny nails without any chipping. When it started to come away, it peeled from the base of my nails rather than from the tips, which I entirely attribute to my inability to paint my nails tidily.


Now’s the part where I give away a bottle of both Gel Setter and Sand Tropez (probably the part you’ve been waiting for). This can only be to people in New Zealand, sorry, because international mail carriers stress out about flammable goods. You should probably like essie on Facebook, as well as Hyacinth Girl on Facebook, before leaving me a comment here on this post telling me what your favourite essie nail polish colour is (I want you to do this to enable my polish addiction, nothing more). Entries will close on 14 October!

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  • Jamie Allen

    My fave Essie polish is Bikini so teeny.
    Such a cool pastel blue colour. I also want to try the matte Essie polishes

  • Laura | Laura Laura Blog

    Essie is definitely my favourite brand of polishes too. I recently got their ‘In the lobby’ which, with a few coats, is an amazing deep purple. I also splashed out on a Apricot cuticle oil which is greeeeeat! I haven’t tried/heard of their Millionails so might just need to go and grab that next!

  • Jordanne-Elizabeth Leigh

    I loved this post! It was done so well, as all of your posts are! You even made a gif which is AMAZING! I am so boring and I love neutrals which is why I toss between Fiji and All Tied Up. I can’t describe colours but I wear them interchangeably!!! Good luck to everyone who enters ????

  • Lucy Allan

    Love the gif! I’m hopeless (actually just really really impatient) when it comes to my nails, so the Quick Dry drops by Essie is my favourite nail product at the moment! Colour wise, Ballet Slippers will always be a firm favourite, followed by Wicked!

  • Kristie

    Butler please – it’s the perfect shade of cobalt blue with a creme finish 🙂

  • carlyhitchcock

    Cute I love your gif! And the red background. Essie is my fav too. I definitely understand about the square bottles – they fit so nicely together. Ooh I think my fav has to be the silver glitter topcoat: Set in Stones. It looks so pretty over pastel pinks and blues…

  • My fave is Watermelon, it’s so bright and cheerful!

  • Ellie S

    Madison Ave-Hue which is a gorgeous bright pink!

  • I wish I owned some essie polishes! I love the look of First Timer ad Big Spender. I need to buy some essie!

  • Kate Van Der Weert

    So many favorites! Currently obsessed with pink-a-boo.

  • Chelsea

    My all time fav is Go Ginza! <3

  • Sohnal Naran

    I have so much nail polish its crazy but hey more colours to match things! i think of it as a good thing! and I have to many favourite essie nail polishes :O my top would have to be boom boom room, geranium and cocktails and coconuts 🙂