C633a55cf14dcbfa82cb manicure hacks

Whether you’re a gel mani devotee looking to give your nails a break, or love the versatility of polish but crave extra durability and shine, we’ve got good news for you: It’s pretty easy to mimic gel’s signature finish with traditional lacquer. Read on to find out three ways to achieve that gel look for a fraction of the price.

1- Select the right base.

If you’re looking to mirror gel lacquer’s flawless finish, it all starts with a good base coat. Opt for a perfecting base coat, such as a ridge-filling or a color-correcting formula that gives your natural nails a smooth foundation without any sign of imperfection.


Get Even


Deborah Lippmann

All About That Base CC Treatment Base Coat

2 - Finish with an ultra-glossy, plumping top coat.

Look for top coat formulas with the words “plumping,” “high-shine,” and “gel-like” in the name. These toppers are the key to mimicking gel’s voluminous, wet-looking finish. Unlike traditional top coats, these products form a protective barrier around the nail to protect against chipping and flaking. Plus, most formulas can be cured in natural sunlight, instead of under a UV or LED lamp, and they remove easily with any polish remover.


Seche Vive

Instant Gel Effect Top Coat



Gel Genius Top Coat


3 - Opt for a “hybrid” nail lacquer.

Although recreating the look of a gel mani is simple,  it’s become even easier thanks to the invention of long-lasting lacquer. A cross between traditional lacquer and gel, these hybrid nail colors are applied just like polish, but they are formulated to deliver a durable, long-lasting, high-shine finish. Quick tip: Always use the proper base and top coat when working with these hybrid lacquers. If you mix and match different formulas, then the polish may not last as long.


OPI Infinite Shine

Essie Gel Couture

For more nail tips and tricks be sure to check out our top articles, here!