Essie Gel Setter Top Coat

Essie Gel Setter Top Coat

4.2

74 reviews

82% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.3

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 4.3

Price: $$$

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Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

This topcoat keeps my manicures in near perfect condition for 5-7 days, easily. Longer if paired with a high quality polish like another Essie, an OPI l, or surprisingly, Wet N Wild Megalast. It goes on thick but dries to the touch in a matter of minutes and thoroughly within the hour. The bottle does dry out easily i have to replace it about half way though if I'm not careful to keep the screw threads on the cap clean and sealed tightly.



on 8/20/2017 6:35:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

Great. Only at the end gets a little bit dry and not to easy to put it on


Age: 36-43

Skin: Combination, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brown, Curly, Other

Eyes: Brown

This top coat is exactly what I've been looking for and is now my go-to TC. I've been using it for a couple of months, and I do my nails every week. A few answers to questions I had when I was looking at buying this: No, it's not a gel; that's just a marketing gimmick. It comes off very easily with regular NP remover. Yes, you can use it with any brand of NP, not just Essie. On to particulars - it applies very smoothly, and its finish is *very* shiny. It's probably the shiniest TC I've used - shinier than Seche Vite and even nosing out SH Insta-Dri (my previous HG) as well. Gel Setter isn't a QDTC, but it's pretty darn close. The main benefit is no worries about shrinkage whatsoever, which is always a concern with QDTCs. However, dings/dents are more likely in the first 1-2 hours if you're not careful. As with all my manis, if I want it to last a full week, around Day 4 I have to re-wrap the tips and re-apply a TC. (And since this isn't a QDTC, it fits the bill for that purpose as well.) Because this is SOP for me, I don't see this as a negative, just reality. I don't do gel polish because of damage concerns, but I imagine if you're used to a real gel manicure, this will disappoint because the longevity will most certainly not match up. But if your expectations are calibrated to a standard mani, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

7 of 8 people found this helpful.


Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Brown

Like the other reviewers, my 3 bottles of Gel Setter became stringy, thick, gloopy, and difficult to work with around halfway through the bottle. Adding some thinner before each usage helps but in my experience the original texture of the top coat is lost by that point.

The first half of the bottle is great, however. Thin and easy to work with, minimal smell, fast drying (but not quick), good longevity over the week.

The applications during the first dozen usages of a new bottle are beautiful and so lovely, but I can't justify repurchasing again and then throwing away half of the product OR reusing a deteriorating product and having imperfect manis. Back to Seche Vite.

4 of 5 people found this helpful.


Age: 36-43

Skin: Acne-prone, Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

Better than most I've tried.


Age: 44-55

Skin: Dry, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Blue

I like how this formula is on the thick side and find that it applies a high gloss shine as the top coat to my self-done mani. I don't believe it last any longer than a thinner formula but I do prefer the look of the finish this gives. As other reviewers mentioned, because it is a thicker formula it tends to get goopy about halfway through the bottle but honestly I find any polish gets crappy once you start moving into the lower half of the bottle which is when I start to dispose of them. The polish dries quickly enough but I would still recommend taking care not to dent or smudge nails for a couple of hours to be on the safe side.


Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Fair, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Brown

Just like the MakeupAlley page for John Frieda Go Blonder spray, the reviews here are extremely divided. There are two groups of people - the first, who think this is the best product in the world, and the second, who thought the same as the first until they used the product for too long and realised it's terrible.

This was my HG top coat for the first few months I had it. I recommended it to everyone so I'm sorry if you're one of them.

It applied thick, yet didn't take that long to dry. If I ever made a mistake with my colour (fingerprint, accidentally smudging a hole into it and then dolloping a blob onto it to cover it) then this top coat completely smoothed it over and made it look perfect. I saved a lot of nail polish remover/treatmenty/colour because of this. It never bubbled, which is a top coat deal breaker for me.

However I've now had it for around 5ish months (stored in a dark cool place) and it's half empty and it is the worst consistency I've ever used. It crusts up significantly on the neck, getting flakes everywhere, and it's difficult to move the brush away from the bottle because really thick stretchy strands of the polish stay attached. When you do apply it to your nails after its reached this consistency, it suffers serious shrinkage - it peels away from the sides of my nail so that about 1/4 of it is left uncovered. This is fairly noticeable because of how thick the polish is.

If you are okay with spending this much money on a product that will only last you a few months, then I'd absolutely recommend it. I however will keep searching for my perfect top coat. I've used many highly reviewed products by Sally Hansen, OPI and others (Seche Vite is the only popular product I haven't bought because I don't want to support a brand that forces you to buy a separate restorer that allows you to use their polish properly), if that gives you an idea of what I am comparing this to. I find that while Sally Hansen has quick drying shiny finishes, they bubble easily and I don't think OPI top coats are worth the price, although I usually buy their colours.

I'll keep looking and update this review if I find a similar polish with a longer shelf life.

UPDATE: After a lot of research, I've found that no other top coat comes close in comparison. I've therefore decided to suck it up and repurchase this, knowing that it will only last me a few months. I simply can't begin to explain how fantastic this polish is when it's new - it smooths out every mistake and doesn't bubble. I've never found another polish that could fix mistakes like this one so it occurred to me - what if whatever chemical it is that does that is also the same one that causes it to expire quickly? I'd rather spend $30 more a year to have nails that look fantastic and never chip and save me on colour polish than "save" $30 and have okay nails that will only last five days at most with some bubbling.

Update 2: Nope! I bought my second bottle and posted the above update THREE WEEKS ago and it has already turned goopy and bubbly! I was so careful with the second bottle knowing this - I picked one from the back of the display and always stored mine in a shoebox in a cool closet and it still gooped in three(!) weeks. This cost me $30NZD and I can't return it and I'm pissed. Will never buy this again. I have posted a photo of the bubbles to show you how bad this polish is. I don't care if I simply got a dud bottle because that shows a lack of quality control on Essie's end, and it only would have lasted me a few months if it wasn't.

Update 3: Someone kindly messaged me telling me to try out Essence The Gel polish instead and it's fantastic, a measly $6NZD, no chips until the sixth day and NO BUBBLES! It's not as good compared to a brand new bottle of Essie but for the price and longevity, I will be buying Essence for a long time and have zero plans to search for a new top coat. Highly highly recommend the Essence instead.

10 of 12 people found this helpful.


on 10/15/2016 10:38:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Oily, Fair, Cool

Hair: Red, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Blue

Like quite a few other reviewers, I loved this at first. It was a nice, shiny, quick drying topcoat that really seemed to help my polishes last longer. I'm about halfway through the bottle and it's getting really thick, stringy, and goopy. It's pretty much the same issue that Seche Vite has. I don't want to have to thin it before every use. Still looking for that HG QDTC!


Age: 25-29

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Neutral

Hair: Black, Straight, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

This does its job as a high shine top coat. It goes on very smoothly and dries quickly as well, definitely not something for people looking for a quick dry top coat, but I find it dries much faster than regular shiny top coats. My only quips with this polish is that it does not seem to prolong the wear of my manicure/makes it chip faster, and it shrinks some nail polishes - but it's very minor.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.


on 8/31/2016 9:59:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Green

I though I found my HG top coat when I tried it for the first time: it is shiny, fast (ish) drying. But when I was 1/3 down, it all started to go wrong. This polish became thick and gloopy, I started to add thinner before every use, which didn't make much difference. When thicker this top coat becomes stringy and it starts to bubble up badly. This top coats has gone from hero to zero in my eyes. There are better products out there.

4 of 5 people found this helpful.


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