Review: Essie Gel•Setter Top Coat

By now you’ve probably heard about the Essie Gel•Setter™ top coat – it’s fairly new on the market and promises “cushy, rock-hard shine of a gel, in a foolproof formula”. I was living under a rock and had not heard about this but stumbled upon a display while I was doing some birthday hauling. I picked it up mainly because at the time I had just recently got gel polish applied and loved the shine of the gel polish. Also, the top coat was on sale. 😉
Essie Gel Setter

After I purchased it, I read a rave review by Chic and Polished so I was quite stoked to try it.  I finally busted this open last month and tested it with another new polish (and fivezero enabled item) that I bought during my birthday haul: Essie Perennial Chic.

It’s in a standard square Essie bottle with a silver foil cap – the brush is exactly the same as Essie polishes.  The consistency is not too thick, not too runny.
Essie Gel Setter
Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you I swear by Poshe Fast Dry Top Coat – it’s quick drying, super shiny, long wearing, and doesn’t get all gunky like Seche Vite.  I love it so much that I own a salon-sized bottle that I decant from, and I push it onto all my friends. So Essie Gel•Setter has some stiff competition. Right off the bat, I can see that it is very shiny upon initial application.
Essie Gel Setter over Perennial Chic
Here it is freshly applied, with 1 coat of Orly Bonder, 2 coats of Essie Perennial Chic, and 1 coat of Essie Gel•Setter.  I wouldn’t really say it’s “cushy” like gel polish is, but I did find that it had a slightly slick gel feel over the surface.  I did notice that it took about double the time to fully dry (about 30 minutes) compared to Poshe. (Pro tip: to check if your polish is dry, gently tap your 2 pinky nails together, nail to nail – if they have a tackiness, your nails aren’t dried yet).
Essie Gel Setter over Perennial Chic
Here’s what my manicure looked like after 7 full days:
Essie Gel Setter over Perennial Chic
Not bad really, a bit of visible tip wear, but no obvious chips or peeling nails.  The shine has dulled a bit but overall, the performance is superior to other top coats I’ve tried, but still inferior to Poshe.  One good thing about the Essie it is readily available, whereas Poshe is only available at Sally Beauty Supply or online.

• chip resistant
• long wearing
• shiny
• reasonably priced
• readily available

• not as quick drying as my usual top coat (Poshe)
• shine doesn’t last as long as a gel

Stash worthiness: 8/10

I have yet to try this on top of non-Essie polishes, but according to this review by Classic Maggie, the performance is better when paired with Essie polishes. I’ll have to test it.

I highly recommend this, but for me, Poshe top coat is still the tops! 🙂

50 thoughts on “Review: Essie Gel•Setter Top Coat

  1. Wait, what does cushy mean?!
    Also, your nails do look super shiny!! Like you just got them done at a salon!
    I hate it when my nails are still drying because I never want to ruin them. I just sit, paralyzed waiting for them to be done 😛 lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cushy (pronounced KOOSH-y) means it’s puffed up – have you ever had gel nails done? They look thicker, more puffy than regular nail polishes. It makes the nails look super shiny.
      I know what you mean about being paralyzed when your nails are still wet – I sit there like a robot not moving lol. My bf can’t even come and bother me that whole time!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review – covered all the bases 😀 I just got this recently, but I haven’t had a chance to use it, as the longest I’ve worn a mani lately is…two days.

    I think I’ll use it on my next pedi, though pedis always last longer, anyway.

    CND Super Shiney and Poshe are my fave top coats, though I’m fairly fond of Essie’s Good to Go, as well. Can’t wait to give this one a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, 2 days is the longest? I’ve worn a mani for 10 solid days before! (non-gel) So, are long wearing claims completely lost on you then? 😛
      Yeah this would be super good for pedis (and wow, you’re going to do a pedi and it’s not even sandal season anymore!)
      I’m going to have to look for the CND Super Shiney to test it out!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I haven’t worn a mani for longer than a week in quite a while…I think I wore Zoya Cecilia for about a week a couple months back. Used Seche Vite and it did quite well (the best thing about it is how fast it dries; I was in a hurry). I’m quite hard on my hands, though, so visible tip wear is inevitable after a couple of days.


  3. Hmm, good to know more about this! I saw it in stores a while back when I was looking for a replacement for my finished bottle of top coat…kept going back and forth between this one and my go-to (Sally Hansen Insta-Dri), but ended up going with my go-to as I didn’t know much about the Essie Gel Setter. Everything sounds good except the time it takes to dry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, I really dislike SH Insta-Dri – that top coat CRACKLED on my nails like it I was using a decoupage crackle glaze! And it turned yellow and made my nails looked dirty as the days went on. SO disappointed – I was hoping for a cheaper / more readily available option, but not for me. 😦 But if it works for you – stick with it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Guess I’m giving that Poshe one a try! ! I use Seche Vite & I don’t like it but it does the job so yeah :p but Poshe seems to have your seal of approval so I’ll give it a go!!:)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Even better😄👍👍!! I’ve been searching for another top coat cause I HATE Seche Vite but I haven’t seen or heard any good reviews on top coats. I don’t like buying them and they are a complete waste! Top coats ain’t cheap so yeah lol😑but I’m totally getting Poshe!!!!:D woopwoop!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It really does look gel-like in those photos if you look at the edge of the polish where you can see the border between your nail and the polish, you can see a change in ‘elevation’ hahah.
    I’ve never tried Poshe before, review pleaseeeee? define Poshe’s super shiny.. does it smell bad (i.e., Seche Vite bad)?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah you’re right there is a bit of puffiness there. I guess I was just expecting it to be the level of UV gel nails, ya know?
      Ok, I shall do a review of Poshe for you! I will give it a wear test too. I’d say Poshe’s shiny is up there with Seche Vite’s shiny (but that was never Seche Vite’s issue!). I don’t find the smell overly offensive – I think it smells less than Seche Vite. I don’t have a bottle of Seche Vite around – maybe I need to buy it to remember it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe you can be the next mastermind behind a gel-like top coat that can actually achieve that level of cushy-puffiness haha. it’d be a good side business? Call it the Cushy Coat. 😛 I would love love love to see a review, see if you can convince me to get it :3 I have vowed to never buy another Seche Vite top coat; scent-refresher: it smells like toxic paint sealant

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well I recall something about Seche Vite having to put a warning not to use it during pregnancy? That’s a red flag right there!
          I’ll do the Poshe review and wear test next week with a red nail polish to give it an extra challenge! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a really informative review! I’d been eyeing this top coat but the dry time is a deal breaker for me. I’m a ride or die Seche Vite fan just because it dries so fast. I’ll put up with the shrinkage, gloopiness and killer fumes just so I don’t have to wait for my nails to dry. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
    That shade is really lovely on you!


  7. Great review! I tried this out again last week with Merino Cool and it worked well but it definitely chipped more this time than with Play Date. It still took quite a few days to chip though and I was being pretty hard on my nails. Not all Essie polishes are created equal though, some are definitely more chip-prone than others. Anyway once I’m done with this I’ll definitely have to give the Poshe top coat a try!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s pretty impressive, I’m going to have to try this after I’m done with my current top coat. I’m using the Maybelline Dr Rescue Top Coat that lasts a good 6 days without chipping with the Maybelline Superstay varnishes. Jay x

    Liked by 1 person

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