Beauty Test Drive: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel

I’ve never been into gel manicures, not only because they cost more than my lazy at-home DIY nail routine, but because the effort it takes to remove them kind of freaks me out. Gels aren’t known to be great for your health either, so I was mystified by Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel nail polish. It promises two weeks of gel-like color and shine without a UV lamp or drawn-out removal process. Anything pitched as a corner-cutting “miracle” solution, especially one you can buy at CVS, makes me eager to try it out so I can either debunk (what usually happens) that BS or become a devotee of something that will “change my life” (which has happened maybe twice ever).

Price: $8 each for Color & Top Coat, Target

Application: The process has its own tutorial, but the application is so simple that it barely needs one. I applied two coats of Creme de la Creme, a pretty pale pink (one of my favorite things about this line is the fun colors), letting each fully dry before layering. After that, I applied the mysterious curing top coat, which dried in natural light rather than under a UV lamp. Each coat took quite a while to dry, and the polish was a bit thin and streaky. It was very easy to control where the polish was going instead of ending up with a drippy mess, which I liked. The shade looks the same on my nails as it did in the bottle.

Results: I tried this twice over the past few weeks, and the first time turned out much better, though I’m not sure why just yet. The polish didn’t exactly have the gel-like consistency it promised, but it was very smooth and had a shine to it. To me, it didn’t seem comparable to a real gel manicure, but I ended up loving and reusing it anyway for its staying power. The polish stayed perfectly on my nails just over a week with barely any chipping. Around the 8th or 9th day, it started to chip a little, and within a few hours it was crumbling to bits. Sally Hansen promised “up to 14 days of color and shine,” and while my hands would have looked like a disaster zone if I’d left it on that long, I think a solid week of chip-free color is just about unheard of in the realm of drugstore nail polish – or really, any nail polish. It was so glorious to spend a full week not giving my chipped, fugly polish job a bitter stare-down in the middle of the day (which happens way more often than I’d like to admit) and not to worry about making time to redo my nails every ten seconds. For a brief shining moment, I deemed myself converted to the cult of Miracle Gel.

Test Drive

Then, a few days ago, I redid the manicure. This time around, it’s chipping more quickly, and it looks much streakier, catapulting me into a deep Nail Polish Crisis Of Faith. I mean, I thought I’d found my new favorite product on the planet! I’m not sure if the change in quality has to do with some fluke in how I applied on or what, but for now I’m basing my rating just on my first attempt because I’m not ready to give up on this stuff yet (the reason it gets a 3.5 despite me being obsessed with the stuff is that it doesn’t look much like a gel manicure despite its promises). I intend to try it a third time soon because I’m in love with its chip resistance – if things turn out funky again like they did on my second try, I’ll report back!

Rating: 3.5/5