OPI’s New Gelcolor – A Review

I absolutely love the way I feel when my nails are coated with dark, glossy lacquer. Something about it just makes me feel finished. Unfortunately, a combination of limited free time and very unsteady hands means my at-home manicures rarely come out the way I want them to. And I’m just too rough on my hands for a salon manicure to be worth it – it chips off in days!

I used to get full gel sets, but it was just too much of a time and money commitment. Because the removal was so difficult, I never had a choice on whether to keep up with fills every two weeks. I just had to, and it kind of stunk. When my budget got tight, I finally gave them up.

I’ve heard a lot about soak-off gels like OPI Axxium, but hadn’t heard the best reviews about their durability. It seemed silly to me that they took so long to soak off at every single appointment. I was already strapped for time – I wasn’t about to do something that took longer. And at my salon, they cost more than regular gel fills! Not a great option.

But a few weeks ago, I stopped into my nail salon to get my eyebrows waxed and my technician told me about OPI’s new Gelcolor formula. It comes in OPI’s most beloved colors, but it’s much thinner than the Axxium, and it both cures and soaks off much more quickly. Each coat takes only 30 seconds to cure, and supposedly it takes 10 minutes or less to soak off. Best of all, they were charging the same exact price as a regular gel fill! When the holidays rolled around, I decided to treat myself, just to try it out.

Here’s how they looked the day after my manicure. Brad wasn’t around to take a picture, so it’s not the best shot.

OPI New Gelcolor in Lincoln Park After Dark

I got my favorite color, Lincoln Park After Dark. The experience was really cool! The technician (who wasn’t my usual girl) prepped my nails as if I was getting a regular manicure – cuticle removal, etc – and then started with the OPI Gelcolor products. Unlike the Axxium, they come in bottles that look just like regular nail polish, except they’re solid black.

OPI New Gelcolor
Image via Nails by Cheryl

Much like a regular manicure, the application consisted of a base coat, two colored coats and a top coat. Each coat spent a mere 30 seconds under the LED light. They were cured before the tech even finished with my other hand! After the last coat had cured, my nails were instantly as hard as plastic. This, to me, was the best part – no more sitting around waiting for the polish to dry, only to chip my thumb as I try to get out my credit card!

And after almost three weeks, I can tell you – this stuff is damn near unchippable. Here’s a photo from the two-week mark.

OPI New Gelcolor in Lincoln Park After Dark - Two Weeks Later

The regrowth is pretty visible – my one complaint about my technician was that she started off pretty far from my cuticle – but because the gel is so thin, it doesn’t look nearly as ridiculous as a grown-out regular gel or acrylic set. And because it’s an OPI color, I can touch it up at home with the coordinating nail polish.

Overall, for $25, I would definitely do this again. I don’t feel as pressured to keep up with it on a strict two-week basis, but it’s such an easy, fast way to get the most durable manicure I’ve ever had. (Even traditional gel sets just have regular polish on top – I can tell you from experience that those chip a LOT faster!) I got my manicure the day before Thanksgiving, and I still do not have one. single. chip.

Because this is so long-lasting, and you can’t remove the color at home, I might not recommend this to people who like to change their color frequently. I’m pretty happy to have Lincoln Park After Dark all the time, though, so it’s perfect for me!

Here are the colors that have been released so far, to my knowledge:

OPI New Gelcolor - Color Chart
Image via UVnailpolish.com

Have you tried soak-off gel? What’s your manicure method of choice?

  • Hi! I just came across your blog and love it! I, like you, used to get gel manicures and then realized I hated the time it took to keep them up, not to mention the cost. I haven’t tried OPI yet, but I started getting shellac manicures and love them. With a job and chasing after a little one, this manicure is very good because it hardly chips until about the 2 week mark. Just bummed that I can’t change the color that often. Please keep up the posts 🙂

    • I’ve heard this formula is a lot like Shellac — isn’t it awesome??

  • I got a gel manicure (Shellac) for my bridal portraits and my wedding day, and I looooved it. I was packing to move the same weekend I got married, so I went and got my manicure and then was hauling crap around, and I was singing hallelujah for no chips! I tried a bright pink for my toes and something comparable to Rosy Future for my fingers. Love it! Wouldn’t splurge on it all the time, but for those occasions it was totally worth it.

    • Ooh, I wouldn’t have thought to get it on my toes! That’s a great idea!

  • That’s super cool! I’ve never used it, but I would be tempted to try it. I wish I could remove it at home because I hate having to go back unless I’m really up for it. But, I am notorious for messing up my polish before I even leave the salon, so this could be really good for me.

    • Supposedly you can do it at home with pure acetone, cotton balls and aluminum foil (http://www.thenailteacher.com/2011/05/at-home-soak-off-gel-removal/) – I haven’t tried that yet, though!

      • Iva

        You can soak in pure acetone in a small glass bowl for 10 minutes. It works much better and isn’t any more drying to the skin than the cottenballs. Just apply cuticle oil and a nice lotion after. This method also used much less acetone and isn’t creating a bunch of garbage. I also find using a file to GENTLY remove just the shine from the topcoat speeds up the removal process in our salon.

  • Kimberly Kowalski

    The at home removal process with foil does work, its long and a little tedious but it works if you really don’t want to go back to the salon (which I didn’t). I love that nail color by the way you are making me want to go get gel nail polish again.

    • Ah, good to know! I’m also wondering if you could just paint over them until they grow out — though it would be pretty hard to cover up a dark color like the one I have.

      • ellen

        I’ve done it. I gently filed down the gelcolor nail polish ridge at the growth line and painted the whole nail with regular polish. It wasn’t gorgeous but it worked till I could get my next polish done.

  • AMAZING! On my Shopping List!
    xo Christina

    • Highly recommended!

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  • Michelle Barrow

    Hi i’m a nail Tech!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE the OPI Gelcolor.. We also use the Shellac too!!! We love them both at are Spa… I do believe OPI Gelcolor lasts so much longer tho!!!!

    • Ooh, good to know! I’ve never tried Shellac. 🙂

    • Jaime

      I love the OPI Gelcolor. I like it better than the shellac. I’m not looking for ways to enhance, such as nail art and glitter….if anyone has any tips, please let me know! Thanks!

      • Jaime

        oops….I mean, I’m now looking to do nail art etc. 🙂

  • Kate Ryan

    I was wondering with this Gelcolor manicure can you have a fill-in for regrowth just like you can for regular gel and acrylics? Why is it necessary to soak-off each time?

    • It’s thin like a polish. It’s a completely different animal. Think of removing your nail polish each time. You remove it and then cover with a new color. Same concept.

    • Chelsea

      Because it starts lifting and chipping after 2 or 3 weeks….and yes, I’ve used Shellac, Gelish and now Gelcolor…and while all are easy to apply and basically the same (Gelish pulls away from edges sometimes) Gelcolor is by far the most lasting plus it comes in a lot of the classic OPI colors:)

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  • Iva

    I have had trouble with the OPI gelcolor chipping or even peeling off my acrylics. I repaired my thumb nail 3 times Sunday…I never had this happen with Harmony Gel polish. Also the two people I tested it on in my salon found it didn’t hold up as well and peeled off easily. Anyone have any suggestions?

    • caroline

      get your tech to dry brush the polish in between coats, should help, make sure to cap the free edge

  • Carol

    I am a nail tech and I am experiencing peeling of the gel color with some of my clients as well. I don’t have the 400.00 light, but I am using a uv light. I was told to do a dry manicure. No soak no cuticle remover. What about that? Any suggestions?

    • Carol — Make sure you cap your ends just before you put that hand into the lamp… seems the GC is “pulling away” from the free edge. I find the second capping then immediately putting it in the lamp works well. I, too, use a UV lamp (CND’s, actually, which is a similar wavelength to the OPI one) with no problems. Other UV lamps (even if “36W”) won’t work nearly as well… You can use cuticle remover, just make sure you wipe it off really well and don’t forget your Bond Aid before your base coat. Otherwise, dry manicure and really detailed cuticle work! If you need anything else, please PM me on FaceBook — artistryofthenail is my regular profile and artistryofthenailsalon is my work page.

    • Angie

      I am glad to read all of the comments on the gel color from nail techs.I am one as well and went to the opi gel color class..dry manicure for sure and they said no cuticle cream either! I am having quite a few issues with the gel color but no issues from shellac.The Opi system was sooo expensive and not sure whether or not to return it. Just a little disappointed.My clients say that theres is lifting in only a matter of a couple days!! HELP!

  • Carol

    I need feedback for the OPI Gel colors!

  • Alex

    I love OPI’s axxium gels. But, I did purchase the Gel Color because of the quick cure time and five finger light, it does make for a really quick service, we’ll see how they hold up! As far as prep time @ Carol I do know that it is important not to soak the hands for this service and cuticle remover has too much moisturizer. I use an antibacterial gel for pushing back the cuticle which has two benefits: it helps with keeping the nail ‘dehydrated’ and helps with sanitation. I hope this helps!

  • Annie

    I do Gelish at home. The only thing is you gotta have a steady hand or friend with a steady hand or clean around the nail carefully. Also this is just me but I don’t paint my nails with it very often because it lasts so long and I get sick of colors. But its great when you know your gonna destroy a normal manicure and or not be around nail polish to fix your nails. Like I’d do it before a vacation so I didn’t have to cart all my nail stuff with me. Its expensive too but I buy it on amazon in full sized bottles, and its much cheaper to do it yourself than go to a salon.

    • It’s so great for vacations!

  • Meegan

    Is this like regular ploish that can be removed with polish remover? Or do you need to do something special to remove it? An do you need a light?

    • It’s a colored gel, not a regular nail polish. You can’t remove it with regular nail polish remover, but you can soak it off with pure acetone, which you can find at beauty supply stores. You do need a light to cure it, though. 🙂

  • Devonne’

    I am a manicurist and this product it awesome! I am always telling everyone about it. OPI Gelcolor, CND Shellac and Gelish are the best “power polishes” out there. I am currently wearing OPI Gelcolor on Pink Flamenco. I also love that I can do nail art with these products too. At least you get your monies worth for a manicure now!

    • Pink Flamenco is such a great color!

    • Jaime

      I’m also a nail tech….do you just do the nail art then top coat and cure?

      • Tiffany Blue Woods

        I’m a nail tech as well and when I do nail art on top of gel polish, I apply the art after wiping off the tacky cured top coat. Then I do my art using Konad w/regular polish and a CND top coat. By doing it this way you can change your art work more often yet the gel polish will remain. It will last just like polish lasts on acrylic nails. It was a great discovery! 🙂

  • ))

  • laura

    love the opi gelcolor. have been having some problems with it peeling off after a couple days. i called my OPI lady and she gave some great tips. make sure the nails are healthy! if they’re dry or dehydrated the polish won’t stay. do a good mani and send them home with a good cuticle oil and then have them come back! she also told me that if your client is using products with Mineral oil which is found in eye creams and wrinkle creams this will make the nails peel. idk what it is just something in the product. also. put on your base coat color coac ect. and THEN go back and cap all of the nails. as for pushing back cuticles use the opi handguard (the handsanatizer) works great and you don’t have to worry about extra product built up 🙂

  • We love this range in our dollhouse beautysalon , highly reccomend

  • JenJWMartinez82

    I’ve gotten the OPI GelColor a few times and I’ve never had to soak it off. At about 4 weeks, I take a long hot shower and peel them off.

  • Mindi

    I got a OPI GelColor manicure yesterday. I wanted black but for some reason the poish wanted seperate and wouldn’t stick to the nail. My nail tech ended up removing the black and used Lincoln Park After Dark (close to black). Disappointed about not getting black but overall I am satisfied with the end result. Now we see how long it lasts.

  • Barbara Cootes

    I have no problems with the gel polishes. Shellac and OPI require the correct light. It’s very important! I use the CND 36 watt light for both but have adjusted the times as follows: for Shellac follow regular directions, for OPI gel polish, cure 2 min. for all coats from base to top coats. I use a sand turtle after removing polish , scrub fresh after using Blue Cross cuticle remover. As several people have posted, make sure to cap ends after each coat. Use solar oil after wiping with alcohol. Encourage your clients to use cuticle oil at least every other day!

  • Jodi

    I am using the OPI Gelcolor at home on myself and using it with the CND lamp. I am not licensed and have not had the training and am just doing my own nails. I used the Shellac for awhile but had issue with the Shellac chipping on the edges of my nails mostly my thumbs. I am a stay at home mom and I am pretty rough on my nails. I got the OPI Gelcolor done at the salon before i purchased the colors to see if it would stay better than the Shellac and it was AMAZING. However,,I just started using the Konad nail stamp and have been experimenting with that and nail art. I do the entire system..using NAS 99 to clean, then BondAid, then base and cure for 1 min, 2 color coats curing for 2 min then a top coat curing for 3 minutes. After I clean again with NAS 99 then I apply my nail art, stamps etc then do another top coat cure for 3 min and clean with the 99…..Since doing that the polish separates and i can peel the entire nail polish off in one sheet after only 2-3 days…..I really want to be able to make this work how can i do the stamping? I am caping the free edges as well but on each coat, should I only cap on certain coats? Thanks in advance for the help

  • Angela

    Has anyone had any trouble with a brown discoloring at the tip of the nail. I love this product but twice now, I have had some kind of reaction where it actually looks like I have have “dirty” nails. I use the light pink so it’s pretty noticeable. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  • I am a nail tech and have been using OPI Gel Color for about 6 weeks now. I LOVE IT, (as do all of my clients!) No Chipping, No Peeling, No Lifting for up to 4 weeks! I will not use GELISH or Shellac due to constant chipping. Make sure that the nails are cured VERY well between coats and ALWAYS do 3 coats of the OPI Gel Color. (Base, Light, Color, Light, Color, Light, Color, Light, Top, Light) Then wipe with alcohol.

  • Rica

    Which is recommended more out of OPI, Orly and Shellac?

  • Kate

    I have tried OPI and Shellac and do not like them. Both lifted and peeled with-in a week. I do love Red Carpet Manicure. It is soooo easy to use, inexpensive and lasts 3 weeks easily.

  • Volare

    Thank you for the alcohol swipe advise as the final step. I’m a do it yourselfer working with the OPI gel color and couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t quite setting (had a greasy sheen). The alcohol took care of it and it looks great. Will see how long it lasts…

  • Christine

    I am a Nail tech an have been using the opi gel color for about 2 months and i’m finding with the top coat and Alpine Snow “white” that a lot of the product is getting stuck in the cap”when u shake it before applying” and is leaking when your applying it on a client is anyone else having this issue 

  • Jeannie

    Has or will OPI come out with any Gel glitter top coat for the holidays?

  • mamaduck3

    Hi I am a die hard opi girl. No other brand lives up to opi. I was super amazed by the gel color. I couldn’t wait to use it. I went to a trade show and picked up a complete set. I cure with a uv as this was a pressie for christmas and led lamps still silly money to buy. I am a stay at home mummy of 3 boys so cant afford my local salon prices. I have learned at home with the help of you tube. I do my friends n neighbours with no issues. I get over 2 weeks of flawless glorious coulour and wear with No lifting peeling or splitting. Out standing product a must have for anyone especally those who love opi colours

  • Marie’s nails BSE

    Is anyone having trouble with Rosy Future Gelcolor? I’m on my third bottle, which I have again sent back to my third different supplier … the consistency having been ridiculously gloopy, and chipping on my clients in less than a week … on me less than 3 days! Is anyone else having trouble with this colour?