“This nail polish is so good, I may never need to get a gel mani again”

Posted by for Beauty

I – like most of us – am a staunch gel manicure devotee. But having tried this new, genuinely quick-drying nail polish, I think I might be swayed…

There’s no denying that the invention of the gel manicure was somewhat revolutionary. A manicure as hard-wearing as a seagrass carpet that lasts two whole weeks? The appeal is unquestionable. So much so, that before lockdown, I rarely painted my own nails, favouring the efficiency of a fortnightly salon appointment over failed attempts to self-administer a manicure with my own (very shaky) hands.

But then I came across Essie’s new Expressie Quick Dry Formula, £7.99 each. A nail polish that promises to dry in 60 seconds, resist chips and be a breeze to apply. With salon doors continuing to remain closed, I gave it a go.

Granted, my first run with this polish was applied by a professional (pre-lockdown, of course). But when that manicure finally gave up the ghost after an impressive 10 days of wear, I tried it with my own fair hands. It might sound hyperbolic, but it’s so incredible, I could actually see myself using it in lieu of my regular gel manicures – even after salons open again.

Essie Expressie in Precious Cargo-go on Shannon’s (very dry) hands

Want to know what makes it so special? Well, the reasons are fourfold.

Firstly, the shade range is spectacular. Think the muted colour palette of a 70s interior designer: avocado green, mustard yellow, cornflower blue,  butterscotch beige, bathroom-suite peach. Very cool and very now.


Secondly, the brush. I have NEVER been good at painting my own nails. Honestly, my manicures have all the neatness of a Jackson Pollock painting, so I welcome any form of innovation that promises a tidier finish.

For Expressie, that innovation is the shape of the brush. The bristles are slightly clipped at the corner, giving it the kind of curvature you need to tuck it neatly at the side of the cuticles, which is especially helpful for your non-dominant hand. And they’re a bit wider than usual, meaning you can near-enough cover the entire nail in a single swipe. It sounds too simple to be true (I, myself, scoffed at the thought) but it genuinely makes a difference.


Thirdly – and this one’s the biggie – it dries ridiculously fast.

Given the nail industry’s many (failed) attempts at a genuinely fast-drying polish over the years, I was unsurprisingly dubious of Expressie’s 60-second claim. But I really shouldn’t have been. After a minute (with none of that reckless blowing on my nails to speed up proceedings, might I add) my nails were so bone dry, I could pull up a pair of tight jeans without them smudging. They weren’t dry-to-the-touch (whatever that means) or a-bit-tacky-but-dry, they were dry-dry.


How does it work? Well, the polish contains faster-acting solvents and solvent-releasing resins which allow it to dry in record time. It also helps that it has an in-built base and top coat, so you needn’t wait for multiple layers to dry. And then the angled brush also stops polish from pooling at the cuticles and prevents you applying too much – the thinner the layer of polish, the faster it dries. 

Shannon trying out Essie Expressie in Saffr-on the Move

The final reason I love it? It lasts way longer than any regular polish I’ve tried. Even with extra hand-washing and hand cream application, my manicure stayed put, chip-free for over a week. Now, I have been known to eek out a gel manicure for four weeks in the past, but for a DIY polish-job that doesn’t require you to leave the house? I’d say that’s pretty good going, wouldn’t you?

Essie Expressie Quick Dry Formula, £7.99 each, available at

Sign up for our essential edit of what to buy, see, read and do, and also receive our 11-page Ultimate Guide To Making Your Home Feel Bigger.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: courtesy of Essie.

Share this article

Recommended by Shannon Peter