This plant-based nail polish looks like gel but can be removed like normal polish

A plant-based gel polish that can be removed like ordinary nail varnish? Sounds too good to be true, right? Stylist’s beauty director Shannon Peter finds out. 

Gel manicures are largely unparalleled when it comes to shine and resilience, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their fair share of bugbears too.

First, there’s the laborious removal process. I know I’m not the only one that has – admittedly on multiple occasions – bent under the weight of my own impatience and picked off my polish, taking half my nail plate with it. I know lots of people aren’t particular fans of the thickness of gel polish, either. And then there’s the UV light it requires to set. Fine if you’ve got a nail artist making sure your fingers don’t spend too long under its strong rays, but not so ideal when left to your own devices.

But I’ve discovered a British beauty brand that has figured out a way to near-enough fix all of these problems: Manucurist. 

Manucurist is an impossibly chic nail brand all the way from Paris. Its MO is to merge the worlds of natural beauty and nail care, which means all of its polishes use as many plant-based ingredient alternatives as humanly possible.

But the thing that got me really excited about this brand was Green Flash, a gel polish system that looks like gel, works like a gel, but is a lot gentler on your nails than gel. Of course, I was a bit cynical. But I thought I might as well take this at-home kit for a spin to find out if it really is too good to be true.

The first thing I noticed is that, unlike regular gel nail polish, this version cures using an LED lamp, rather than UV which means there’s none of that unnerving aching sensation you get when your fingers have been under the light for a little too long. 

You first paint on a base coat, followed by two colour coats and finally a topcoat, setting under the light in between each layer. The key is making sure each layer is as thin as you can manage, which isn’t easy if you’re as heavy-handed as I am. But it is vital. This is what makes sure the polish cures quickly, and stays put for longer. 

The other thing I noticed was that this formula feels thinner than regular gel polish so the finished result, while glossier and firmer than ordinary polish, doesn’t have that thick plastic-y finish you often get from gel. Problem is, it did mean for the lighter colours, like the pale pearl tone I’m currently wearing, it takes around three colour coats to get an even spread of colour. 

The best part? It doesn’t take soaking and scraping to get rid of it. In fact, you simply remove it just like you would regular nail polish, although it only works using Manucurist’s specially-developed remover. It’s completely acetone-free, which means it doesn’t feel like it’s completely dehydrating your fingertips in the process, which I’m all for. And because it’s so easy to take off, it makes a particularly good option for anyone who’s fairly fickle in their nail colour choices: decided you no longer like your manicure? Then just take it off and start again. 

There is one downside, however, and that’s that your manicure doesn’t last quite as long. Given that this formula is without the so-called ‘toxic’ substances that give regular gel polish its sturdiness, and that it feels a lot thinner than regular gel, the resulting manicure it isn’t quite as hardwearing. I have been known to cling on to a gel manicure for upwards of a month, whereas this one lasts around ten days, which really isn’t bad going at all. 

I have to say, I’m thoroughly impressed. It may not have the same industrial-strength as a standard issue gel manicure, but it’s advantages (i.e. simple to apply, easy to remove, gentle on the nails) definitely outweigh any downsides. Now to try and polish up my nail painting skills… 

Manucurist Nomad Full Kit Green Flash 


Manucurist Nomad Full Kit Green Flash contains the base coat, top coat, remover and LED light, and costs £69. 

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Images: courtesy of brand.