Image Alt

Pursuit of it All

My Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish Fail

I’m going to start this post off by saying that I’m a huge Sally Hansen nail polish fan. That’s important to get out up front since, obviously, the title of this post might imply otherwise. And, I’ll point out that the use of “My” in the title was, most certainly, intentional.

Of all the affordable nail polish options I’ve tried, Sally Hansen is by far the best when it comes to lasting, chip-free color.

My go-tos are Insta-Dri®, Complete Salon Manicure™, and Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear® because they’re inexpensive (between $4 and $8 a bottle at the local CVS), and because they stand up to a few days’ wear before things start going downhill.

If you couldn’t guess, I’m kind of a serial typist, clickity-clacking for at least 12 or 13 hours a day between my regular job, and all my freelance/blog writing.

Nail polish doesn’t like extreme typing. Not even a little.

Or, maybe it’s just me.

My Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish Fail!

I keep my nails short. A “sporty” length as some call it. Anything too far beyond my finger-tip and I start to twitch as the letters tic-tic-tic when I type. The only way I can describe it is like a claustrophobic feeling that makes me squirmy—I get that way when I’ve worn a hat (especially one with a bill) for too long, too. Two cheers for idiosyncrasies!

Not sure if it’s that sporty length (I’d imagine having longer nails would encourage this, too), but after a day or two, the very top edge of paint on my index and middle finger nails starts wearing away. Shortly after, it’s my right thumb who (because of some sort of learning-to-type snafu) does all the space bar work for all the words. Clickity-click-click

The left thumb, it just gets to hang out and watch. And, as a result, stays beautifully, unchippedly, polished for twice as long as the rest of my actively typing fingernails.

And yet, I have plenty of friends who type just as much as I do, and manage to keep their gel polished finger nails chip free for a week, or even longer. So, I’ve been wondering if that’s the ticket: GEL POLISH.

Used to be you had to visit a salon for gel manicure, and—quite frankly—I don’t have the time or the money to be doing that on the regular. Sometime within the past five years DIY gel polish systems popped up, complete with the lamp and other accessories you need to create the same gel manicured process at home. Nope. Nope. Nope. That’s way too much work.

And THEN, Sally Hansen came up with the magical idea of gel polish that doesn’t require anything fancy to work, aside from a specially formulated polish and a specific “must use” top coat.

At $9.99 a bottle, Sally Hansen Miracle Gel™ is a bit more expensive than my usual Sally Hansen fare, but it’s also a heck of a lot less expensive than visiting a salon every other week, especially when the bottle touts, “Up to 14 Days of Color & Shine!!!!!” and it lasts for lots and lots of applications.

Okay, it doesn’t actually have all (or any) of the exclamation points, but that’s how my mind read it. The thought of polish lasting even a week and looking fabulous is extraordinary.

So, I invested $20 in “Slate-r Girl” and the special top coat and prepared myself to be awed by the staying power of my new gel nail polish friends.

First, I watched a video (because I’m kind of geeky and I wanted to make sure I did it right).

Seems simple enough. Clean nails, two coats polish (dry five minutes between each), one coat top coat, let it dry for 15 minutes “before digging around in your purse,” and then done.

That’s my kind of manicure.

And for the first two days, my “Slate-r Girl” nails looked fab.

It was day three when I noticed my usual index finger wear and tear. And by day four things started to go downhill quickly.

Day five? Let’s just say I put the “Removes like regular nail polish” statement to the test. And it works, the regular non-acetone nail polish remover I use for everything else.

My Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polish fail!

I shared my hopeless gel polish story with some girlfriends.

It appears they don’t see the same pathetic showing that I do. Their Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polished nails (in “All Chalked Up” and “Smartease”) look unblemished at day five.


I feel like the “nailed it” poster child for Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polish, instead of Pinterest.

I’ve reverted back to my Insta-Dri “Cocoa A Go Go” with an Xtreme Wear “Disco Ball” glitter top coat because that combo seems to harden well enough that chips are thwarted AND because when it does chip, the glitter seems to do a nice job of hiding it. Touch ups, for when it’s not so camouflaged, are pretty simple when shimmer’s involved.

But seriously, I refuse to give up on the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polish when it seems to work brilliantly for every other fingernail on the planet.

A girlfriend helped out with a few tips:

Swipe your nails with vinegar first to remove oils, then try using a base. Soak your nails in ice water when you’re done.

So I’m gonna try those tips, along with a double top coat, I think.

But, what say you? Have you tried gel polish at home, and was it a long-lasting success?!?

Liza is a self-proclaimed #wordnerd who loves getting sucked into whimsical novels and epic movies, frequently flying under the coolness radar with her laid-back, practical attitude towards life. A foodie at heart, Liza relishes the chance to both cook and eat. (She's not picky.) She’s on the hunt for the perfect mojito, inspiration for a third tattoo, and world peace. You can also find Liza sharpening her knives over at (a)Musing Foodie.

Comments (40)

  • Stacy Decossas

    It’s terrible. By day two or three ku tips are chipping. I’m not doing anything crazy like mining for coal with my hands. I wish it worked.

    • Rita Braddock

      I had the same problem. Gonna use it one more time. Maybe I put it on to thick. If it chips again, back to the store it goes!!!!

      • Lucy S

        I have tried this three times and after the first day I noticed chips like ive never seen before with regular polish/topcoat!
        Why me????

  • Lee Keech

    Mine is like paint on plastic. It looks good, but if you scrape your nail it comes right off. I wish I’d read reviews or something before I spent $20..

  • Samantha

    Just bought it last night and applied it at 7am this morning on my nails and toe nails before my job interview at 9. I let dry between each coat and let the top coat dry an hour before I put shoes on. Went to my interview 9, grabbed a few groceries on the way home and at 12:00, immediately after I carried the groceries in, I noticed massive smudges and lines in all of my nails that were not there on my ride home. Took my shoes off and they’re all smudged too. I’m incredibly disappointed and pretty annoyed. You’d think they’d be pretty solid 4-5hrs later.

  • Staci

    I’m also frustrated with this polish. “Let dry 5 minutes in between coats,” say the directions on the bottle…. 5 minutes is nearly not long enough. It seems like I need to wait 60 minutes in between each base coat!

    I was also hoping for a cheaper gel option to do at home without having to go to the salon or get a gel UV lamp. I’m so disappointed. I might just break down a buy a lamp. They’re only about $30 on Amazon and my nails will cure in 10 minutes with all three coats so… worth it!

    • Carrie

      I also have had the same problem and I have a lamp tried it two times it doesn’t help . I’m taking it back to the store .. too bad I really like the color but can’t spend money on stuff that don’t work!!

  • Paula

    Enjoyed this post. Thank You!!
    Does anyone know how to thin the new miracle gel?

    • Suzy

      I would like to know this also. My topcoat has gotten thick. Any ideas anyone? Love the miracle gel… lasts me 7-10 days without chipping. After removing polish, I wash nails with soap & water, dry, swipe with cotton ball moistened with a alcohol, apply 2 coats of color, 1 topcoat.

  • Katherine Brown

    It’s so strange to me to read about people having trouble with, and not liking, this polish. I love it, and I rarely even use the top coat. I do a semi- thick coat, wait a 2-3 minutes (I’m impatient, so I quickly found out that I don’t need 5), add another coat, then I actually give it about 5, then I’m careful for about another 10 minutes (which is about the amount of time it takes me to forget to be careful), and then I’m good to go for about a week before having to do some minor touch-ups.
    I’m am active, outdoorsy person who can destroy a professional manicure in half a day, but it’s rare for me to get a chip before 5 days when I’m wearing this polish.
    I wonder if the color might have something to do with it?

  • Rhonda

    I have the same problem and I’ve tried thinner coats and more air time between coats and still no good through dry experience. Also what I hate is the pin holes you see about 45 min after you put the gel coat on top so your finish look is flawed with pinholes and peeling off.

  • Carmen

    I’ve tried waiting several minutes in between coats, tried swiping my nails with rubbing alcohol before painting, and let them dry a full hour after applying the top coat. Unfortunately, I keep having the same issue, the polish won’t fully dry. I end of with dings and impressions from my blanket (usually paint my nails a few hours before I go to bed). It’s like the outer layer will dry but the inner layers are still tacky. Very frustrating!!!

    • Heidi

      I’ve been having same issues. Very frustrating. It takes for we to fully harden and by the time it is I Have all kinds dents, lines and even the whole nail slid and wrinkled up like a blanket. And I’ve waited a few hours before going to bed to be sure it wouldn’t. Nothing helps. Going back to regular polish!

  • Anne Marie Slva

    If u put it on thin & ur nails r long they will bend. If I put it on 2 thick it will take ur nail with it if Iu peel it off. My nails were so nice now their a mess . Never again.

  • Linda

    Just received 5 colors and top coat. Tried first one today. Let me say, while it was 30 years ago, I owned my own nail salon. So I know how to apply polish accordingly. The brush in this bottles is terrible-too flat. You have to brush it on barely touching your nail so color goes on consistently otherwise you can see you bare nail in spots. Hard to work with, can’t get my edges without pooling the polish. Two coats and when I hold hand up to light can see through my nails. Ordered on amazon and sending all the colors I didn’t use back!!! Don’t recommend. Happy It was a gift card I used to order and didn’t waste my own money.

  • Krissy

    I use acetone remover to coat my fingertips with Vaseline before removing polish to prevent drying. The acetone removes the Vaseline from the nails and any residue from the previous polish really good. I apply 2-3 very thin coats of color allowing them to dry for at least 15-20 minutes. Not the directed 5. Then I apply a very thin coat of clear -daily- until I change the polish. My theory, and this is relevant to all types of nail polish is that clear coat protects the color. It takes a few days to chip through that, once you do you’ll start to see the color chip. So I freshen the clear coat and avoid the color chipping. Each coat also provides an extra layer of protection to your nails to minimize breaking. After about a week the polish starts to look too thick so I take it off and start over.

  • sprawdź

    That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Short but very precise info… Thanks for sharing this one. A must read post.

  • Doreen Ronnenbergh

    I have bought the Miracle Gel step 1 and 2. As soon as I put on step 2 it bubbles is rough and looks awful. It doesn’t matter how long I wait between each step that’s what happens. Advice please. If I bought it at Dischem can I take it back.

  • Jennifer Jabe

    I recently received a “step 1” color for Christmas without been given a “step 2” top coat. I thought they MUST be used together in order for it to work/cure. So I went out and bought the 9.99 top coat. I applied 2 coats of color and 2 coats of top. Turned out pretty. BUT I am a FIRM believer in the “real” gel manicure. Invested about $40 in a lamp off Amazon and some colors and base & top. Wow! It has become my favorite pastime, doing my nails. Soooo worth the investment. Do it tight and they look beautiful for days. I’m choosing my uv nail lamp and gel polishes ANY day over the Sally hansen miracle gel. HOWEVER, real gel nails/uv light nails, are very time consuming to remove. SO, the SH option is better for quick removal. Hope this helps. Thanks!

  • Jill Petrosky

    I am really tough on my nails and very rarely have them done or do them myself. I have found this polish to last overba week with minimal chipping. Only thing is that it takes longer than 5 minutes between coats. Not sure how long exactly, but I will time it next time I do my nails…which could be awhile

  • M

    I also love Sally Hansen, but it seems they have discontinued the line of Complete Salon Manicure. Anyone know about this? So disappointed b/c that stuff was awesome!

  • Maria San Juan

    I’m relieved I’m reading all these posts here. I thought I’m the only person on the planet who used Sally Miracle Gel polish and doesn’t last long even just for 5 days. Followed the instructions carefully and It started chipping off within 3 days on me. Bought 3 different shades plus the topcoat. So disappointed. I wasted my money

  • Marcia

    I use Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Step 1…2 coats most of the time, no base coat, and top coat with Seche Vite. Dries rock hard in 1 minutes and lasts almost 2 weeks. I am looking for info on how to thin the polish after it gets so thick.

    • Robyn

      You can use a few drops of acetone put in the bottle. That works with any polish!
      I’ve been able to keep some of my favorite polishes much longer.

  • Andrea Campbell

    I just tried this for the first time today. I too, was so looking for a nice at home easy gel. Sally Hansen is my go-to polish. I let it dry for 10 mins inbetween and when I applied the top coat it took the nail polish off. Ugh!

  • Dee

    One thing I do maybe some aren’t…..shake the heck out of the polish first, then let it sit and settle down for a bit. I know when I use regular paint (I’ve painted a lot) and don’t mix properly it never dries, or takes forever because the solids settle and blah, blah. I know, 2 COMPLETELY different products and formulas. But, mine dries quickly after 2 color coats and 1 pretty thick top coat. Lasts a good 7 days.

  • Kay Welch

    Purchased the gel polish;it streaked when I put it on my nails.Applied a second coat which made it even worse. did not expect that and tried base coat which did not help.Wont buy it again

  • Ruthie

    I used two coats of step 1 Smartease and 1 coat of #101 top coat. I waited about 30 minutes in between each coat and then about an hour after the topcoat I had smudges on two fingernails and all my nails are still slightly tacky and not completely dry. My friend raved about this, but I really really like the new impress press on manicure by kiss. They last about seven days no worries.

    After I read her raving review about the magic gel, I had an epiphany that I actually had some in my nail polish drawer that I had obviously tried before. I thought I would give it another go but smudges. I guess that’s what happened the first time thus the reason it was sitting in the nail polish graveyard.

  • George

    Just bought came home did my nails. Wish I had read the reviews before I bought.
    Dries rough not a nice smooth look or feel

  • Jane Greer

    I love Sally Hansen Gel Polish. Never could grown nails past the end of my fk get. All nails are now the same length and a nice sporty short length. I paint two coats with five minute dry time between each coat. I then apply a generous top coat (using the SH gel top coat). It dried to the touch in less than 5 minutes, but I wouldn’t go digging around in my purse for probably an hour. I paint my nails when I have the time to let them cure. I apply a fresh color coat and top coat about every other day. The polish evens out nicely and I can go for over a week without removing and starting over.

  • Alexandra

    Recently used SH Hard as Nails (one coat) with the Step 2 gel top coat. Lasted better than other combos I’ve tried so far!

    (In my very limited experience…)

  • Everett

    Pro tip: the top coat is the active ingredient, so I’ve used dollar store nail polish and just added the top coat once it’s dry for the same effect and durability. Also, I put one coat of the activator, then let it set for 20min, then put another coat and let it set again, then am careful w my nails for the day (I try to do them before bed) they look perfect for minimum a week, and probably longer I just end up pulling off the fake nails (I put blank ones on then paint them, and usually pry them after max a week). The only thing I’ve noticed is they’ll scuff, so I’ll have a white mark from hitting something by accident, but the polish is unmoved. The top coat is expensive, but considering it makes any polish look and feel like gel it’s worth it (you just have to leave the regular polish 10min before the top coat, and be careful after as regular polish takes hours to fully dry sometimes so it’ll squish, like you can move the entire nail)

    Ps. I’m a chronic nail biter and a university student, this polish allows me to not bite them, and withstands my “rough typing” constantly.

  • L. Lewis

    Anybody have trouble with nails discoloring and falling off after a month or so? Other than this rather nasty effect, the 2 step miracle gel goes on great and lasts at least a week.

  • Kim

    Hey. I love this polish. Lasts me the 7-10 days! BUT I recently bought the neon pink and it was SO thin. I had to don4 coats to cover the nails. Then when I removed it my mail beds were all discoloured (look yellowish like I’ve smoked but I don’t). I did one mail blue and that mail is not discoloured. So weird. Curious if anyone else has experienced this?


Post a Comment