P1030377 - Version 2

Black gel polish comparison



Hello dear readers,

Ever since I started using gel polish a couple of years ago I have been in search for the perfect black cream. I have 8 brands 7 of which I will feature in this post. The 8th, Gelez Pitch Black turned into a gross, blobby mess in the bottle and is unusable. My perfect black would be opaque in 1-2 coats, have little to zero shrink back, and would not wrinkle. I will show you that not all blacks are true blacks and not all are completely opaque in 1 coat. I have swatched 1 coat on a clear stick to show how the colors can have brown, blue or grey undertones. Please see the accompanying video for 2 coat results.

The first sample is Gelish Black Shadow. Of the 7 this is by far the thinnest, least pigmented black. I had to shake it to within an inch of it’s life to get the gel and pigment incorporated. It has brown undertone and is very sheer in 1 coat. This black has terrible shrink back and is my least favorite. I will say this was one of my gel polish purchases about 2 years ago and since then Gelish may have changed their formula but this particular bottle is just not worth the hassle :(.


The next swatch is Ink Blackout. This has a definite blue undertone and is quite sheer in one coat. There is also a shimmer which I have been told was a factory mistake and subsequent batches are pure creams. the Ink brand has terrific soak-offs, about 5 minutes and usually comes off in one sheet.


The next pic is Orly Liquid Vinyl. This is a true black, slightly more opaque than the first two. My experience with the Orly gels has not been very good, I have horrible soak-offs which take up to 30 minutes to come off. Keep in mind this my experience, yours might be different.


The next brand is Red Carpet Manicure Black Stretch Limo. This color leans a little brown and is somewhat sheer with one coat. Application is nice with very little shrink back. 


This next one is Couture Little Black Dress and it’s more of a true black and more opaque than the previous ones. I did experience some shrink back with this brand but wiping the tacky seemed to help. Soak-offs are breeze with this product.


Next up is Gel II Midnight Black, this is a true black and much more opaque in one coat than the others. My first bottle applied great with very little shrink back but a new bottle had major shrink back issues, they may have changed their formula or I could have gotten a bad bottle. Because the base coat is already incorporated into the polish I have experienced lengthy soak-offs with Gel II, if you’re looking for a polish that will last a good 2-3 weeks this is a great option. Formula is a bit on the thick side and I had to keep shaking my bottle to make it easier to apply.


And now we arrive at my absolute favorite black, LeChat Black Velvet. This is the most pigmented black I’ve seen so far and as a result is opaque in one coat. The LeChat formula is fantastic, slightly thicker than the others but still easy to handle. A light hand is recommended, because this is so pigmented if the coats are too thick they will wrinkle. I have zero shrink back with this color and it wears great and soak-offs are a normal 10-15 minutes. I can’t recommend this brand enough.


So there you have it. I hope this has been helpful to those still searching for the perfect black. I’ve found mine, I’d love to hear from you if you find yours!


11 comments on “Black gel polish comparison

  1. cindykvfc@yahoo.com

    Not having tried the Le Chat black, I can’t speak to it, but I’ve LOVED the Couture. I’ve tried two blacks – EZFlow TruGel & Entity1. EZFlow TruGel would be a true black, but it took three coats to get there. I don’t have anything nice to say about the latter. :) So glad you’ve found a winner and really enjoyed your blog!

    1. Kim

      I really like the Couture too especially the easy soak off but so far no one has come close to LeChat in opaqueness. I really love the LeChat formula too and it’s a bonus that the Perfect Match duos come with a matching regular nail polish. Almost all my TruGels require 3-4 coats to be opaque, I can’t stand that many coats on my nails.

      I’m happy to hear you enjoy the blog!

  2. Krista H

    Have you tried FingerPaints Black Canvas? I didn’t find much shrink back with it as i did with their Rococo Orange. The wrinkling was horrible. The LeChat, can you get it without a license?

    PS got my CND, working beautifully!! Thanks for that fix tutorial!

    1. Kim

      Hi Krista,

      I don’t have the best of luck with the FP gels…I got the light blue (can’t remember the name) and had the worst ‘pitting’ effect, and I wasn’t the one, several ladies in a FB group experienced the same thing. One of their reds did the same thing, so I haven’t tried any more of their colors.

      You can find the LeChat’s online and I’ve never been asked for a license. I have a local nail supply place that has them for $10 and they don’t ask me for a license (although the sign in their window says they require one on all purchases, they don’t care, money is money, lol). Check around your area to see if you one, they will probably have the cheapest prices than even online.

      Glad to hear the CND powder is working for you!

  3. Jamilyn

    Unbelievably thorough video…thanks for all your hard work. Do you have a theory on why some bottles/brands have shrinking? Are you experiencing the shrinking before you cure it? I have been using Gelish since 2010 and have noticed it getting much worse in the last year or so.

    1. Kim

      Hi Jamilyn,

      I believe it’s two issues, the pigment to gel ratio and the viscosity of the gel. What I saw in my blacks was the least pigmented tended to shrink more and the the thinnest gels definitely had more shrink back. That’s why the LeChat’s are so nice, the formula is thicker and more pigmented than most other brands.

      Gelish can be hit or miss with the way they apply…example, You Glare I Glow was a horrible application, terrible shrink back and streakiness and it became thick and goopy, I had to keep shaking the bottle to keep it workable, but Up in the Blue applies perfectly, smooth coats, no streakiness, no shrink back , I don’t know if it has to do with the pigments used or the gel itself…If weren’t for the fact that Gelish wears so well, I would probably not purchase anymore. Why fight with horrible applications when there are other brands that consistently have a better application?

  4. Tina Young

    Hi Kim

    I have just ordered my first Le Chat perfect match colour but I think I may have made a mistake. When I checked on their website it says that I need a 36w uv lamp but I have a Sensationail LED lamp and I’m worried it’s not going to cure under my lamp.

    Which do you cure yours with?

    Thanks and keep up with the amazing mani’s!!

    1. Kimberly Clements Bellew

      It cures fantastic under led! (I’m a nail tech and use this brand often)

  5. Pingback: Best black gel polish? - Salon Geek

  6. Christine

    My bottle of Black Velvet from LeChat is horrible. After shaking like crazy, 4 coats and I can still see through it in places, and the shrink back before curing is infuriating. Do I maybe have a crappy bottle, or am I missing something? I came here looking to find a different one in your #1 slot haha

    1. Kim

      I think you definitely got a bad bottle…I’m on a 3rd bottle and it’s still my fave black. Check with the seller and see if they will refund or exchange for you.