Cat Eye Nails. Get the Feline Look with Gel Polish

What is Cat Eye Nail Polish Gel?

Cat eye nail polish gel refers to a type of gel nail polish that creates a cat eye effect on the nails. Unlike regular nail polish, cat eye gel polish contains polymers that require curing under UV or LED lamps to set and harden on the nails (1). The technology behind gel nail polish allows it to last on the nails for up to 3 weeks without chipping or peeling (2).

cat eye gel polish bottles
Cat eye gel polish contains special pigments that shift and reflect light, creating an eye-catching finish that resembles a cat’s eye. When the nails are moved, the polish appears to change color and shimmer. This is what sets cat eye gel polish apart from regular nail polish. Regular polish does not contain the polymers for extended wear and cannot achieve the unique cat eye effect.

The main benefits of cat eye gel polish over regular nail polish include longer wear, increased shine and durability, chip-free nails for up to 3 weeks, and the eye-catching cat eye design effect. The polymers allow the polish to adhere to the nails better than regular polish. Overall, cat eye gel provides a longer-lasting manicure with a stunning finish.




History and Origins

Cat eye gel polish first emerged in the early 2010s as nail art salons started experimenting with new techniques to create embellished nail looks. The cat eye effect became popular thanks to innovations in gel polish, which allowed for a more durable and vibrant finish compared to traditional nail polish. Gel polish technology enabled the precise application and curing needed to create the signature shimmering cat eye line.

Some of the first cat eye gel polishes were introduced around 2011 by leading gel brands like Gelish and Bio Seaweed Gel. These polishes came in limited-edition collections and innovative multi-chrome shimmers that reflected light to create a brilliant cat eye shine when applied with special tools. The new technology captured attention on social media and demand grew rapidly. More brands soon launched their own unique cat eye gels.[1]

By the mid 2010s, cat eye gel manicures were a full-blown nail art trend offered at most salons. Nail artists popularized distinctive cat eye designs and color combinations. The cat eye technique modernized classic French tip manicures with its hint of glam and edge. Today cat eye gel remains a staple nail service reimagined each season in new ways.

How to Apply Cat Eye Gel Polish

Applying cat eye gel polish requires some precision but gets easier with practice. Here is a step-by-step process for achieving the perfect cat eye manicure at home:

applying cat eye nail design

Prep the Nails

Start by filing and buffing nails to ensure the surface is smooth. Push back and trim cuticles if needed. Cleanse nails with nail prep/dehydrator solution.

Base Coat

Apply a thin layer of gel base coat on each nail and cure in an LED or UV lamp for 30-60 seconds until set.

Cat Eye Design

Using a thin nail art brush, draw a “swoosh” line across each nail near the tip. Make the shape slim and elongated. Cure for 30 seconds. Then fill in one side of the line with your chosen gel polish color and cure again.

Top Coat

Finish with a glossy gel top coat over the entire nail and cure finally for 60 seconds. The cat eye design should shine.


Work on one hand at a time so the polish doesn’t smudge. Keep tissues or a sticky lint roller nearby to quickly fix mistakes. Consider using nail forms for easier application.

Common Mistakes

Applying too thick of a base coat or too many layers of color can cause chipping or lifting. Rushing the application and not curing between steps properly can lead to smearing. Letting the free edge of the “swoosh” line be too thick looks messy.

Cat Eye Gel Polish Looks and Designs

Cat eye gel polish offers endless creative possibilities when it comes to nail art designs. Some of the most popular looks include:

Ombre Cat Eye – This gradient look transitions from dark on the tips to light towards the cuticle for a faded cat eye effect. Often done in shades like deep purple, blue or black ombre into a lighter color.

Colorful Cat Eye – Using bright shades like neon pink, blue or yellow can create a fun, vibrant cat eye manicure. Color variations include using two contrasting bright colors or doing a color transition.

Glitter Cat Eye – Adding glitter, shimmer or iridescence to cat eye nails amps up the drama and sparkle. From subtle chromes to chunky glitter, shine takes this look to the next level.

Negative Space Cat Eye – Using nail art tape or manual precision, the cat eye shape is created with negative space, revealing the natural nail underneath for graphic contrast.

Geometric Cat Eye – Straight lines and sharp angles transform the cat eye into geometric works of nail art. Chevrons, triangles and stripes overlay the curved cat eye shape.

Embellished Cat Eye – Rhinestones, pearls, foil and more can be added as accents atop cat eye gel polish. 3D flowers, bows and other nail charms complement the cat eye shape.

Cat eye nail designs have evolved a great deal since the early 2000s. While the classic curved shape remains popular, modern iterations incorporate trends like neon shades, chrome, and abstract art. Social media allows nail artists to share their unique cat eye creations.

Maintenance and Removal

Cat eye gel nail polish typically lasts 2-3 weeks on natural nails, while it can last 3-4 weeks on acrylic or other artificial nails. Proper application and curing of the gel polish will help it adhere better and extend wear time. One major benefit of cat eye gel polish versus regular polish is its durability- it resists chips, cracks, and smudges.

When it’s time for removal, you’ll need to soak the gel polish off rather than simply peeling or buffing it away. Gel polish is adhered very strongly to the natural nail using UV or LED light. Soaking cotton balls or nail pads in pure acetone is the most effective method of breaking down the polymers in the gel polish so it can be gently wiped or scraped away. Let the acetone-soaked pads sit on each nail for 10-15 minutes to fully dissolve the gel. Check the progress often and don’t force or peel – the gel should lift off once ready. Be very gentle during removal to avoid excessive stress on the natural nail.

removing gel polish from nails

After soaking off gel polish, it’s important to moisturize the nails and cuticles. The acetone can cause dryness and damage if left untreated. Apply a hydrating oil or treatment cream, and avoid buffing the bare nail surface unless necessary, as this can thin the nails over time. Give nails a day or two breathe before starting a new manicure. Proper gel polish removal and aftercare will help maintain strong, healthy nails. For more tips, check out this guide:

Pros and Cons of Cat Eye Gel Polish

Cat eye gel polish offers several benefits compared to traditional nail polish:

The cat eye effect is very striking and eye-catching. The refractive and holographic sheen makes nails look like they have built-in jewelry (Vettsy, 2023).

Cat eye gels are long-lasting, with some formulas claiming to last 2-3 weeks without chipping or fading. This is much longer than traditional polish that may start chipping after just a few days (JPost, 2023).

Applying cat eye gel requires using a UV or LED lamp to cure each coat. This helps the polish adhere better to the nail and creates a more durable finish.

There are some downsides to consider with cat eye gel polish:

It usually costs more than traditional polish since you pay for a salon service. DIY kits can save money but require purchasing a lamp and supplies.

Removal is more difficult, requiring soaking cotton pads in pure acetone based remover for 10-15 minutes per nail (Vettsy, 2023).

The dark colors and glitter can stain the natural nails, especially if not applied and removed properly.

Overall, cat eye gel offers a gorgeous, long-lasting manicure for special events and occasions. It requires more time and money compared to regular polish that can easily be reapplied at home.


Cat eye gel manicures can range in price depending on where you get them done. At a luxury nail salon in a major city, expect to pay $50-80 for a cat eye gel manicure. At a neighborhood nail salon, costs are usually $30-50. DIY cat eye gel polish kits range from $25-60 depending on the brand and number of polishes included.

Here are some factors that affect the costs of cat eye gel manicures:

  • Salon location – Major cities and upscale areas charge more
  • Experience of the nail technician – More experienced techs often charge more
  • Complexity of the design – More intricate looks take more time and skill
  • Quality of gel polish products used – Salon brands like OPI cost more than drugstore kits
  • Amount of polish needed – More polishes used means higher product costs
  • Extra services like art or rhinestones – These add-ons increase the price

With regular maintenance and at-home touch-ups between salon visits, cat eye gel manicures can be an affordable luxury. Price shouldn’t be the only consideration – make sure your nail tech has expertise in the intricate cat eye look you want.

Safety Considerations

Cat eye gel polish is generally considered safe when used properly, but there are some safety factors to keep in mind:

Ingredient safety – Most major brands use chemicals and pigments approved for nail use. However, some cheaper brands may contain harmful ingredients like formaldehyde, so it’s important to buy from reputable sellers. According to Vettsy, their cat eye gels use only 5-free, 10-free or 11-free formulas that are free from harmful ingredients (source).

UV radiation risks – Cat eye gel polish requires curing under UV lamps, which can expose skin to UV rays. To minimize risk, apply sunscreen to hands before curing and avoid over-curing. Salon lamps are safer than home kits (source).

Allergies or skin sensitivities – Some individuals may be allergic to gel polish ingredients. Do a patch test before fully applying. Avoid cat eye gel if you have any reaction or skin discomfort.

Proper usage and removal – Follow all brand instructions carefully and avoid overfiling nails during removal, which can thin and damage nails. Use foil wraps instead of soaking off gels to protect nail health (source).

Cat Eye Gel Polish Brands

When it comes to cat eye gel polish, there are a few notable brands that stand out for their quality products and innovative collections:

Vettsy offers a premium cat eye gel polish line made with a unique formula for unparalleled quality and eye-catching effects. Their selection includes trending holographic and color-shifting finishes.

cat eye gel polish swatches

Madam Glam has an extensive cat eye gel polish collection with popular looks like holographic, magnetic effects, and stylish color combinations. They frequently add new and on-trend colors.

Reddit users recommend Kokoist! F Gel for beautiful cat eye gel polishes in a variety of shades and finishes. The magnetic powders from Ageha are also popular for DIY cat eye effects.

As cat eye nail art continues trending, more brands are expanding their offerings with innovative formulas, textures, and colors. Staying up-to-date on the latest collections can help you find your ideal cat eye polish.

Finding Ideal Styles and Colors

When choosing cat eye nail polish, it’s important to select colors and designs that complement your skin tone. Darker skin tones can pull off bold, vibrant shades like electric blue or fuchsia cat eyes, while lighter skin looks great with softer hues like pale pink or peach [Source]( Metallic chromes and shimmers also accentuate melanin beautifully.

Consider seasonal trends when selecting cat eye colors too. Pastels and neons for spring, rich wines and burgundies in fall. In summer, go for bright citrus shades or ocean blues and greens. For winter, try frosted silvers, whites and grays.

Match your cat eye manicure to special events or outfits. Red and green cat eyes for Christmas parties, pink for weddings or valentine’s day. Complement an all black outfit with sleek white or silver cat eyes. Let your nails be the pop of color in a neutral ensemble.

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