Gelish pioneered brush-in-bottle gel polish and has become a worldwide staple in professional nail salon settings. While we want a gorgeous mani and Pedi, we also want ours to be cruelty-free and vegan.

Gelish is cruelty-free but not 100% vegan, meaning some products contain animal-derived ingredients. It does not conduct animal testing on its products or distribute cosmetics where animal testing is required by law.

Danny Haile isn’t your run-of-the-mill nail technician; he’s won over 75 international awards in nail competitions.  

But this overachiever’s real passion is in creating new solutions. In 2009, he reworked the gel polish system to create a soak-on/ soak-off system. The revolutionary product did not need mixing, was quicker to apply and remove, and was long-lasting with no chips or peeling.

Let’s dive deeper into if Gelish is ethical and kind. Can you trust the cruelty-free and vegan policies of this brand? And what happens to all those foils after a soak-off, and how does that affect our planet?

Gelish Ethical Overview

Cruelty-free: Yes

Vegan: No (but Gelish does have vegan options)

Clean ingredients: No

Sustainable & Ethical: Minimal efforts

Mica Mining Policy: Undetermined

RSPO Palm Oil Certified: Undetermined

Gelish is 100% Cruelty-Free

Test any of its products or ingredients on animals


Purchase any ingredients tested on animals within its supply chain


Distribute its products to any countries that require animal testing by law.


Hand & Nail Harmony is the umbrella company founder Haile opened before Gelish was developed and launched.

Hand & Nail Harmony does not have any known association with animal testing. 

Does Gelish Test on Animals?

Gelish has been committed to creating high-quality, durable gel polishes that are also cruelty-free. This has been its intention since it was founded.

What Is Gelish’s Cruelty-Free Status in 2022?

Here is a screenshot of Gelish’s official statement regarding its cruelty-free policies and vegan products, taken from its website:

Gelish is PETA Certified

This is a great start. 

Certification from Leaping Bunny is ideal – even more so than PETA – because it holds rigorous standards and does regular audits to ensure they are upheld.

Leaping Bunny certification proves that:

  • No animal testing is conducted on the ingredients, formulas, or final products they sell.
  • No animal testing is conducted by the brand suppliers or on their ingredients or formulas.
  • No animal testing is done by someone else that the company itself paid for.

  • Any other form of testing (beyond ingredient and consumer safety), such as worker safety and environmental health, is considered and evaluated.

Is Gelish Sold Where Animal Testing is Required By Law?

Gelish does not distribute any of its products to China or any country that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law.

China has a shocking track record. It is the country with the most animal testing globally, with over 20 million animals used per year.

However, if you live in China or are concerned about its cruel beauty policies, there are a couple of loopholes.

Here's how to find cruelty-free cosmetics in China: Are Cosmetics Made in China Cruelty-Free?

Gelish is Not Vegan

Although the brand is not entirely vegan, Gelish has a product line that is vegan.

Gelish doesn’t include ingredient lists online, so we don’t know which ingredients make the rest of their products non-vegan.

Some of the most commonly used animal-derived ingredients  used in the beauty industry are honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, squalane, carmine

What Gelish Products Are Vegan?

If you love Gelish’s products but want to support its vegan ranges – we’ve got your back.

To save you some time, here are some of Gelish’s most popular and award-winning products from its PolyGel range:

  • PolyGel Nail Enhancement
  • PolyGel Slip Solution
  • PolyGel Trial Kit
  • PolyTool

  • Poly Tube Key.

Unfortunately, Gelish does not have a dedicated page for its vegan products.

However, you can email customer service, and they will send you an extensive list of exactly what you want to know.

Vegan Alternatives to Gelish


price range

100% vegan


$20 - $35



$10 - $25


Leaping Bunny

Sienna Byron Bay

$20 - $35


PETA, Leaping Bunny

Kester Black

$20 - $60


Cruelty Free International

$20 - $50


Leaping Bunny

Gelish is Not Considered Natural, or Organic

Gelish claims to use safe and effective ingredients.
Its whole ethos is to make clean formulas and products that anyone can use.

All products use a certain amount of synthetic ingredients in their formulas. Gelish is no exception – but it does choose to use better or clean synthetics.

If a synthetic ingredient is "clean," it means it is safe and non-toxic for us. Its purpose is to preserve the stability of a beauty formulation.

Gelish’s Allergen-Free Ranking

Skin Safe does not have any Gelish products listed or ranked. So, what do we know about Gelish and its safety for allergen sufferers?  

The Gelish website does not offer any allergy information. Acetone is used to soak-off gel polish, so anyone with an acetone allergy needs to avoid gel manicures and pedicures.

Gel polish allergies are rare but do exist. They result in contact dermatitis, a red, bumpy, itchy rash around the eyes, mouth, face, or anywhere we frequently touch throughout the day.

It’s most likely an allergy to methyl acetate, nitrocellulose, or one of the numerous dyes used in gel polish.

This can show up between 48 hours and months after a gel-polish treatment. 

Suspect you have an allergy to gel polish? To treat it

  • Remove your mani or Pedi immediately
  • Apply an over-the-counter cortisol cream to the affected areas.
  • If symptoms don’t subside, see a dermatologist.
  • Opt for different nail color alternatives 

Reading the ingredient list is crucial because Gelish is not 100% hypoallergenic or non-comedogenic, and they do not claim to be.

However, certain products are specifically for these concerns, so make sure you buy what your skin needs. 

The EU/UK Have Stricter Ingredient Regulations

We don’t want to scare you, but you HAVE to read up on any product’s ingredient list before you make a purchase – especially if you live within the United States. The reason why will shock you.

The FDA has only banned or restricted 11 harmful chemicals from cosmetics within the country. Europe and the UK, on the other hand, have banned 1,328!

Luckily, Gelish sets a great example of what safe nail care is meant to be, and you shouldn’t have to worry about any serious hidden nasties in its products.

But it’s still worth knowing that with nail colors, you want to avoid these ingredients:

  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Formaldehyde and formaldehyde resin
  • Toluene
  • Xylene
  • Camphor
  • Triphenylphosphate (TPHP)
  • Colophionium
  • Silicone
  • Organic Halides (AOX)

Gelish Has Some Sustainable & Ethical Initiatives

Gelish does not mention any sustainability and ethical initiatives on their website. We also checked their Instagram but found a mix of nail art inspiration with brand collections and tutorials.

Gelish does not this state this, but gel polish is not degradable in any way.

The waste from gel-polish soak-off is considered hazardous to the environment because it's flammable and toxic. 


Final Thoughts

While Gelish is cruelty-free, we’d love to see them get certification from other reputable organizations. 

Having one product line that’s vegan is a start, but it does limit nail art options for vegans. Not to mention the complete lack of ingredient listings means we don’t know what animal by-products Gelish IS using. 

With no information about any ethical or sustainability initiatives, Gelish isn’t the ideal brand for activists who go the extra mile. 

Sadly, we can’t see these issues changing in the future. Gelish brand doesn’t seem responsive to queries- or any feedback that isn’t positive. 

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