Essie Sheer Fantasy vs. Fairy Tailor

Whenever I think I’ve found the perfect sheer pink nail polish, Essie unleashes a new line with a better formula and colors.

I was a fan of their best-selling shade ballet slippers back in the day. So when they launched their long-wear gel couture line, I had to find the perfect sheer pink close to ballet slippers.

I tried out a few sheer polishes, and Essie Sheer Fantasy and Fairy Tailor are the only shades close to that perfect ballerina pink. So I will show you a few swatches of each and then give you a detailed feature comparison.

Let’s begin!

Essie Sheer Fantasy

Essie Sheer fantasy is a pale pink polish with slight milky undertones. True to its name, this nail varnish has a sheer design that lets the white parts of your nails show through, even at three coats. It is the best sheer polish to create a clean, understated, elegant manicure.

This nail polish is insanely shiny, probably even shinier than any sheer polish I’ve ever worn. However, It is still versatile and makes a great base layer for french manicures and nail art. I even layer it over other bolder Essie gel couture colors to create fun customized colors.

Like most pink neutrals, you can wear Essie sheer fantasy no matter the occasion. It is subtle enough for formal settings, or you can wear it with boldly patterned clothes to keep attention on the outfit instead of your fingers.

Essie Fairy Tailor

Essie Fairy Tailor is a light pink nail polish with milky beige undertones. I wear it more than sheer fantasy because it gives me that pretty pink hue similar to the beautiful Essie ballet slippers.

I use three coats of Essie Fairy Tailor to achieve that perfect milky manicure. However, I noticed that the polish’s coverage increases as you add more coats.

Therefore, sometimes I stop at two coats to keep my nail line more visible. Don’t get me wrong. You will still see your nail line with three coats, but it will be hazier than you see with two coats.

Essie Fairy Tailor is the perfect shade to wear when taking a break from more vibrant and design-forward manicures. However, sometimes I like to liven it up with simple nail art or glitter polish. This shade also makes a pretty base for french manicures.

Difference Between Essie Sheer Fantasy and Fairy Tailor?


Essie Sheer Fantasy and Fairy Tailor are nude pink nail polishes with a sheer finish. However, Essie Fairy Tailor has a slight beige undertone, making it look more neutral.

The beige hue is not noticeable with one coat, but you’ll see it becoming more intense as you put on more layers.

In contrast, Essie Sheer Fantasy is a softer light pink color that looks a little like the popular Essie Mademoiselle.

However, it has slight white tones that make it look milky on the nail bed but not overwhelming enough to make it white-washed.

Number of Coats

The number of coats you use for each shade will determine the intensity of the color and sheerness of the polish.

The standard number of coats you need is three, although you can apply more or fewer layers depending on your preference.

At 2 coats:

The light pink hue of Essie Sheer Fantasy is visible, and the milky tones start to show through. The nail polish is still entirely see-through, giving the most natural-looking manicure.

In contrast, the beige tones of Essie’s Fairy Tailor make it more visible on the nail. Although the manicure is still sheer at this stage, it gives more coverage than sheer fantasy.

At 3 coats:

You achieve the color you see through each nail polish bottle. However, some people may need up to four coats to make the color pop depending on their skin tone. (I’ll talk more about skin tone in the next point.

Regarding sheerness, Essie Sheer fantasy is a true sheer, remaining perfectly see-through. You can add a fourth coat to make the light pink color more obvious, but it won’t alter the coverage of the polish.

In contrast, Fairy Tailor offers more coverage at three coats, although you can still see your nail line through the manicure. I know some people don’t like it when their nail line peeks through a manicure. So, I recommend applying a fourth coat to make Essie Fairy Tailor more opaque.

Skin Tone

Essie Sheer Fantasy and Fairy Tailor are nude pinks and look gorgeous on all skin tones. However, the beige tones of Fairy Tailor make it a warmer pink than sheer fantasy, and therefore it looks better on paler or medium skin tones.

In contrast, Essie Sheer Fantasy is a cooler pink shade that looks amazing on medium to darker skin tones.

Ease of Application

These nail polishes are from the Essie gel couture line, a more improved formula than their original nail polishes. The formula is designed to self-level; therefore, it doesn’t streak during application.

In addition, Essie gel couture nail polishes come with a larger brush, making the nail varnish easier to spread. 

Dry Time

These nail polishes need at least 10 minutes for each coat to dry. However, you might wait up to 20 minutes if you’re doing the manicure in a cold or humid environment.

The polish will be dry to the touch within the hour, but it will remain tacky underneath. So, stick to light duties for at least 2-3 hours after you use these Essie polishes to avoid smudging them.


Essie Sheer Fantasy and Fairy Tailor are part of Essie’s gel couture line. Therefore, they offer up to 14 days of wear, provided you wear a gel couture top coat.

However, the duration depends on how much or hard you use your hands. The more you use your hands, the quicker the manicure will chip.

Original Essie Nail Polish VS Essie Gel Couture

The original Essie nail polishes are just like any other standard nail varnish. You must start with a base coat to make the color adhere and prevent it from staining the nail.

Moreover, you must use at least three coats of color to make the manicure vibrant and seal it with a top coat to give it a little shine.

Essie original polishes only last about one week, although you can squeeze in a few more days if you seal it with an Essie gel setter top coat. You can easily identify the originals by their packaging – a square glass bottle with the brand name ingrained on two sides.

In contrast, Essie Gel couture is the brand’s long-wear polish system. It is called “gel” to indicate its high shine and long wear qualities, which we usually attribute to traditional gel manicures. However, gel couture is not a typical salon gel and therefore does not require UV light to cure.

The best thing about Essie gel couture is that you don’t need a base coat to help the color stick to the nail.

Moreover, Essie formulated the pigments of these polishes to help avoid staining – even more reason to skip the basecoat. Nevertheless, it is best to use a base coat if your nails are prone to staining.

Even though you don’t need a base coat, you need a gel couture top coat to seal the color and increase longevity. Essie says gel couture nail polishes give up to 14 days of wear.

However, I noticed that the manicure only lasts 14 days if you seal it with the top coat. If you apply the color only, you’ll get about 10 days of wear before the manicure chips.

Besides formula and longevity, Essie gel couture polishes come in cute swirly bottles, different from the original square bottles. However, they still have the brand name ingrained on the sides and the classic white Essie bottle cap.

The cherry on top for the Essie gel couture line is the wider and tapered brush that makes application easier and smoother.

If you’re like me, I’m sure the little brush of the original Essie polishes was a nuisance to use. I loved using this brush when applying Essie Sheer Fantasy and Fairy Tailor because I didn’t experience the usual streaks that come with applying sheer nail polishes.

How to Get a Perfect Manicure With Essie Gel Couture

  • Start by smoothing the nail bed using a buffing block’s fine or medium side. Afterward, wash your hands to remove buffing dust from the nail.
  • Next, roll the gel couture bottle between your palms to warm the polish and evenly distribute pigment particles throughout the nail polish. You must always take advantage of this move, especially if you haven’t used the polish for a long time.

Note: Do not shake the nail polish, trying to distribute the pigments quickly. This action will only introduce bubbles in the polish, which will transfer to the manicure. However, if you have shaken the bottle, let it sit for about an hour before applying it to the nail. This duration is enough for any bubbles formed to rise to the top and pop.

  • Apply the nail color in three quick strokes. Put a little bead of color at the center of the nail bed and then push it down toward the tip in a feather-light stroke. Repeat on the sides of the nail to cover the bare spots.
  • Wait at least 10 minutes, then apply the final coat using the same technique. You can leave the manicure as it is if you like the level of shine or add the gel couture top coat if you want it glossy.

Conclusion: Which One Should You Choose?

Essie Sheer Fantasy and Fairy Tailor are beautiful nude nail polishes. They are in the pink color family, but their tones of pink vary ever so slightly.

Essie sheer fantasy is a pale pink nail polish with white undertones, while Fairy Tailor is light pink with a more beige tone. They both have a sheer finish, but Fairy Tailor offers a little more coverage, while sheer fantasy remains fully see-through even at three coats.

Both shades offer a soft and feminine look that you can wear all year round. Therefore, pick the one that attracts you the most, or add both to your collection if you can’t choose. You can never have too many sheer pink nail polishes. 

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