Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How Do I Tell if My OPI Gelcolor is Real and Authentic or Not?

Hello again!  I received a comment before from someone who mentioned how risky it could be to buy gel polishes on Ebay rather than through a supplier or sales rep, especially since, well, how do you tell if they are the real deal or not?  I didn't think much about it at first, but then it got me thinking... how DO you identify OPIs to make sure they are real?  I know fake Gelish is pretty widespread on Ebay; some brands even call their gels "gelishes" or "gellishes" instead of "gels" or "gel polishes".  But I haven't seen many outright suspicious listings for OPI Gelcolors, at least not yet. 

That doesn't necessarily mean anything, though, since sellers can be tricky.  So I googled to find some information on how to identify OPIs, and (not surprisingly) there isn't really any information for identifying Gelcolors in particular.  But there's a lot of helpful information on identifying the regular nail polishes (RNP) that OPI makes, so I used that as a basis for figuring out identifiers for the Gelcolors.  Before I go farther, I believe all my OPI Gelcolors are real, but since I've only bought online, there is still a slight chance that they could all be FAKE, too! So you might not want to take this post as the final word, ok?

Anyway, to begin with, here are the sites I found for identifying OPI regular polishes; they're totally interesting even if you're not too much into "RNP" anymore, so I suggest you check them out!
"Comprehensive Guide On How To Spot A Fake OPI Polish" at Wonderlust Nails
"Fake OPI" at Meisie's Nails

As I've been doing, I made a correlating video on this topic as well; if you'd rather watch that it's right here:

So I'll try to to keep this post as condensed as possible (there's a lot of info to becovered). Remember to click pictures a few times to make them bigger, if need be.  Now let's get started!

  1. Look at the bottle, silly!  It's important to note that the text on OPI's RNP have changed a bit over the years, so even Gelcolor bottles may change a bit with time.  Currently, this is what the text looks like, and notice there is no stamped or engraved "lot code" on the bottle itself. The handle is white plastic with a colored shrink wrap "identifier"--this is not a "seal" to be removed!  At the top of the handle/lid, you will find "OPI" in raised lettering, as per usual with all OPI polishes. 

  2. There is a yellow, black and white sticker on the handle with a bar code and some important bold code at the top right side of the sticker.  This is the combination letter/digit identifier code. It should be five digits, two letters with a space, and then one more letter and two digits. TO MAKE SURE THIS IS REAL, GO TO OPI.com, select "try on this color", type your color into the search box, select it, and then look at the code underneath the Gelcolor inset.  Apparently this coding is the part that the fakes mess up pretty badly, strangely enough.

  3. As with the RNP bottles, there are ridges or "ribbing" in the glass at the base that catches the light differently.

  4. The bottom of the bottle is currently the only place that has the lot code stamped onto it in a different font, as you can see. The bottom sticker also has the color code repeated, as well as the color and a "peel here" sign.

  5. As with the regular polish bottles, once you peel the first layer of the bottom sticker, you should not be able to just stick it back in place.   Underneath, though, you should see a list of ingredients on the top half, and then another color code, color name, and some contact information on the bottom half.

  6. Now let's open the bottle up! The brush on the inside should be OPI's usual thick brush, with the plastic being a kind of oval shape instead of round.  At the top of the brush near the handle is OPI in raised letters.

  7. By the way, did you smell anything when you opened the bottle?  OPI Gelcolors are pretty much scentless, unless you stick your nose up close.  Some gels smell, but these babies don't!

  8. Oh, in the same picture, you can also see that the glass itself is entirely black--it is not clear glass coated with a plastic/rubber to block out the UV light as some other brands of gels like Gelish do.

  9. Inside the handle, there should be a plastic "gear" mechanism below the threading that I believes help lock and seal the handle onto the bottle.  Just like all new OPI regular polishes have!
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY! I said it in point 1, but I'm reiterating it because it's important! OPI has always changed and updated their style over the years.  For a totally cool post on how OPI has changed the text and design of their regular nail polish bottles and stickers, I recommend you check out this post at Absolutely Ainnir.

But what does this mean for Gelcolors?  Well, obviously they're going to go through the same changes eventually--and Gelcolor bottles already have changed a bit considering this is a newer product.  I've watched as many Youtube videos on gel polishes as I can, and I've noticed that the same "authentic" bottles look different in some older videos from OPI's instructional videos on Gelcolors as well as some licensed nail technicians' reviews.  Noticeably, some of the original bottles were a clear glass with a plastic coating that stops at the threading.  These older bottles also had a lot code stamped on the side of the bottle with a yellowish mechanical stamp. 

If you want to see what I mean, I have links here that go straight to the minute/second mark where the the older bottles can be seen.  But I also suggest you watch the full videos, because they're very helpful, too!
For bottle color:
For printing:

Lastly! I know this post is long, but since most people will be buying gel polishes and Gelcolors online, I thought I should add something in about online purchases.  Never be afraid to ask a seller for some clarification, via text or pictures, if you feel a gel may be fake.  And if pictures are blurry, that may not mean anything, either!  Sometimes individual sellers may not be able to take close up macro photos. Finally, when you pay, ALWAYS pay with Paypal, who have a tendency to side on behalf of the buyer should a dispute arise once you actually receive the polish. 


  1. Wonderful post! Super informative and it will definitely keep fakes away from my collection!

    1. Thank you! I think all the links I scattered throughout it are probably just as helpful as my post itself, if not moreso. I could waste my entire day looking up information on gel polishes alone!

  2. Brilliant post. I've found your blog via purse forum (SIMNAILS) I tried to help when you had issues with shrinkage.

    I love this post and will check all my bottles when I get home this evening.

    Simply Into My Nails

    1. You're welcome, and thank you, too! I will have to go back and look at the purseforum again; I don't check that as frequently as I should, and it's a very active forum.

  3. Sorry to be cheeky but do you happen to have a swatch of Deutsch You Want Me Baby?

    I see you have a bottle of it. I'm thinking of buying it but wondering how metallic the gel formula is.

    1. I tried for you, but sometimes reds and oranges do not mix well with my camera! So these might not look so impressive, but "Deutsch You Want Me Baby" is really just as metallic as the purple next to it ("Suzi & the 7 D├╝sseldorfs"), and it looks much better, in my opinion, than the supposedly metallic shade "Tomorrow Never Dies). It's almost metallic enough to show a hint of the brush stroke.


      The weather's not so great today, and a natural lighting would have been more ideal, but I could only capture this patchy looking photo in natural light:


      You can click the photos on Pinterest to make them bigger if you need--I didn't resize them at all so they're kind of huge!

  4. Thank you so much for those pictures!!!

    I think they have swung it for me and I'm 90% sure I'll buy it tomorrow.

    Is it very shimmery and is the second picture in better light as dark as it is irl?

    Sorry for all these questions,.....

    1. No problem; sorry for the delay in replying!

      The second picture may be a bit exaggerated, since the lighting was kind of dramatic, the shade on the right side may make it look a little darker than it really is. I'd say it's about as bright as "The Spy Who Loved Me", but of course more burnt-orangey.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi! I know you deleted your reply now, but you actually had a good question! The text on the plastic lid of the top coat and base coat both scroll downwards (like \) whereas on the colors they always scroll upwards (like /) The back of the bottle looks a little bit different for the base coat (there's no large "shake well before using"), and the base coat also has a noticeable smell.

    2. I don't know what I did... seems like I deleted my question... Glad you read it! Thanks for your response!
      Yah exactly, I was a bit worried about the smell too... and the text directions, seems like there's nothing to worry about.
      Thanks a lot for this amazing post, I'll keep checking your blog :)!

    3. You're welcome, and thanks for the input, too! I hadn't thought about the top/base coat when making this post.

      Luckily with gels, I notice any smells go away right after they are cured, whereas regular nail polish stinks up my room for hours afterwards.

      I saw you have some neat nail art on your blog; I'll have to keep checking yours, as well. :)

  6. Can I ask where you purchase from on Ebay? I want to pick some up but I would like to know a good buyer before I purchase. Thanks

  7. Hi
    I have GelColor I purchased direct from OPI and some of the pointers you describe are now out of date. Happy to share if you need!