Friday, 1 February 2013

Why do I need a top coat?

So you’ve painted your nails in an amazing colour... is that your mani done? What’s this top coat thing, and why do you need to add yet another coat? A final layer of clear top coat over your finished manicure is important for a few reasons:

Finish - Some nail polish shades dry matte - neon colours, for example, are notorious for this. Most top coats will restore shine. On the other hand, sometimes you'd prefer a matte finish, and a matte top coat can give the desired effect.

Evening out brush strokes - Some top coats are great for smoothing out uneven application and visible brush strokes, to give a professional finish to your mani. These will sometimes blur your nail art though if you’re not careful (and sometimes even if you are).

Rapid drying - Top coats can speed up the dry time of your polish. Unfortunately, many quick-dry top coats are also prone to chipping, and shrinkage (where the top coat makes the colour recede from the edges of the nail) is more common with quick-dry top coats.

Prolonging your mani - A top coat (along with a good base coat) can help prevent chipping of your manicure. Additionally, tip wear (where polish wears off at the tip and bare nail starts showing) can be slowed down by reapplying top coat every few days.

Hardens nails - Adding a hard layer of top coat can strengthen the nail and prevent breakage.

Smoothing out glitter - Glitter polishes can often leave a bumpy finish. Adding a thick layer of top coat can make it smooth and glossy, and some top coats are especially made for this purpose.

Overall, investing in a good top coat can save some of the polishes you previously thought were unwearable, and extend the life of your precious, time-consuming manicure!

Examples of popular top coats

Quick-dry: Seche Vite, Poshe, Essie Good to Go, INM Out the Door, Cult Nails Wicked Fast, Orly In a Snap

Matte: Rimmel Lycra Pro Mattifying, Essie Matte About You

Chip prevention: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip, China Glaze No-Chip

Glitter smoothing: Nail Pattern Boldness Glitter Food, Essence Gel Look

Michelle has *almost* finished her PhD in chemistry. When she's not busy slogging away at her thesis or in the pole dance studio, she's blogging at Lab Muffin and Polish or Perish, or buying too many beauty products. 

You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@labmuffin).


  1. Short and sweet post Michelle =) I have to mention the top coat for me - Dazzle Dry Quick Dry top coat, it did all of the above plus UV protection (colourfast), toluene-formaldehyde- and phthalate free, developed by a PhD ;)

    1. Thanks for the recommendation Ann! I'll have to look out for it :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Bec, can't wait to see yours!

  3. JessiesNailArt1 February 2013 12:18

    has anyone tried to put a gel top coat on top of regular mani. I have wanted to try this to extend my mani. i haven't only because i am waiting to get the uv/led nail lamp :))
    Any thoughts??

    1. Someone will be covering this topic soon! The short answer is yes, but make sure your regular manicure is very very dry before proceeding :)

  4. Top coats definitely bring designs together. Nice post~

    1. I love how they flatten the design and make it look neat.

  5. Fantastic post!! I know this will help out some nail addict newbies!!

    1. I hope so - that's what this site is for! :)


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