Top Coat Nail Polish- Best Matte, Gel & Clear

You probably know that top coat nail polish is all you need to keep your manicure last longer. So, what exactly is a top coat, what purpose does it serve and how do you use it correctly? What are the best quick dry, shiniest, no chip and matte top coat brands? Read to find more in addition to reviews, tips and ideas.

What is a Top Coat Nail Polish

As the name suggests, top coat is an additional layer/coat that covers the normal nail polish after you are done with painting your nails. In essence, it is actually the last step, after applying nail polish to finish and set the base and color out. You can also reapply a top coat 5-7 days after  your first manicure process.

Just like base coats, top coats are usually transparent but some may offer additional holographic, glitter, or gel like effects.

Some also have light semi-transparent coloring pigments for enhancing a nail polish of the same or similar color. Top coats  have a tendency to dry quickly. They are also characterized by an ability to create a high-gloss shine

Note: a top coat should never be confused with clear nail polish. They are different. Clear nail polish  is a nail polish like any other nail polishes only that it come without color…it is clear. Like other nail lacquers, it can chip or peel off with time.


Top coats are made up of the following.

  • Nitrocellulose-It is what contributes to the shine.
  • Cellulose-based chemicals to get a correct shine
  • Plasticizers for flexibility.

Sally Hansen, one of the top players in nail polish industry, uses the following ingredients

Nitrocellulose, Ethyl Actetate, Butly Actetate, Benzophenone-1, water, Etocrylene, Pantenol, Alcohol Denat, Nylon-12, Isopropyl Alcohol, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, Adipic Acid/ Neopently Glycol/ Tremellitic Anhydride Copolymer.

Best top coat nail polish purpose use best brand reviews
Applying top coat nail polish

What does a top coat do?

The main purpose of a top coat is to add an extra protective layer for making nail polish last longer. Top coats are designed to dry quick while hardening and this ability explains why they are able to protect your polish from peeling, scratches and chipping.

It also strengthens nails and keeps the polish looking shiny and glossy especially when you are applying dark colors like black which tend to chip easily and look very tacky.

Top Coats, depending on the formula, can be used to add sparkle on the nail or make the total manicure/pedicure result look more even and professional.

Top coats can als0 smoothen any uneven nail polish finishes .

Some top coats can also dehydrate your nails

How to use/Apply

Below are steps to apply a top coat

  • The first thing you need to check prior the application of top coat is the dryness of nail polish (previously applied to the nail). If the nail polish hasn’t dried yet, it’s best to wait for it to dry completely or at least 90%–this will ensure you won’t get any sticky and messy looking results. If this has happened, it’s best to wipe everything with Aceton remover and start all over again.
  • Begin by applying thin strokes of top coat from the down edge towards the middle and upper edge and then to the sites. The strokes have to be thin and firm to get the perfect finish and evenness. It is perfectly fine if you accidentally apply a little beyond the edges of the nail as it’s clear and can be simply wiped off with a q-tip dipped in nail polish remover.
  • Wait for it to dry, at least 1 minute before walking, trying your shoes, or doing everything else. Some formulas may take more than 1 minute to dry completely and if you are not sure, it’s best to wait a couple of minutes more. You can also check if it’s dry with your index middle finger, by pressing gently the edge of the nail. If it doesn’t feel tacky and feels completely smooth and dry to the touch, it means that it has completely dried out.

Optional: If the formula is thin or the package instructions recommend the application of another layer, apply a second layer of top coat, following the same process as directed above.
Video Tutorial

Best top Coat Nail Polish Reviews & Brands- Fast dry, No Chip & Shiniest

Usually, top coats are available for purchase online or offline at stores which carry nail polish and nail care lines. There are many formulas and categories available, based on the purpose and finish you are looking for. If you are curious to know which the best top coats for each category are, here they are:

Best all-purpose, Fast dry & no-chip top coats:

  • Opi Rapi-Dry Top Coat ($12-13). This a quick dry top coat that completely dries in just a few seconds (typically 10-15 seconds) and prevents nail polish chipping for results that last at least 5 days. Available at most drugstores, beauty supply stores, and online at Amazon and Ebay.
  • Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat ($9-11)
    The brush is great, and provides easy application. It dries extremely fast  and
    had a very shiny finish.
  • Sally Hansen Instant-Dri (4.99-5.99). If you want to get the similar results with the Opi Rapi-DRY Top Coat for half the price, this Sally Hansen instant-dry formula is a great alternative. The majority of online reviewers has given this a score between 4 to 5 starts and support that it does the job of drying out and prevent chipping pretty well.
  • Revlon Extra Life Non-Chip Top Coat ($4.60). Although this one is one cheapest top coats available in the market, it holds up pretty well of not the same as more expensive non-chip top coats, according to online reviewers.
Best quick dry no chip nail polish top coat seche vite
seche vite

Other brands worth mentioning

  • Deborah Lippmann Addicted To Speed Top Coat
  • Sally Hansen Diamond Flash Fast Dry Top Coat
  • Zoya Armor Top Coat
  • Orly Sec’n Dry Top Coat
  • Essie Quick-E Drying Drops
  • CND Vinylux Top Coat

Best shiniest top coat

Most of the brands mentioned above also come with a shine. Here are some that are known to add the shine and glow.

  • Sally Hansen Big Shiny Top Coat
  • HK Girl Top Coat by Glisten & Glow
Sally hansen & Hk Girl top coats

Best Top Coats with UV protection filters:

  • CND Color Shellac, UV Top Coat ($15.99). Although typically retails for more than 15 dollars, it is widely used by professional salons for a smooth gel like finish and UV protection, useful for preventing the nail polish color from fading faster.
  • Avon Nail Experts UN Gloss Guard ($5.99). A great inexpensive find from Avon that offers a glossy finish and offers U.V protection for the prevention of color fading.

Best Matte Top Coats

  • Sally Hansen’s Big Matte Top Coat ($5-6). A very popular product that adds a layer of matte, long lasting finish.
  • Opi Matte Coat ($5-9). This one promises to produce a velvety smooth and soft matte finish that doesn’t look too harsh. According to most online reviewers, this does the job it says.
  • Essie Matte About You ($8.99). Another great find for finishing off and mattyfying your nail polish.
  • Butter London Matte Finish Top Coat($10.49)

Best Top Coats for gel-like finish:

  • Essie Gel Setter ($6.75). A great product for setting your nail polish and adding a glossy, gel-like finish to your nails that lasts at least 3 days.
  • Essence, the gel nail polish Top Coat ($3-3.99). Despite its low price, this top coat ranks among the best top coats for a gel finish according to online reviewers and review websites. On the downside, this is a German brand mostly available in Europe but American gals can buy this online from Ebay and Amazon.

Review and Rating

Below  tried-and-tested video by Shu An -She tries, help my finger matte top coat, seche vite, northern lights hologram top coat and L’Cret power quick dry dropper. What and see the her rating.

Tips and Ideas when Buying & Using  top coats

When buying a top coat, be sure to have details on the kind of color that you will be using it on. The perfect nail top coat will depend on that color. The formulation is also another point to consider. Some top coats are not compatible with all brands of nail colors due to ingredients

Due to the fact that top coats are speciality formulas, they require extra care to last longer. When buying your top coat, if you want to check that the formula is fine, lightly shake it with your hands.

If it feels gloopy, lumpy and heavy, this is a sign that the consistency has gotten thicker and that the product is old. If it doesn’t have any of these signs, it means that it’s fine.

Of course you can’t open in to check inside and apply it to your nails, unless they offer open samples for testing it out.

If you want to prolong its life and prevent the consistency from getting gloopy and uneven, make sure you store it in a cool and dry place that is not directly exposed to sunlight, or as directed in the package.

The thicker the viscosity of the top coat, the higher the shine, but the longer it will take to dry. Be sure to select the right balance

Originally posted 2021-01-01 12:39:52.

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