after I showed you my favorite base coats, it is now time for the top coats. For me, finding the perfect top coat is a neverending story. By now, I have a few favorites, but I am still on the hunt for my holy grail product. The perfect top coat for me dries fast, gives a shiny smooth finish without having to add several layers, does not shrink my manicure and does not get goopy. I know, that is a lot to ask for. So today I am sharing with you my experiences with various top coats - ranked from worst to best.
First up is Seche Vite, which I am sure everyone of you knows and most of you have tried. When I first got into nail polish, I was told I had to try Seche Vite, as it was supposed to be the most amazing top coat ever. So I bought a bottle and the very first time I used it I was blown away - it dried uber fast and left a very shiny finish. But with the following morning came the disappointment - my polish had shrunken at the tips and at the cuticle, which is not a nice look. This happened to me with every manicure, independent of the base coat or polish I used. I also don't like that Seche Vite contains toluene, which makes it smell like paint thinner (and is not good for your health, especially when you're pregnant). By now, I am not even halfway through my bottle and it has gone gooey and hard to manage. So I rather stay away from Seche Vite. This was from Transdesign.com, but as far as I know Seche is available at various places - online and in store.
Similar things apply to the Poshé super fast-drying top coat. It dries fast and shiny, but also gives me that annoying shrinkage. At least this does not contain toluene, but it will most likely carve out a miserable existence in my drawer. I got my bottle from a Dutch nail polish store, but you can also find this on Amazon and BeautyBay. In the US you can find Poshé at Ulta and 14ml retail for $7.
Sally Hansen Insta-Dry has a quite thin consistency, but is easy to use. The formulation reminds me of the discontinued Essence Fast Dry top coat. This gives me a bit of shrinkage, but not as bas as Seche Vite or Poshé. Wrapping the tips helps prevent shrinking at the tips, but still it takes the polish at the cuticles with it whilst drying. Also, this does not dry as fast as the aforementioned products and does not dry as shiny. I find the almost 8€ German price tag a bit too high for this product, so I won't repurchase it.
Aaaand another fast drying top coat that tends to shrink my manicures. This is Essie's much-praised Good To Go top coat. I really really liked it when I first started using it, but this stuff gets gloopy and stringy very quickly! I tried adding some cheap P2 nail polish thinner, but it didn't really help (in fact, they didn't even mix properly o.O). Also I find this gives me more shrinkage the thicker it gets. Meh. In Germany, you can easily get this topcoat from DM drugstores for I believe 7€ a bottle.
Now we're finally having a candidate that (almost) lives up to my expectations. The OPI RapiDry TopCoat. It is easy to work with, dries relatively fast and has a shiny finish. The only downside for me is that this top coat dissolves the nail polish undeneath quickly. I always let my nails dry for a good ten minutes before applying a top coat, but still I end up with a blue/green/red/whatever color I used on the brush - which then stains the actual top coat in the bottle. I guess RapiDry is available everywhere OPI polishes are sold. You can also get it from Amazon.
One of my go to top coats for years has been INM Out The Door. I know many people complain it does not dry fast or shiny - and I admit compared to Seche Vite or Good To Go this takes a lot longer to dry and smoothing out glitter bombs is next to impossible with this top coat, because it is so thin. Then again, it does not shrink my nail polish and makes it last for a good amount of time. I usually get mine from Transdesign.com, where 15ml cost ~$3, so it's pretty affordable, too.
Tadaaaa, this is my favorite top coat at the moment. It is The Shield from the indie brand a-England. This does dry quickly, gives a shiny finish and does not shrink my manicure. I love that it wears like iron and does not chip for days and days! My bottle is slightly pink, because this one also tends to dissolve polishes on my nails, but the pros outweigh the cons here! You can purchase it here or from various other retailers if you're outside the UK.
So overall I have to say those "hyped" mainstream top coats did not live up to my expectations and most of them don't even work for me. After reading Sammy's top coat comparison I really want to try indie products, as they seem to have all the benefits of Seche Vite & Co minus the shrinking. Luckily, Harlow & Co. just restocked KB Shimmer, so I snagged 2 bottles of their Clearly On Top top coat and I cannot wait to try it. I would also like to try the Glisten & Glow HK Girl top coat. The only European stockist I have found so far is Rainbowconnection in the UK and shipping to Germany is 20GBP. Boo.
I'd love to hear your experiences with top coats and which is your favorite!
Thanks for reading,