Sunday, June 24, 2012

Top coats review

Wanted to do a post on my experiences with various top coats. I love trying new ones, and I've tried several at this point since discovering the awesome-ness that is nail art last year.

I'll start off with the ever popular:

--Seche Vite; I've only used one bottle thus far. Well, I still have 1/2 a bottle left, I just haven't gotten the restore liquid yet. I can see why this top coat is popular. It's thick, and excellent for use in mani's with multiple layers and glitter. Dries SUPER fast. The smell is pretty obnoxious and powerful, but I usually do my nails outside so it's not too much of a problem. Now--this polish is finicky after you've used a bit of it up. You get shrinkage, where the tips of your polish go down a little--even after you've just done your nails. It gets really goopy half way down, another reason why I haven't used up the rest of my Seche. The shrinkage drives me MAD. You get bubbles when you get halfway down as well. Still though, I totally understand why it's so popular. The drying power of this stuff is amazing and the shiny finish is beautiful. It also tends to peel off entire sheets of polish. Which is a bad thing. I've peeled off polish a few times and ended up with a damaged nail bed.

TL;DR: Very thick, super fast drying, popular, finicky fast dry top coat. It's almost a requirement to buy the Seche Restore at some point if you want continued use of this product.

--China Glaze Fast Forward; This used to be my go-to top coat. Well, it's still my current top coat but I'm not going to buy anymore. I've figured out this to be the offender over a lot of mani problems. Over looking the fact that it doesn't dry very shiny (which may be a good thing for some of you who don't want super shine), it's not very good for multiple layer mani's. The smell seems to linger, and i've figured out this top coat has been the offender behind my pedi's basically fading out. By fading out, I mean the color seems to gradually fade and eventually peel off my toes in a matter of days. It dries OK for just one color mani's. I've went through 4 or 5 bottles of this, I won't be repurchasing sadly. Like Seche Vite, it also goops up about half way down. Which is to be expected sometimes with polish, just figured I'd note that.

TL;DRBasically, it's a very thin fast drying top coat--not very good for glitter or multiple layer manicures. Lingering smell, fades color sometimes, doesn't dry very shiny.

--China Glaze Matte Magic; This is a really tiny bottle. I really should have checked the size before I ordered online. Caught me by surprise. It's only .325 oz compared to the usual .5 oz. It works pretty well. Though this is probably with all matte top coats, if you use lotion or wash your hands you risk getting shine on your nails and the effect wearing off. Just something I figured I would note. If you're wanting a matte, I'd go with Essie's Matte About You--that seems to be the go-to matte top coat in nail polish communities.

TL;DR: Tiny bottle compared to other matte bottles. It's basically mini size.

--Sephora by OPI top coat; This is not the fast drying one. I purchased this last year before I realized there were fast dry top coats. I REALLY like it. I've had manicures last weeks with this stuff, I just wish it dried faster. When I have time (and before my bottle had an accident and leaked everywhere, probably my fault though.) and patience, I like using it on plain simple cream manicures. I don't have experience with drying drops, but you may want to get some with this product.

TL;DR: Non fast dry, helps manicures last, doesn't chip very easy.

--Out the Door; Another fast dry top coat. Currently my #1 favorite. I have yet to experience shrinkage like Seche Vite, and it seems to be thick like Seche as well. Which I like a lot when I put glitter on my nails and multiple layers. The smell doesn't linger like China Glazes, and it's not as powerful and overwhelming as other top coats I've posted about. (It's usually cheaper than Seche--another pro!) If you tend to pick or bite your nails, it does seem to peel off in sheets if you overflood your cuticles or pick at them. I think that comes with all thick top coats though. If you have a streaky polish, this seems to help that a bit as well.

TL;DR: Favorite top coat, thick, no shrinkage, fast dry

--Sally Hansen Insta-Dry (red bottle); Another favorite of mine, it's on par with Seche and Out the Door if you ask me. It's easier to find and you don't have to make a special trip to beauty supply stores for it. I found mine at good ole Walmart. The bottle is absolutely ugly in my opinion, but the product is excellent. A thick fast dry top coat.

TL;DR: Second favorite top coat, easy to find, ugly bottle, thick fast dry


Poshe's Fast Dry Top coat. I haven't tried it yet, but it's supposedly on par with Sally Hansen, Out the Door and Seche. (Without the finicky-ness of Seche.)

Essie's Good To Go Fast dry top coat: I haven't heard much about it honestly, but it seems to be a top coat that isn't talked about much. May be something to look into if you're a fan of Essie.

Orly's Glosser - High shine non fast dry top coat. I don't know much about this either.

Orly's Sec N Dry & In A Snap - Again, I don't know much about them but they're both apparently fast dry top coats. I figured I would list all of the top coats I know of here. Not pictured. I'm sure I'm missing some, but these are the main ones I read about on nail polish forums and the like.


  1. Thanks for this! Seche & Out the Door are my faves too! :-)

    1. No prob! This was actually pretty fun to write! :D

  2. This is a really good post, super informative! Seche restore is a must with seche vite for sure. I got mine on Amazon for pretty cheap, but I have no real places to buy current polish where I live. Seche Restore is good for thinning out pretty much all polish, I do find that it will give polishes it's used in a hint of the icky seche smell though.