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The Best Top Coat Nail Polishes for Long-Lasting Manicures

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Written by Ashley Neese

No manicure is complete without a smooth and shiny top coat. A single swipe of a top coat will keep your favorite nail polish from chipping too soon, but it will also enhance the color with a high-definition gloss. That said, we’ve rated and reviewed some of the best top coat nail polishes of 2024 to help you protect your nails.

Top Coat Nail Polish Guide

Having a perfect manicure can add a touch of sophistication and glamour to your look, but getting it right is all about nailing the details. A great top coat nail polish can make the difference between a manicure that looks great the day you do it and one that stays looking fresh for weeks. In this buying guide, we’ve jotted down all the essential information needed to pick the right top coat nail polish.

Finish

Most top coats make your nails shiny, but some give them a more reflective, high-gloss look. If your nails lose their shine after a few days of manicure, you can always add a touch-up coat to get them back to life. Then there’s a matte polish, which has a flat gloss to it. Matte top coats can be used over standard glossy polishes to dull the sheen and create a velvety, shine-free look.

Drying Time

Many top coats are made to dry fast. If a product dries within a few minutes, it will usually say so on the label. Otherwise, you can expect most clear coats to be dry to the touch in about 10 minutes and fully hardened in about 30 minutes. So the more coats you apply, the longer it takes to dry. If you’re in a hurry, choose a fast-drying option that won’t need UV or LED light to cure.

Consistency

A top coat nail polish that is too thick is hard to spread on nails, and one that is too thin never stays in place. So you should choose one with a glue-like texture that goes on easily and doesn’t leave smudges.

Sheerness

The purpose of a top coat is to give your manicure or pedicure a shiny, matte, or puffed look. It shouldn’t take away from the lacquer in any way. Make sure to get a clear, sheer top coat so that the main color or design on your nails can show through.

Lacquer or Gel

Normal nail polish dries like paint does: it dries on its own. Gel nail polish, on the other hand, can only dry and harden under a special UV or LED lamp. Some top coat nail polishes come with these lamps, but you can also purchase them from a beauty store and they don’t cost much.

When working with gel, you want to make sure it doesn’t have a high heat spike, which is what makes you feel like you’re burning when you’re under LED lights. Always get a gel top coat that doesn’t wear off and stays shiny for weeks, and go for formulas that don’t wipe off because they give the perfect shine.

Comparing the Best Top Coat Nail Polishes of 2024

1

OPI Top Coat Nail Polish

Pros

  • Chip- and scratch-resistant formula
  • Compact, travel-friendly packaging
  • Smudge-free and non-yellowing

Cons

  • Some may not like the applicator

The OPI top coat nail polish makes an excellent choice for a professional-looking manicure. This top coat seals in your nail color to prevent scratches and chipping, while adding a beautiful, high-gloss shine to finish off your look. It allows you to quickly and easily seal your polished nails for a professionally finished look with no fuss. The formula is smudge-free and non-yellowing to keep your nail art looking clean and fresh.

What makes this top coat nail polish different from other options is its unique formula, which has revolutionized the quality of nail colors and the overall appearance of manicures. It's easy to apply to get better coverage with fewer coats, making it easier to achieve a luminous and long-lasting finish. With this top coat, you can feel confident knowing your manicure will last until your next appointment or a minimum of up to seven days without chipping or smudging, making it our top pick.

2

Ardell Top Coat Nail Polish

Pros

  • Dries without needing LED light
  • Alcohol-free and vegan-friendly
  • Fade and chip-resistant

Cons

  • Polish may chip if not applied properly

If you like to keep your manicure looking amazing for longer, add the Seche top coat nail polish to your collection. This clear coat helps bring a glossy, high-shine finish to any nail polish, while also strengthening and protecting the nails from yellowing or staining. Plus, you don’t have to depend on a UV/LED light to get salon-level results, as it dries out quickly without cracking or chipping.

This top coat nail polish is long-lasting and seals in color to prevent fading, so your nails look vibrant and fresh for days. Additionally, a thin coat of this high-quality nail polish will protect your nails and manicure for over two weeks. Not only that, it's made with 100% vegan ingredients, making it an excellent choice for anyone who wants to stay conscious when shopping for beauty products. It also doesn’t contain any parabens, sulfates, triclosan, or other harmful chemicals, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re using a skin- and nail-friendly product.

3

Sally Hansen Top Coat Nail Polish

Pros

  • Perfectionist brush for quick application
  • Long-lasting, chip-resistant finish
  • Dries completely in 30 seconds

Cons

  • Finish may not appeal to some

The Sally Hansen top coat nail polish is the perfect choice for those who want beautiful, long-lasting nails. This top coat covers brilliantly in just one coat to make your manicure last longer without changing the color of the nail paint. It comes with a perfecting brush that efficiently contours to any nail shape, gliding on precisely and quickly.

With this top coat nail polish, you’ll get a beautiful shiny finish that lasts up to 10 days. You’re sure to love its exclusive acrylic polymer formula that hardens and dries any nail color in just 30 seconds, saving you precious time. And with double UV filters, your nail color will be well-protected from fading or chipping. This top coat nail polish gives your nails an extended period of wear with an easy and quick application, providing a gorgeous finish in just a few seconds.

4

beetles Top Coat Nail Polish

Pros

  • Compatible with soak-off gel polishes
  • Easy to use and cures quickly
  • Provides a gorgeous matte finish

Cons

  • Not ideal for sensitive skin

Do you want to step into a nail care regimen or upgrade your existing collection? The beetles gel polish top coat is a perfect choice. This top coat nail polish is made using toxin-free ingredients to keep your nails looking healthy. The flexible top coat prevents chipping, nicks, and smudging, ensuring that your manicure and nails stay looking sharper for longer. With this product, you can enjoy a gorgeous matte finish that seals in color and adds an attractive touch.

In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the low-odor formula of this top coat nail polish makes it safer than traditional products, while minimizing potential irritations. It cures quickly under an LED lamp and can last for up to 21 days without the need for reapplication. To ensure optimal results, make sure to always apply a thin layer when using it and clean around the nails before curing.

5

Aimeili Top Coat Nail Polish

Pros

  • More quantity at a cheaper price
  • Skin-friendly, hema-free formula
  • Anti-scratch and long-lasting

Cons

  • Cures best with a UV lamp

Whether you’re looking for an everyday staple or something special for a night out, the Aimeili top coat gel nail polish delivers great results every time. This product is the perfect choice for those looking to achieve a flawless, glossy finish on their nails. From the moment you open the bottle, you’ll be impressed by its unique and high-quality formula. The polish glides on like classic nail polish, but wears like gel, promising 21 days of high-gloss wear.

Additionally, this long-lasting, chip-resistant topcoat ensures that you won’t experience any nicks, chips, or smudges after application. It’s incredibly quick and easy to remove when compared to other top coat nail polishes, making it more convenient and time-saving than other options available. Plus, the matte finish gives you an effortlessly chic look and requires drying under a UV or LED lamp for the best results.

People Also Ask

  • Q: When do I apply top coat nail polishes?

    A:You should start with a base coat every time. The base coat is a clear lacquer that evens out your nails and gives the nail paint a good surface to stick to. After that, start applying your favorite nail paint, spread it on your nails evenly, and wait for two minutes to let it dry completely. Then apply the second coat if needed. The last step is to paint the nail polish with the top coat. Always start in the middle and use broad strokes to fill in the sides. For a better shine, wait for two minutes and then reapply the clear top coat for salon-like results.

  • Q: Can I use a top coat on my nails as a base coat?

    A:Base coat and top coat are two different types of nail polish. The base coat is usually made to give the nails a smooth, even finish before putting on your nail colors. On the other hand, the top coat dries the nail polish quickly and gives the nails a shiny look while locking in the color for longer.

  • Q: How long does top coat nail polish last?

    A:With proper care, top coat nail polish can last anywhere from two to four days without chipping or fading. It can also last longer with proper maintenance such as regular cleaning and moisturizing of the nails, avoiding activities that cause exposure to chemicals, dirt, or oils, and using gloves for activities that require a lot of hand washing.

  • Q: Is top coat nail polish safe to use?

    A:Top coat nail polishes are generally safe to use when applied correctly per manufacturer instructions and you take precautions when handling them (such as wearing gloves). Some people may be more sensitive to certain ingredients found in certain types of polishes, so it’s important to read labels and check with a healthcare provider before use if there is any concern of an allergic reaction or sensitivity.

  • Q: Can I use top coat nail polish on gel nails?

    A:Yes, you can use a regular basecoat followed by a gel-polish layer. Then you can use a thick layer of topcoat on gel nails for added protection against fading and chipping over time. But make sure that you select products specifically designed for use on gel nails as regular products may not adhere properly, leaving you with uneven coverage due to improper adhesion between layers.

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By Ashley Neese

Ashley Neese graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She enjoys writing about a little bit of everything. In my free time she loves to read and play with her pets.
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