How to choose the best top coat, according to your nail polish personality
Along with the usual resolutions, like eat less fatty foods (peace out, pizza), waste less money on Uber trips (hello, frigid walks), and binge-watch less (welcome back, life) are the more specific ones that help us look like responsible adults. The resolution that’s high on the priority list? Ensuring our nails always look neat, clean and glossy—not chipped, dull and well, foul.
But anyone who has ever smudged a nail after applying a fresh coat of nail polish (read: everyone who has ever applied nail polish ever) knows how frustrating, time-consuming, and seemingly impossible the whole process can be. But there’s one little secret to keeping your nails in tip-top shape: rely on an amazing top coat.
Whether you’re looking for a quick-drying, vinyl-looking, vibrancy-enhancing, chip-resisting, or cost-effective mani, we’ve rounded up five of the best clear nail lacquers that will act as your saviour for maintaining professional-looking fingernails. Flip through to find the perfect option for your lifestyle.
For the impatient girl
With our jam-packed mornings and evenings when we’re not in the office, we don’t have time to take extra care with every move we make as to not smudge our mani. As soon as we twist on the lacquer lid and slip the bottle back onto the shelf we’re ready to complete the next task on out to-do list—not sit on the couch blowing our nails dry. For the ones who just can’t sit still, you need the 45 Second Top Coat with Kensington Caviar by Nails Inc. It’ll leave your nails super glossy and completely dry to touch in under a minute. Even if you don’t have time to add a coloured lacquer to your nails, you can still achieve attractive fingernails by simply applying this shiny, clear lacquer.
Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat with Kensington Caviar ($17, sephora.com)
For the beauty buff
Many of us would love to get a mani on the red. Unfortunately, weekly trips to the salon can make up quite the hefty bill. Opt for a professional looking home job by topping your coloured polish with a coat of Dior’s Gel Top Coat. Not only will it protect your colour against everywhere wear (like dullness from applying copious amounts of hand cream, or chips from digging around your handbag) but it also offers an amazing vinyl-like effect, all while extending the life of your manicure.
Dior Gel Top Coat ($40, nordstrom.com )
For the brights lover
Those who reach for the poppy reds, bubble gum pinks, and flowery purples need a top coat that will enhance the colour—never dull it. What you need is Deborah Lippman’s Quick-Dry Top Coat – Addicted to Speed. Like its name suggests, it will dry your nails super quickly, but it also offers a durable, high-gloss coating that seals in colour. It contains Cellulose and Dimethicone which create a bold, high-shine, chip-resistant finish to ensure your tutti fruiti mani stays around for as long as possible.
Deborah Lippman Quick-Dry Top Coat – Addicted to Speed ($20, net-a-porter.com )
For the hands-on girl
Whether it’s doing DIYs or whipping up meals in the kitchen, it can be all too easy for the hands-on girl to chip her perfect polish job. The fix? Top it off with Essie’s No Chips Ahead. It’s been formulated with a wear-extending ingredient that will shield your colour and protect it from fading and make it resistant to chips and peeling. It’s all you need for a truly indestructible at-home mani.
Essie No Chips Ahead ($12>, essie.com> )
For the one who doesn’t have time for manis
Ideally, we’d refresh our polish job on a twice-a-week basis to keep our nails in perfect condition—but who has time for that? When a once-a-week mani is all you can fit into your busy schedule, opt for topping it with Butter London’s Hardwear P.D. Quick Topcoat. It’ll dry your nails quickly, extend the life of your polish, and add a high-gloss finish. Or, you can wear it on its own for a fresh, clean look that packs some serious shine. But the best part about this Butter London top coat? It’s made without formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP.
Butter London Hardwear P.D. Quick Topcoat ($19, ulta.com )