Topping It All Off: A What’s What of Top Coats (and where to buy!)

Since there are so many deals going on currently for top coats, and since I covered the importance of base coats last week, I thought I’d share a few reviews and tips based on ones in my collection in this “Beginner’s Series” post 🙂 Top coats aid in longevity, drying time and occasionally style of your mani; it’s the layer that ties it all together. As always, our lovely master tweeter Melissa shared a bunch of the sales coming up on our twitter this weekend. You can find us a @varnishclique to see them all, not just the few covered in this post 🙂 (she’s pretty on top of it every Saturday, so follow us to get the weekly play by play on polish sales!)

Below the cut I’ve included a variety of my favorites: Seche Vite (FAST drying and super glossy), Hard Candy – Matte-ly in Love (making a polish matte can totally change a color!), Sally Hansen – Complete Care (4 in 1: top coat, base coat, growth treatment and strengthener), Beauty Secrets – Top Coat (quick dry gloss coat) and Nail Life – Aromatherapy Drop On Speed Dry (not a top coat, but rather an oil that helps set your polish).

❤ Jess

The October sale I’m most excited about is the China Glaze and Seche Vite duo at Sally’s. Good brands for a great cause? Count me pleased! 😀 Our loyal readers know we’re big fans of Seche Vite around here. We kind of all consider it the golden child of top coats haha. It’s fast drying abilities are unmatched in my opinion, and when you’re not blessed with the virtues of grace or patience like me, that’s a BIG sell. It’s super glossy and it’s thickness works well over my beloved glitter polishes, annndddd it’ll keep most manis chip free for days (yes, I do occasionally wear polish for more than one day! haha) Biggest draw back comes from it’s fast drying magic: it gets a little thick in the bottle after a couple uses… but a polish thinner (I use Orly’s, Mel uses Beauty Secret’s) solves this problem quite easily 🙂 Seche Vite is also sold on it’s own at CVS, Ulta, and Walgreens, though I’m not sure about the set being sold outside of Sallys.

Matte coats are not really new, but are sort of gaining a new popularity. While there are suede and matte polishes out there, a matte top coat can make any polish have that flat smooth look. I used Hard Candy – Matte about you in the picture and love it. I will admit, I have to do it on days when I can sit and wait for it to dry (it is NOT a quick set coat) but when I’m in the mood for that effect, it’s nice to have around. Once dry, it does hold up well too. Hard Candy polishes don’t really go on sale, but they are affordably priced enough to not worry too much about it (look for it at Walmart). Essie also has a matte coat called “Matte About You” and that can be bought with Essie coupons (or with CVS extra bucks, which is usually how I treat myself to Essies :P)

Sally Hansen – Complete Care is an old staple of mine. Not only is it a top coat, but it’s also a base coat (you already know how important that is to me 😉 ) and a growth treatment anndd a strengthener. Now, it’s no Seche Rebuild for strengthening, but if you’re looking for a one stop shop, it’s a perk. It’s thinner than Seche Vite, and not super fast drying as a top coat, so keep that in mind if that’s an issue for you. One of the big reasons I go back to it every now and again is that it smells prettier than most polishes or top coats (oddly enough a big selling point haha). Once dry, it is super glossy and wears well, so this is a good go to for beginners or a good “all in one” for us addicts to have for on-the-go manis!  Drugstores run frequent deals on Sally Hansen products, and there are a lot of manufacturer coupons out there for them, so look out for those if you’re interested, OR you can use the $3.50 off $10 coupon currently available at to get it online or in store 🙂

Quick dry gloss coats are the most common top coats on the market. I picked up Beauty Secrets a couple months ago on sale, and I have mixed feeling on it. Most of which come from being spoiled by Seche Vite. It’s a “fast drying polish dryer” according to it’s label, and I will give it that it’s quicker than SH-CC or HC-MIL. It will set the top layer of your polish pretty quickly, but it still takes a little bit for your nails to be totally dent proof. I typically use it over nail art to set it, saving my Seche Vite for it’s full coat drying power. It does give a nice gloss and it’s price is pretty nice compared to a lot of “fast dry” coats out there. Purchase of it this month at Sally’s also donates to the Susan G Komen cancer fund, so that helps sway me in it’s favor.

There are options out there that help set your polish that aren’t top coats. There are quick dry aerosols, oils, and sprays. I can’t comment on most of these, I tend to be a polish top coat kinda girl, but Nail Life – Aromatherapy Drop On Speed Dry has recently won me over. I had seen it a couple times and wondered, so when I saw it on sale and had a coupon for super savings (yay Sally’s birthday gift!) I decided to try it. Mainly, I use it as an addition to top coat, but I have tried it on it’s own and been impressed. I’d venture to say that over an already semi-glossy polish, it’s on par with Beauty Secrets in drying ability and doesn’t affect finish. An added bonus is it’s an oil and your cuticles will love it. It even smells like cucumber melon!! I still want to try it over matte polishes to see if it keeps the finish but speeds up dry time, so stay tuned for that. If you’re looking for an out of the box way to set your nails, or a little boost to any of the top coats above, I highly recommend this drop on 🙂

There’s about as much diversity in top coats as there is in polish colors, so it’s really up to personal preference and picking something that suits your needs. I know I’m a little biased by my love for stocking up on manicure essentials at Sally’s Beauty Supply, but hopefully this gives a good starting point and explains some of the differences so you can find a good fit wherever you buy it!

❤ Jess


Posted on October 2, 2011, in Beginner's Series, Essie, Favorite Products, Group Topic, Manicures, Sally Hansen, swatch, Swatching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: