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A top coat is an essential part of any manicure. Not only does it prevent your nails from getting chipped and dinged, but it also imparts a glossy look. If you paint your nails often (and according to the still booming nail polish market, that’s everyone) you can't go without one.
But they're not all created equally so here is our list of the best top coats for any type of manicure.
Best Overall: Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat
Peek into the kit of any professional nail artist and you'll likely find a bottle of this cult-favorite clear polish. It’s a must-have because it leaves nails with an ultra-shiny, crystal clear finish, and speeds up the dry time of your color polish. With just one coat, your nail lacquer maintains that I-just-had-a-mani freshness for days, without peeling, chipping, or yellowing.
Best Classic: Essie Good to Go Top Coat
If you’re a loyal Essie fan, you’ll love the brand’s quick-dry top coat. The formula is light, glossy, and sets fast. One sweep on each nail and you're good to go. See what we did there?
Best Budget: Wet n Wild Megalast Hard As Ice Top Coat
Anything containing diamond powder sounds like it should be really pricey, right? But this top coat contains the luxe ingredient and sells for less than the price of your morning latte. Why diamonds, you ask? They’re known to be super hard, and, of course, extremely shiny. And those are two qualities you want in your nails.
The ultra-fine diamond powder, made from the dust created by cutting diamonds, adheres to your color coat, making nails super glossy, stronger, and chip-resistant for up to one week. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, especially when they come this cheap.
Best Drugstore: Sally Hansen Color Therapy Top Coat
Sally Hansen usually gets drugstore nail care right with on-trend, high-tech polishes, and products that outperform the way pricier competition. This top coat is a prime example. It doesn’t just protect your polish; it nourishes your nails at the same time. It’s formulated with argan oil to hydrate and strengthen brittle, weak nails. But don’t worry, it doesn’t feel greasy on your tips. The oil gets sealed into your dry digits, and your color coat gets a dose of brilliant shine that lasts for up to 10 days.
Check out our guide to the best nail strengtheners available online.
Best Matte: OPI Matte Top Coat
Sometimes you feel like high shine and sometimes you don’t. That’s what this Amazon Choice matte top coat is for. It instantly de-shines even the glossiest of color coats, leaving nails with a velvety-smooth finish. Use it on all your nails for a cool, textured look. Or, you can get creative with the mattifying coat and dull the shine just along the edge—like a modern take on the traditional french manicure. Another idea: Apply it to just one or two digits for matte accent nails, leaving the rest glossy.
Best Quick Dry: Nails Inc. 45 Second Top Coat
Let’s face it: Waiting around for your nails to dry can be a drag. And, if you’re impatient like us, you almost always end up with a smudge because you just can’t sit still long enough to let your polish fully harden. Fortunately, with this top coat, you don’t have to sit for more than a minute. Seriously. As its name suggests, the top coat dries nails to the touch in just 45 seconds. Your polish is left with a high gloss finish that won’t smudge or smear when you start digging around in your bag.
Best Gel: Londontown Kur Gel Genius Top Coat
We love gel manicures for their vibrant, high-shine color that won’t budge for up to two weeks. But taking them off (typically with pure acetone) can be rough on your nails. Enter this innovative polish. It’s a gel formula, but it doesn’t require a special UV lamp to harden it. And your polish comes off easily, just like traditional nail enamel. Use it over any regular lacquer and get a chip-free, high-shine mani (or pedi) for a week to 10 days.
Love a gel mani you can do at home? Check out our article on the best at-home gel nail kits.
Best No Chip: Orly Won’t Chip Chip Resistant Top Coat
While all top coats are designed to prevent chipping to some extent, there are formulas that go the extra mile to keep your polish from flaking off your nails. This clear coat contains a polymer technology that binds to nails, protecting your polish like an invisible shrink wrap. It goes on smooth, not gloppy, and then dries with a high-shine finish, preventing peeling and flaking for days.
We rounded up the best nail polishes on the market.
Best Kit: L'Oreal Extraordinaire Gel Lacquer 1-2-3 Nail Kit
Whether or not you choose to use the included base coat—it also works wonders, so you really should—you’ll love this topcoat. It gives nails a thick, super glossy finish and keeps them chip-free for days.
Best High Shine Finish: Revlon Extra Life No Chip Top Coat
Do you value shine above all else? Revlon’s topcoat makes nails look freshly painted for around five days—plus, it’s incredibly thin, so it dries quickly.
Up next: Check out our roundup of the best drugstore nail polishes for standout nails.