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A top coat is an essential part to any manicure. Not only does it prevent your nails from getting chipped and dinged it also imparts a glossy look. Top coats aren't 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.
There are over 4,000 reviews online of this top coat, with a large majority of reviewers giving it five stars. Some women claim their manicure looked perfect for 10 full days. It’s safe to say they nailed it with this best-selling formula.
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 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.
Best Gel: Londontown Kur Gel Genius Top Coat
We love the idea of gel manicures. 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. But don’t just take our word for it: This gel coat gets rave reviews, earning a full five stars on Ulta.com.
Best Matte: OPI Matte Top Coat
Sometimes you feel like high shine and sometimes you don’t. That’s what this best-selling, “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 your free 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 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.
Our writers spent 2 hours researching the most popular top coats on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 15 different top coats overall, screened options from 10 different brands and manufacturers, read over 15 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 8 of the top coats themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.