Confessions of a Perpetual Manicure Ruiner, OR the Never-Ending Quest for the Perfect Top Coat...
In an effort to be more budget-conscious, I’ve recently forgone professional manicures in favor of doing my own nails at home. In addition to saving me about $12 plus tip per manicure, this move has several collateral benefits. One, I can justify my insatiable need to buy bottles of nail polish. Two, I can satisfy my (self-diagnosed) nail polish ADD without feeling guilty about ruining a pro paint job. And three, and probably most important of all, I spare myself the inevitable frustration of doling out cash right before chipping/smudging my nails 3 seconds after I walk out of the nail salon. If there was an award for Worst Maintenance of a Professional Manicure, I’d win, hands down.
This leads me to an important mission, however - finding the perfect quick-drying (because I am NOT a patient person), chip-resistant, SHINY topcoat (not into the whole matte finish look, sorry). To date, I’ve yet to find my holy grail top coat, the one that will give me at least 5 days of shiny, chipless nails.
In my quest to find the perfect top coat, I’ve conducted both online and hands-on (haha, pun intended) research.
Several top coats make repeat appearances among the beauty bloggers and YouTube gurus that I follow, the most popular definitely being Seche Vite ($8, available at CVS, Ricky’s NYC, and other beauty/drugstores). My new favorite spa in Hoboken (and the last place where I went for a professional manicure) uses this as their house top coat, and I have to say I was impressed with the thickness and chip-resistance of Seche Vite. However, online reviewers have often complained of shrinkage and the smell of the top coat.
In the past, I’ve found that good old-fashioned Sally Hansen Hard as Nails (you know, the inexpensive clear top coat in the extremely dated-looking bottle) is extremely chip-resistant. (Although, interestingly enough, I’ve found that when I use this as a base coat, my nails chip the next day.)
Recently, I’ve been using Essie Good to Go! ($8), which is basically Essie’s version of Seche Vite - a thick, shiny, quick drying top coat. So far, I’m pretty impressed. I have noticed a tiny bit of shrinkage, but I’ll take shrinkage over ginormous chips any day. Also, it suffers from a little bit of an obnoxious odor similar to Seche Vite, but once the nails are dry, it’s not noticeable. Good to Go! is extremely quick drying, which I love - it means I can paint my nails before bed without worrying about waking up with sheet marks and smudges on the surface of my nails. I purchased my bottle from Apothica.com, but it’s also available at Target, Ricky’s, and online retailers.
One of my favorite YouTubers, missglamorazzi, raves about Sally Hansen Mega Shine Topcoat ($8), which she strongly prefers over Seche Vite. It was on my list of products to try out for awhile, when I happened to find it in my local Bed Bath & Beyond for way less than it costs at Target and CVS. Thanks to my endless supply of BB&B coupons, I ended up paying only $3.93! (Oh, how I love a bargain). I used it that night, and my manicure lasted 4 days with VERY minor chippage on my right hand (which is my dominant hand, so no suprise there). It probably would have lasted even longer, but I got bored with my nail color and had to change it, so a longer experiment will have to be conducted at a later date.
What’s your go-to top coat?