Most manis never last long on me. Having soft nails that easily bend and break, most top coats don’t stand a chance of lasting more than a day before I’ve either chipped or ripped off half of my nail. While I am a fan of gel manicures, my wallet doesn’t share my affections unless there’s an occasion that calls for a long-lasting look. Thankfully, the industry gets my — and many other’s— predicament and has answered the call with a series of top coats designed to mimic the lustrous look and long wear of the salon service, no lamps necessary. These are the top coats that ensure my nails stay in tip top shape!
- Essie Gel Setter Color and Shine Topcoat, $10
This top coat offers the cushy look and appeal of your favorite gel mani without having to cure each layer for 30 seconds or more. The viscous formula makes it tough to crack and easy to smooth over nail art details and glitter for a super smooth and shiny finish, but over time can make the gloss feel a little goopy if you don’t keep the cap sealed tight. But it’s made sure my regular nail color stays put for at least a week before seeing a chip, and by then I’ve already moved onto the next shade in my collection.
- Julep Freedom Polymer Topcoat, $18
I first discovered this little miracle worker backstage at Richard chai a few seasons ago. I initially put off testing it under the assumption I had to use a lamp to activate the top coat. While it’s easy to get confused in the chaos of #NYFW, I did my homework and realized I was wrong and immediately slapped it over whatever shade I was rocking at the time. It’s since become one of my biggest go-tos, thanks to the smoothing formula and quick-dry appeal, as I’m always in a rush.
- Morgan Taylor React Extended Wear Top Coat, $11.90
I’ve been a big fan of Morgan Taylor’s array of runway-worthy shades since I first started covering #NYFW, but I honestly fell head over heels when I got my hands on this top coat. Bringing the best of its sister brand, Gelish, this slightly thinner formula makes it easy to apply one the go, and dries within ten minutes (which is as much patience I have with wet nails). Not to mention that I’ve been lazy to switch up my shade from time to time, and it’s kept its glossy sheen free of chips for up to 10 days!
- Zoya Armor Top Coat, $10
I’m forever looking for options, and a natural is always a plus. But Zoya’s top coat takes it to the next level! Don’t let the thin formula fool you! It offers just as strong of a topcoat but can bend along with your nail naturally, reducing the chances of chips. Plus it’s even formulated with a UV protectant to ensure your nail color doesn’t change in the sun.