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Those of us who regularly like to get our nails done know the havoc a gel mani can wreak on our digits. While the staying power of a gel manicure is truly next level, going back and forth to the salon to get nail designs applied and removed can lead to weaker nails over time. Furthermore, evidence is mounting that repeated exposure to the UV lamps used in gel manicures may lead to skin cancer. Yikes.
While you may not want to nix your gel manicures completely, it is probably best to give your nails a break once in a while. However, if you’re 100% committed to that shiny, indestructible finish you get from gel, finding a great top coat may be your next best bet.
For those new to nail terminology, a topcoat is a clear layer of polish that’s laid over your color to seal it and prevent it from chipping. Topcoats can also give your manicure a brilliant shine, offering a professional look that you’d normally only get from a salon. Topcoats can perform other functions too, including preventing your nail polish from staining and speeding up your polish’s drying time.
Orly Shining Armor Long Wear Topcoat ($11)
If you’re looking for a topcoat that ticks a ton of boxes, this particular topcoat from Orly might be right up your alley. The Shining Armor Long Wear Topcoat has been given the seal of approval by beauty experts, and it provides a particularly glossy shine to your manicure in addition to drying quickly, according to the brand.
One writer at Well + Good who tried it explains that while the top coat itself is quite liquid, it gives a plumper finish that closely mimics a gel manicure. She explained that she applied the top coat before a weeklong trip, and after two and a half more weeks of wear and tear the polish was still perfectly intact. That’s three and a half weeks total!
One reviewer on Amazon echos this sentiment, saying the topcoat offers “incredible shine.”
I have used several brands of top coat. This is the best by far, ” McTroy said. “Great shine, dries fast and a manicure will last a week or longer.”
Thankfully, other brands carry amazing top coats that will help level up your manicures.
Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat ($8.36)
This fan favorite is available on Amazon for just under $10 and has racked up more than 30,100 five-star reviews. It also has a 4.6-star overall rating from over 37,500 reviews.
If that number alone doesn’t convince you, reviewer Lexi was so impressed that she shared: “Ladies, this stuff is legit … With this top coat, there are no scratches, no scrapes, no bumps, no peeling, no uneven areas, none. Zero. Definitely worth adding to your nail stash. You’ll thank me!”
The brand sheds light on the product’s secret, saying that the top coat actually “penetrates through the nail lacquer to the base coat,” which gives it its rock-solid finish.
Essie 8-Free Vegan Good To Go Top Coat ($9.34)
If you are looking for a polish that is free of some of the more problematic ingredients that are typically found in nail polish, look no further than Essie’s Good to Go topcoat. This topcoat formula is free of eight major toxins and said to provide a high-gloss finish. It will set your manicure color fast. The brand suggests re-applying every two days to extend the life of your mani even longer.
With more than 11,100 five-star reviews and a 4.5-star overall rating from almost 15,000 reviews, this one is another one users love.
“This combination top and bottom coat is a miracle. I receive compliments, with one woman asking where I had the manicure done! This product gives a professional look at home! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!” reviewer DDM writes.
If you’re in the mood to treat yourself to a manicure, be sure to pick up one of these amazing top coats. Here’s to long-lasting, high-shine, swoon-worthy nails!
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