Tuesday, 2 October 2012

My Top Coat Heros

Choosing the right top coat can make a huge difference to how your nail painting experience goes.  Nobody wants to sit about for hours on end with wet nails trying to avoid chipping them only to put a huge obvious dent in one as soon as you feel brave enough to move.
For me, quick drying top coats totally changed how I felt about doing my nails.  There is no way I would change my polish as often as I do if I hadn't found a top coat (or three) which really make a difference to drying time while still giving my manicure great protection and an ultra shiny finish.
So, for today's post I thought I would introduce you to the top coats I use and love:
Sally Hansen Insta Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat
Kiko Gel Look Ultra Glossy Effect Top Coat
Boots No7 Stay Perfect Top Coat Touch dry in 60 seconds
The first quick drying top coat I found was Sally Hansen Insta Dri, I was amazed when I tried it as it actually did dry really fast!  Previously 'quick dry' top coats I had tried were never really up to much and certainly weren't touch dry within a few minutes.  With Insta Dri your manicure really is touch dry within a few minutes, it also leaves a lovely glossy shine on your nails.  I find the wear time with this top coat really good, although it is prone to tip wear at times, especially if you type a lot like I do.  I would say this is my favourite top coat although it's not my most used, simply because it can be quite costly if you go through as many bottle as I do!
The second top coat I tried was another I didn't really have high hopes for initially.  I first tried Boots No7 Stay Perfect Top Coat when I had a £5 voucher that needed using up and I had run out of nail colours to use it on.  With a voucher this top coat comes in at £2 which is a great price for a product which really does work.  The bottle says 'touch dry in 60 seconds' and it actually lives up to it's promise!  This is the top coat I use most often nowadays, simply because it's easy to get hold of, it's a great deal when the Boots vouchers are on and it really does work.  My nails dry fast, the polish lasts well and they look shiny and glossy just like you'd want.  Of the three this would be my top pick, for the money it just can't be beaten (although I wouldn't pay full price (£7) for it).
Finally, a recent edition to my collection, Kiko Gel Look Top Coat, this was sold to me as being the same finish as you'd get with a gel manicure cured under UV lights, never having had a gel manicure I can't really comment on how similar the finish is but what I can say is that this is another fast drying, ultra glossy look top coat which I really like.  The one issue I have had with it was that it tends to bubble slightly in the bottle meaning tiny bubbles can be carried onto your nails which then leave little holes and imperfections in the polish.  I've only had this issue when it's been a lot warmer, never at home in Scotland, so it's really only worth mentioning if you happen to live somewhere where heat may be an issue, not the UK then!  If you live in cooler climes then this one is definitely worth trying out.
I rarely experience shrinkage with any of these top coats, the worst offender is the Sally Hansen and even then it happens very, very rarely so it isn't something I would highlight as an issue at all with any of these top coats.  I also find they all work well over my stamping manicures and don't tend to drag the polish or smudge and smear my stampied images.  If I'm using them over stamping then I tend to apply a thicker layer and sort of float it over the whole nail rather than dragging the brush through the stamp too much, but even when I am less careful applying them I've never had much of an issue with them dragging or smearing my work.
With all of these top coats you can still dent or smear your polish, they aren't rock solid immediately but they dry fast enough that if you have to you can have 3 coats of polish and the top coat on and dry well within half an hour which for me is good enough.  I'm sure they are often dry sooner but 30 minutes is the minimum amount of time I tend to leave myself.
A good top coat will definitely make the difference but I still like to allow as long a time as possible to make sure my nails are properly set, for this reason I tend to paint my nails in the evening while watching TV so they get a good chance to set before I go to bed or have to go and do anything.
The major benefit for me with all these top coats is the shiny, glossy finish and the extended wear time of my polishes combined with knowing that if I did have to do my nails in a hurry I would have a good chance of getting out the door without them all being chipped within 5 minutes!
What top coats do you use?


  1. from where did u get sally hansen insta dry ??

    1. Sometimes I buy it in Boots or Superdrug if it's on offer but usually I hunt about online as you can generally get it a couple of pounds cheaper from random beauty websites.

  2. I love the sally hansen one, its amazing but as you say its a little expensive for everyday usage. I need to try out the No.7 one when I get a voucher :)

    1. You definitely ahould, it's a really good copy of the SH one, I think.

      They've changed the bottle since the new look No7 counters came out so I am waiting for a voucher to buy the newer version and check it's still just as good. A friend told me the bottle was different so we're hoping it's just a cosmetic change and they haven't messed with the formula!

  3. HongKong Girl and Seche Vite are the only ones I have tried so far. I bought a huge bottle of HK girl after reading good reviews of it and it works very well and doesnt shrink like Seche vite. Will try the Boots one if i ever manage to get a voucher though lol xx

    1. I've just picked up a bottle of Seche Vite but I've heard it can shrink so I'm not sure if I'll like it!