If you're not convinced of the use for topcoat then you're not alone. Personally I never go without it, for two reasons - extended wear time, and shine. I have never got on board with the textured or matte trends, I want my mani to be so shiny that I can see my face in it, and for that we need serious topcoat. I'm also a busy girl, so I want my mani rock solid in minimal time too. Over the years I've flirted with many brands, perhaps my longest held darling was Seche Vite. In the end it was a bitter split, and I went off in search of the perfect topcoat to replace it. In this post I'm going to talk about several topcoats that I tried recently.
On the blogosphere SV is one of the most popular choices for a rock hard mani, superfast dry time, and bonkers shine. It is also equally well known for its foibles - by the time you reach halfway through the bottle it will become a gloopy gluey mess that will give you awful tip shrinkage and apply like a pig. This problem is so well known that SV themselves released a product called 'Seche Restore', which is basically Toluene with a dropper, to mix with your SV to make it liquid again. I know people that have had success with this, but I personally haven't. My SV went pink, and stayed gloopy. The other fact that works against SV is that it smells god awful, and the reason for that is that it's stuffed with every nasty ass chemical that all other polish brands advertise they're 'free' from. Yes ladies it turns out that rapid dry time, solid finish and shine are all the byproducts of the nasty chemicals. So let's take it as read that SV when it's behaving will give you undoubtedly the best top coat money can buy. It just might also give you a terrible deformity.
|Don't Get Your Tips out in Public! |
Seche Vite tip shrink at its worst (over China Glaze 'Howl You Doin?')
HK Girl by Glisten and Glow
|HK Girl by Glisten and Glow|
|Hairy Polish! HK Girl is a bad bad girl indeed.|
|HK Girl on a good day, lovely shine, but it will only last half a bottle|
(atop Liquid Sky Lacquer 'Strawberry Mojito')
Top Coat by OPI
Good lord this is AWFUL! My bottle was a little on the elderly side, so perhaps a bit thicker than a fresh bottle would be, which made application a sticky tricky mess. It bubbles and pits something terrible - my mani looked like I'd gotten the pox.
|Pox! Nail bubbles and pits with OPI topcoat. Urgh!|
|After two hours of dry time, this is what happened when I went to bed...|
(Disastrous OPI topcoat atop OPI 'Embarca Dare Ya')
CND Super Shiny vs. Essie Good to Go
|CND Super Shiny and Essie Good to Go|
|CND Super Shiny - notice the sheet dents on the middle finger|
(atop Colors by Llarowe 'Human Nature')
|Essie Good to Go - no dents at all|
|Spot the Difference?|
And the Winner IS....
In the end I went with the Essie, due to the lack of dents. I've been using it for a while now and I'm delighted with the results. Great shine, great weartime, fast drying and so far no downsides. I will be interested to see how it fares as the bottle wears down, so I'll follow this up if I find a gotcha later. I also really liked the CND. I liked the feel of the bottle, the ease of the applicator, the light smell, I think I'm likely to get a bottle of this in future too.
So there you have it. I hope my many spoiled mani's will be of some use to you!
Where to buy/What to pay
Seche Vite is widely available, shop around for bargains. I bought mine from QVC, Amazon and Nail Polish Direct. If you look hard you can usually find it for £5-6 a bottle. HK Girl is sold on Rainbow Connection for a similar price to SV. OPI topcoat is available from all OPI retailers like Sally's, Lena White, and is probably around £10-11. CND is available from Amazon for about £8. I bought my Essie from Boots for £8.95.