I know that I included fast drying topcoats in my “how did I ever live without them?!” list, but that doesn’t mean they’re all I ever use to finish off a paint job. Using the right tools for any task is critical when it comes to achieving the best possible end result, and sometimes the right tool simply isn’t a topcoat that dries in double quick time.
It’s worth knowing the limitations of any product, I reckon, so here’s my take on what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s indifferent about quick drying and common-or-garden topcoats, and the lowdown on when you should be choosing one over the other.
Use for: ‘Curing’ thick layers of nail polish, sealing nail art (thicker formulas pool rather than dragging across designs), smoothing over the rough texture of glitter, finishing a manicure when time is of the essence.
- Pros: Sets quickly to a hard finish that’s impervious to dinges and dents as well as hatchmarks from your bedsheets, most are self levelling.
- Cons: Shrinkage, tip wear, more prone to chipping, initially shiny finish can dull down quite quickly.
I’ve had one or all of these issues with all the quick drying topcoats I’ve tried, including Seche Vite, Poshe, Revlon, Nails Inc, and Sally Hansen Insta-Dri.
To be clear, I’m not saying for a minute that their shortcomings mean dry fast topcoats should be tossed. In fact, I think the right one (Seche Vite and Sally Hansen get my vote) makes an invaluable addition to any manicure kit. Get thee a bottle with the quickness if the palaver around waiting for your nail polish to dry puts you right off bothering to paint your talons.
Use for: Giving longevity to a solid colour paint job where two thin layers of colour have been applied.
- Pros: Harder wearing (resists tip wear and chipping, no shrinkage issues), longer-lasting high shine finish.
- Cons: Can take absolutely bloody aaages to totally dry. As in hours on end, and don’t plan on being able to use paws at all in the interim: going to the loo before starting on your nails is a must with these. Your best bet is to use ‘em during a movie marathon or while getting stuck in to a box set of Mad Men or True Blood or whatever you’re having yourself. Just go easy on the liquid consumption…
Essie Super Duper is my personal ornery topcoat of choice, FYI, and it’s the one I pitted against its quick drying cousins mentioned above to test and compare performance.