Monday 21 April 2014

Top Coats 101

Hi everybody
First off thank you so much for the warm welcome last Wednesday.  I had a great blog launch and all the feedback has been fantastic!
I hope everyone had a great Easter and got loads of chocolate! I'm back today with a comparison/review for you on Top Coats.  One of the most important part of a finished manicure! (No, its not optional either ;-))
It can be difficult knowing which top coat to choose, considering there are so many! I hope this comparison will answer all those questions you have, but if not, then you know what do to - send me an email by clicking here or leave a comment!
So, lets dive right in!
When looking for a good top coat, you look for 3 main things:
1. Fast drying - gone are the days running around your house, blowing your fingers attempting to speed up the drying of your finished mani - we want a top coat that can do this for us!
2. Add a beautiful shine - this is the most important part that really brings the "at home salon manicure" illusion to life.
3. Protect your nail art/manicure - we want our hard work to last. There's nothing worse than putting top coat over nail art for the design to be smudged or dented and therefore wasted.  What we do want is something that will protect this hard work from all elements and help it last a couple of days.
With all that in mind, I dug out some of the top coats I own to test them on the above 3 points.  The 5 top coats I will review are:

1. Sally Hansen - Double Duty, Strengthening Base & Top Coat
2. INM - Out The Door
3. nails inc. - Kensington Caviar Top Coat
4. Glisten & Glow - HK Girl Top Coat
5. Seche Vite

To start off with, I have added a some simple leopard print nail art to my nails.

I have chosen a white back-ground so that if any colour runs onto this, we will see it.  Furthermore, I waited a full 30 minutes before I started applying top coats.  This is the optimum time that you should try and leave a mani for before you apply top coat.  From our list earlier, we'll start with Sally Hansen - Double Duty Strengthening Base & Top Coat on my pointer finger...

We're off to a bad start... But like I said, I'm looking for 3 main things in a top coat (Fast drying, Add a beautiful Shine and Protect my work).  The drying time for this top coat was quite good, it was completely dry to touch in under 60 seconds.  This picture was taken in my light box, you can see a small shine present but nothing worth bragging about.  Lastly, has this protected my work? No. SCORE: 1.5/3

Next on my middle finger is INM Out The Door...

Wow. My design is almost unrecognisable! This is totally ruined my nail art - the formula is very thin, almost watery, so I think this is the reason why.  There is a shine, but again, I think this is because of my light box.  The only thing this top-coat has going for it is that it dried pretty quickly - but again, I think this is because the formula is very thin.  SCORE: 1/3 (For drying time only!).
On my ring finger I have my go-to brand nails inc...

I have heard so many good things about the Kensington Caviar top coat - yes, I am the one who religiously watches QVC when this brand is on, so you can imagine my excitement when I finally managed to get a hold of this top coat.  I have never been so disappointted.  The packaging advertises this, "45 Second Touch Dry" feature - I have to say, this is in fact true.  But the formula is like Out The Door, very very watery - I found it very hard to get any polish to stick to the brush.  There is a shine, and I think this is a combination between my light box and the polish itself, but my design is ultimately ruined.  The purple in my design is a nails inc polish, and it has even smudged that (not that that should matter...).   SCORE: 2/3 (For shine & dry time).
On my pinky finger, we have HK Girl Top Coat.  This is an Indie brand. For those of you who don't know what an indie brand is, it is short for Independent meaning hand made by someone like you or me, not a retail brand like nails inc or Sally Hansen.  You can only buy these polishes direct from the person who has made it or if you are in the UK through the Indie stocker Rainbow Connection.

I had heard good things about this top coat on Instagram; all positive comments about its drying time, shine AND how long it can help make your manicure last and I was super excited to finally have my own bottle, and boy, it did not disappoint. The shine on this is superb - my at home salon manicure is acheiable in this bottle alone.  The dry time is so impressive - quicker than the rest at just over 30 seconds.  My nail art has stayed in one place - no movement on any of the colours on the nail.  Furthermore, this can make a manicure last a good 3 days without looking tired or old.  (I havent tried any longer than 3 days without changing my nails anyway lol!) SCORE: 3/3.
Last but not least, is my old faithful Seche Vite on my thumb...

Seche Vite is like Mary Poppins in my opinion - Practically Perfect in every way. No streaks, fast drying and makes my manicure last and last and last.  I heard people on Instagram mention that Seche Vite was making their polish "Shrink" thus causing a bald area round the tip of the nail, but I have to say that I have never experienced this with this top coat.  It is easier to come by than HK Girl and comes in big bottles, normal bottles (pictured) and mini bottles - great for travelling.  SCORE: 3/3.
I have now compared all 5 top coats, which has left my manicure looking a little bit worse for wear!
5th: INM - Out the door. I would've given this a score of zero, but it did dry quickly - even if it did ruin my nail art.  Would not repurchase.
4th: Sally Hansen - Double Duty Strengthening Base & Top Coat. Dried quickly and had a small shine.  Always a bit dubious about something that is 2 things rolled into 1.  Would repurchase but to use as a base coat only.
3rd: nails inc - Kensington Caviar Top Coat. Dried quickly and had a medium shine.  So disappointed in my go-to brand.  Will not repurchase top coat but will continue to buy polish from nails inc as the colours and quality of them are superb.
2nd: Glisten & Glow - HK Girl Top Coat.  Even although this has the same score as first place (Seche Vite), I am placing it second because when I finish this bottle, I doubt I will repurchase.
1st: Seche Vite.  I have been using this top coat for a year now and I just wouldn't use anything else.  I am so impressed by everything it offers AND it is everything I want it to do as well.
So - what do you think?  Which top coat do you use & would you recommend it?  Leave a comment and let me know.  Also, if you haven't subscribed yet, then please feel free to do so by clicking the following link, not only will you receive an email each time I publish new content, you will also make my day - so what you waiting for? ;-)
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Unknown said...

I absolutely Loved your post. Tysm for reviewing these. I am a die hard Seche Vite girl that's my #1. I heard so many things about HK so I was going to try it but like you said it's hard to come by! Again ty for giving me clarification that I made the right choice in a Top Coat ♡

Saima's Salon said...

Hi Nicole, I have INM Northern Lights and find it pretty good over art but I rarely want a micro holo sparkle so I stick to HK these days. SV does shrink on me every time but I wrap the tips and it's okay but shrinking at the cuticle is worse to look at. I still have the refill bottle so I think I will go back to it. I also have 4 bottles of Nubar Diamont and Cult Nails Wicked Fast on reserve, WF is so good. x

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