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Best Quick-Drying Top Coats

A manicure is only as good as the top coat you use...


How many times have you smudged a nail on the way out of the salon? It's not about your polishing technique, the type of nail polish, or even your nail length. The #1 reason nails smudge comes down to one very simple thing: The type of top coat you use.

All top coats are not created equal, and unless you're using one of these quick-dry formulas, your polish is liable to smudge up to an hour after you leave! Speed up your drying time and take advantage of modern technology with a top coat that thoroughly seals polish as it dries into a high-shine, hard finish. These tried-and-true formulas can do it in minutes.

1. Seche Vite

If you ask most nail pros, they'll tell you that Seche Vite is their favorite quick-drying top coat. This super-thick formula glides over polish easily, but dries very quickly to a glass-like finish to protect your nails. The first time you use it, you wont believe just how quickly and how well it does the job. Just five minutes after applying Seche Vite, you can go about your day (carefully, please!) and complete many simple tasks. Still, you should save things like rummaging through a bag or doing laundry for a good half hour to an hour later, when all layers of your polish have thoroughly dried. If you want to know just how much I love this top coat, I keep two full bottles in my dresser as backup at any given time. I also bring it with me if I get a salon manicure, as many nail salons don't use a top quality top coat -- and if they do, they often charge extra for it.

Seche Vite is available at most drug and beauty supply stores. Price: $9.95 at Ulta.

2. Poshe

This super-thick top coat is like a coat of armor for nails. It creates a shiny, hard shell in just minutes, and you'll love knowing the manicure you just took time to complete is not going to be ruined within seconds of finishing (been there, done that). One caveat: Because of the formula's thickness, it can be prone to hardening with repeated use as you expose the formula to the air, but only when you get toward the end of the bottle. To extend the life of the formula for as long as possible, minimize the exposure to air by applying quickly and capping tightly, and keep it away from heat and direct sunlight, which can cause the polish to thicken and turn goopy.

Poshe is available at beauty supply stores. Price: $7.69 at Sally Beauty.

3. Essie Good to Go

Women around the world rely on Essie for its huge library of trendy nail polish colors and constant new innovations in the color department. But too many don't take advantage of Essie's great nail care line, which has plenty of fabulous cuticle products, base coats, and strengtheners, including their famous Good to Go top coat. It's a reliable polish sealant that creates a high-shine finish and dries polish in under 10 minutes every time. Many nail salons use Good to Go, and if you sit through two back-to-back cycles under the UV dryer after applying it, you're almost guaranteed to arrive home with no smudges.

Good to Go is available at most drug and beauty supply stores. Price: $7.79 at Target.

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