How To: Choose the Perfect Top Coat

Top coats add staying power to any mani—neutral to nailartapalooza—but they rarely get the attention they deserve. This month, we’re turning the spotlight on this unsung, but totally crucial, member of your nail lineup.

Best in Show: Quick Dry Time

Got ants in your pants? Try a quick-dry product like Zoya Fast Drops. These are formulated with silicones that help the solvents in nail polish evaporate faster, cutting down on what can seem like an endless wait time. Note: Even with quick-dry products, make sure to give your nails at least five minutes resting time before touching anything. A few minutes of patience beats redoing a smudged mani.

Best in Show: Strengthening Shine

You’re fighting an uphill battle if you’re applying polish to dry, brittle, or peeling nails. Sound familiar? Try a top coat packed with proteins and natural botanicals to give your nails a little extra TLC. We swear by Deborah Lippmann Hard Rock Base & Top Coat, which gives nails that coveted glossy shine while fortifying with soy proteins and acoumea klaineana, a resin derived from West African trees that helps brittle and weak nails grow.

Best in Show: Matte Treatment

Matte top coats give your favorite shades a new outlook (and are hot for summer). Apply one or two coats of alessandro Top Coat Matte over any polish and watch it transform instantly. Try painting just the tips of your nails with matte top coat for a subtle French manicure, or apply it over glitter polish for subdued sparkle.

Best in Show: Chip Master

Nothing ruins a mani quicker than unsightly chips. You could spring for salon gel manis, but it’s just as easy to get the same long-lasting results at home. Deborah Lippmann’s Gel Lab is a two-step system that gives you a chip-proof, mirror-like finish. No drying lamp required.

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