13 Best Top Coat Nail Polishes Of 2022 For A New & Fresh Look

Protect your nails and let the nail art last longer for a well-manicured pair of hands.

By Chaitra Krishnan
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The best top coats for nails prolong the life of your manicure. They add a layer of shine and make your nails appear glamorous. These top coats also protect your nails by sealing your nail color with a covering layer. These are available in transparent plain or glittery finishes. A good quality top coat guards your nails against the harsh UV rays and keeps them looking fresh and new.

Who does not like well-manicured nails with a great nail polish color? There are a variety of nail colors and treatments available now to adorn our nails. The market is also full of brands offering the best top coats for nails that professionals use for manicures. To help you select the best one for yourself, we have curated a list of our favorites that are tried and tested by women worldwide. Keep scrolling to check them out and find the ones you like best!

Our Top PicksCheck Price
Best Glossy Finish:Mineral Fusion Top Coat Nail Polish - TransparentPrice on Amazon
Best Ultra-Shine Formula:Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat - ClearPrice on Amazon
Best Scratch-Proof Formula:OPI Top Coat - Protective High Gloss ShinePrice on Amazon
Best Long-Lasting Results:Essie Gel Couture Top Coat - Gel CouturePrice on Amazon
Best Quick-Drying:Beetels Gel Polish Top Coat - TransparentPrice on Amazon
Best Long-Lasting Product:CND Vinylux Long Wear Top Coat - ClearPrice on Amazon
Best Smudge-Proof Top Coat:INM Out The Door Top Coat Nail Polish - TransparentPrice on Amazon
Best Chip-Free Formula:EXCUSE ME Quick Dry Top Coat - GlossPrice on Amazon
Best Non-Staining Action:Sally Hansen Big Kwik Dry Top Coat - TransparentPrice on Amazon
Best Flawless Finish:Nail Tek Quicken Top CoatPrice on Amazon

What Does A Top Coat Do?

A top coat is a transparent liquid — sometimes plain and other times glittery, and here are a few things that they do.

  • Better finish – When you apply a layer of the best clear top coat, your nails get a smooth and faultless finish.
  • Quicker drying – Waiting for your nails to dry after applying nail paint can put you in a restless situation. To avoid this, you can get the best quick dry top coat and apply it to the nail paints to have them dried in no time.
  • Long-wear – Nail paints can get chipped and worn out within a few days of your manicure. You can find some best top coats to prevent chipping of the nail paints to make them last for a long time on your nails.
  • Nail plumping – Nails looking thin and lifeless? A plumping top coat can steal the limelight and make your nails look attractive and plump.
  • Shine/matte finish – You can get a normal gel paint and experiment with the gel or the matte look by applying the shiny top coat or the matte one.
  • UV protection – Just like your skin, the nails are prone to UV damage too. The UV inhibitor top coat can prevent damage and keep your nails looking fresh.

13 Best Top Coats For Nails That Love To Dazzle And Shine

1. Best Glossy Finish:Mineral Fusion Top Coat Nail Polish – Transparent

Need to keep your favorite nail color on your nails for a week or  more? Get this long-lasting and chip-resistant top coat nail polish. Apply flawlessly using its thick and broad brush, and watch it dry on your nails in less than a minute. Use it over and again without worrying about your nails turning yellow. Formulated with skin-friendly ingredients and absolutely no carbon, this top coat for nails can be safe and ideal for a glossy finish.

Pros

  • Leaping bunny certified (cruelty-free)
  • Carbon and camphor-free
  • Paraben-free
  • Quick-dry coat
  • Thick brush
  • Glossy finish

Cons

  • The nail paint might dry out the nails.

2. Best Ultra-Shine Formula:Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat – Clear

Deck up your nails with your favorite nail lacquer and give it an ultra-finish shine with Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat. It dazzles and shines without any UV or HD light. Do not waste time waiting for your nails to go dry as this high-shine top coat can dry the nail paint in seconds. It smoothes your nail and keeps your nail color from fading for up to 2 weeks. Made with a nail-friendly formula, your nails do not get stained nor turn yellow when you put this on. This video offers a more detailed explanation of the product.

Pros

  • Top-rated top coat nail polish
  • No stain and harm
  • Cruelty-free
  • 100% vegan
  • Ultra-shine formula

Cons

  • May offer a gummy texture.

3. Best Scratch-Proof Formula:OPI Top Coat – Protective High Gloss Shine

Did you make a blunder while applying your nail paint? Hide the flaws and stroke patterns with OPI High Shine Top Coat. It spreads evenly and smoothly on your nails to give them a high-end shine and glossy appearance. This can be the best matte top coat for nail art as it prevents smudging and staining of nail paints. Use it regularly and yet find no yellow discoloration of your nails.

Pros

  • High shine
  • Scratch-proof
  • Stainless
  • Flawless coverage
  • No smudging

Cons

  • The top coat might not be suitable for

4. Best Long-Lasting Results:Essie Gel Couture Top Coat – Gel Couture

A high gloss top coat nail polish in your buying list? Essie Gel Couture Top Coat is one of the glossy professional top coat nail polishes used in many salons. This gel-like top coat works best on gel nail paints and enriches the shine and glossy appearance. You get an even spread with its broad and flexible applicator brush. The coat dries quickly and keeps the nail paint looking new for more than a week. Get flawless finish and pretty nails in no time and keep your nails looking amazing.

Pros

  • Gel-like glossy finish
  • Long-lasting nail polish top coat
  • Dries quickly
  • Chip and fade resistant
  • Stainless lacquer

Cons

  • The top coat may not look good on matte nail paints.

5. Best Quick-Drying:Beetels Gel Polish Top Coat – Transparent

Nails, nail paints, and even artificial nails, add that extra glossy finish and prevent the gel nail polish from fading using Beetels No Wipe Gel Top Coat. It is called no wipe because of its smudge-proof coating that covers wet and sticky residue of nail paint. You can call it the best long-lasting top coat as it keeps the nail paint intact and free from fading for up to  21 days. The nail coat is free from toxins and has a low odor to keep your nails safe from stains.

Pros

  • No chip top coat
  • For real and artificial nails
  • Paraben-free
  • Low odor
  • Quick-dry coat

Cons

  • Might cause skin allergies, in rare circumstances

6. Best Long-Lasting Product:CND Vinylux Long Wear Top Coat – Clear

Nail paints do not last long? Keep your favorite nail color for weeks by applying only a layer of CND Vinylux Long Wear Top Coat. Formulated with Cellulose Acetate Butyrate, this nail coat protects your nails from turning yellow. Its Pro-light Technology makes your nails durable and strong in the presence of natural light. Do you need something better than this? This shiny top coat glides smoothly and covers your entire nail flawlessly — thanks to its flat and wide applicator brush. Get this top coat and flaunt your nails as they turn healthy and strong. You may check this video for a better understanding of this product.

Pros

  • Makes nails durable
  • Prevents yellow stains
  • Long-lasting
  • No-chip formula
  • Easy to apply

Cons

  • Might take a pretty long time to wipe off/remove.

7. Best Smudge-Proof Top Coat:INM Out The Door Top Coat Nail Polish – Transparent

Late for a party and your nail polish hasn’t dried yet? INM Out The Door Top Coat Nail Polish can be your savior. Its super dry technology can dry the base coat and nail color in less than 45 seconds. You heard it right! This is the best quick dry top coat nail polish according to most nail polish top coat reviews, and is safe for multiple uses. Your nails are protected and do not turn yellow, and you can use it to dry nail art too.

Pros

  • Super-dry lacquer
  • Smudge-proof
  • Stainless
  • Glossy finish
  • Safe for all

Cons

  • Not long-lasting

8. Best Chip-Free Formula:EXCUSE ME Quick Dry Top Coat – Gloss

EXCUSE ME Quick Dry Top Coat is the best glossy top coat that not only dries quickly, but also makes your nail healthy, strong, and durable. The top coat adheres to the nail polish coat and dries it quickly. Its long-wear properties prevent the nail paint from chipping and peeling for weeks. You can go ahead and use this on nail extensions and artificial nails, and they will shine out to look beautiful.

Pros

  • Quick-dry technology
  • Long-lasting
  • Makes nails strong
  • No chipping and peeling
  • For natural and artificial nails

Cons

  • May not be ideal for professional use

9. Best Non-Staining Action:Sally Hansen Big Kwik Dry Top Coat – Transparent

A thick coat of nail polish taking time to dry? Sally Hansen Big Kwik Dry Top Coat is the best top coat nail polish that dries the thickest nail polish in no time. The smudge-proof formula of this top coat glides smoothly over the thick nail paint or even the most layered nail art, and covers them neatly without smudging. It adds extra shine and gives a polished look to the nail. You can use it without worry as it does not stain your nail, but makes it stronger and more durable. This video review will help you learn more about the product.

Pros

  • Strong nails
  • Smudge-free
  • Super-fast drying
  • No-stain

Cons

  • Dries fast on the shelf

10. Best Flawless Finish:Nail Tek Quicken Top Coat

The Nail Tek Quicken Top Coat is the best nail top coat formulated for natural nails. Formulated to give the ultimate care for your nails, they make your nails durable and keep them free from developing a yellow stain. Its adhesive property makes it smoothly spread on the nail paint coat to give a sheer finish. Your nail paint stays longer on your nails without chipping and fading when you use this to uniquely define your nails.

Pros

  • No chipping and peeling
  • Protection from yellow stains
  • Formulated for natural nails
  • Smooth and flawless finish

Cons

  • Does not accelerate drying time

11. Best For Daily Use:Ella+Mila Nail Care Fast-Drying Top Coat – In A Rush

For days when you have no time or patience waiting for your nail paint to dry, the Ella+Mila Nail Care Fast-Drying Top Coat will come to your rescue. It can dry up to 4 coats of nail polish in less than 3 minutes. The smudge-proof formula can dry the nail art quickly and prevent the art and paint from peeling and chipping off. Formulated with UV inhibitors, this is the best nail polish top coat that protects your nails from turning yellow.

Pros

  • UV Inhibitors to prevent yellow staining
  • Smudge-proof
  • No peeling and chipping
  • Dries quickly

Cons

  • Not recommended for pregnant women.

12. Best Nail Protection:Poshe Super-Fast Drying Top Coat -Transparent

Apply your favorite nail paint and layer it with Poshe Super-Fast Drying Top Coat and let it dry quickly without smudging. Not only this, but it also  enhances the color of the nail paint, making  it look more appealing. Now, have nails that shine and capture the limelight with only 1 stroke of this high-quality top coat. Your nails are safe from getting stained, and the formulation prevents it from cracking and breaking. Apply this no-peel top coat and have nails that look the best.

Pros

  • Nail protection
  • No-staining
  • No peeling and chipping
  • Enhances color
  • Smudge-proof

Cons

  • May not beot long-lasting

13. Best Vegan Formula:Smith And Cult – Glossy And Protective Nail Top Coat – Above It All

How long do you want your nail paint to stay on your nails? If you want it to stay for over 2 weeks without peeling, fading, and getting chipped, here is the solution! Get the Smith And Cult – Glossy And Protective Nail Top Coat that not just protects your nail paint, but also your nails. Yes, your brittle nails grow stronger and do not crack or turn yellow when you use this nail top coat! It is free of camphor and other harmful chemicals to give your nails a smooth and high shine finish.

Pros

  • Vegan
  • Cruelty-free
  • Smudge-proof
  • Glossy finish

Cons

  • Not long-lasting

These are good top coats for nails that you can try. How do you choose the best one? Here is your buying guide to choose the perfect top coat.

What To Look For In A Top Coat Nail Polish

  • Smudging
    The first thing you need to see when you choose a top coat is if it is smudge-proof. There are a few top coats that quickly adhere to the wet nail paint without smudging the nail art on the nails. The other kind of top coat needs to be applied on a dried nail paint coat as it could blend with the nail color and smudge it. The best choice would be the smudge-proof ones.
  • Drying time
    Not all the top coats are made to dry the nail paints quickly. There are a few of the nail top coats that are only for shine and shimmer. If you need a top coat that dries your nail paint soon, there are many such polishes available. There are top coats that dry the nails in seconds, and some take a few minutes. Choose the best one according to your needs.
  • Finish Type
    Top coats are generally purchased to give a sheer glossy finish on the nail and the nail paint. However, you can get a glittery finish and a matte finish too. While the ultra-glossy ones make your nails look plump, the matte finish ones define your nails in a unique way and are the new trend.
  • Endurance
    Sometimes, well-manicured nails and even the ones that have the most beautiful nail art look faded and ugly as the nail paints get peeled and chipped. A good nail paint top coat can hold the nail paint and design on the nail for the longest time. Some good top coats last for 2 weeks and even more, and this can be a great pick for you.

How To Apply Top Coat For Nails

  • Step 1 – Always start with a base coat. The base coat is a transparent lacquer that evens your nails and provides a good surface for the nail paint to easily spread on.
  • Step 2 – Start applying the nail enamel or paint of your choice. Spread it evenly on your nails and wait for 2 minutes. Apply the second coat again.
  • Step 3 – Apply the top coat over the nail paint. Start from the middle and then apply on the sides with broad strokes. Wait for 2 minutes and apply the second coat of the transparent top coat for better shine.

This article has taken you in and out of what top coats are, how to choose the best one, and how to apply them perfectly. Top coats do not just give a sheer gloss or protection to your nail paint, but also ensure your new manicure stays on for longer. Have you tried using glitter for your nails? Go creative with different colors of glitter and shimmer, and hold them in place with the nail polish top coat. With our list of the  13 best top coats for nails of 2021, we’re sure you’ll find your perfect nail match. Make the right choice and get perfect nails that make you look gorgeous.

Why Trust StyleCraze?

The author, Chaitra Krishnan, is a beauty and makeup enthusiast who loves trying products that take your makeup and beauty routine a notch higher. While she knows that most of you may like just a regular change of nail paint to match your outfit, she is here to urge you to apply a top coat to make your manicure last longer. After considerable research and trying out a few for herself, she has specially curated this list of the top 13 top coats for your nails. These not only make your nail polish last longer but protect and strengthen your nails as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I apply a top coat for nails?

You can apply a top coat nail polish on well-manicured nails that are painted with your favorite nail color. Use the top coat to add an extra sheer glossy effect and to make the nail paint dry quickly.

Can we use a top coat as a base coat for nails?

Base coat and top coat nail polish are two different lacquers. The base coat is generally formulated to give a smooth and even finish to the nails before they get painted with nail colors. The top coat on the other hand dries the nail paint soon and gives a glossy finish to the nails.

Is it good to use a gel top coat over regular nail polish?

Yes, of course. The gel top coat adds the much-needed plumping effect on the nails and makes them look glossy. A gel top coat can hold regular nail paints without getting chipped and peeled for a long time.

Does a top coat strengthen nails?

Apart from keeping the nail color on for the longest time, the top coat protects the nails from weather conditions. It keeps them hydrated and protected from UV rays and other chemicals, thereby making them strong and durable.

Does a top coat help nails grow?

Some top coats make the nails durable and strong and prevent breakage and cracking. In this way, the nails grow long and strong.

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Chaitra has a triple main bachelor’s degree in journalism, communicative English, and economics from St. Aloysius College, Mangalore, and a... more

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