Last updated: August 13, 2021

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In this article we will talk about top coat, a product capable of extending the duration of the nail polish!

This item is a finisher for the nails that can be applied under any nail polish. After application it forms a protective layer that not only increases the durability of the enamel, but also protects the nails and enhances finishing effects. If you are interested in keeping your nails even more beautiful, check out all our tips below!


  • All top coats help the enamel to last, but each one offers a different type of finish.
  • The top coat should be applied on the entire length of the nail, otherwise it may wrinkle or crack the enamel.
  • Some top coats only dry in UV cameras.

The Best Top Coat: Our Picks

Buying Guide

Knowing more about top coats is essential for you to make a good choice when buying them. Knowing this, we have created a Purchasing Guide where we explain all the characteristics of the product.

We have also talked about some variations of the product and what are the peculiarities of each one. Check it out!

Imagem da mão de uma mulher com esmalte holográfico.

The top coat is a product used on top of the nail polish. (Source: Anton Papulov / 123rf)

What is top coat?

Top coat is a finishing product for nails, which should be used under the enamel. Its main function is to ensure greater durability of the enamel on the nail, in some cases the nail remains enameled for up to 10 days.

Although its main function is to prolong the life of the enamel, the top coat adds several other functions, including different effects, which vary according to the version of the product.

What are the advantages of the top coat?

In addition to providing greater durability of the enamel, the top coat is also able to intensify its colour or the effect that it has. Added to this is the correction of possible imperfections, such as bubbles and its function to speed up the drying process.

However, it is good to keep an eye on how to apply it and follow all the instructions to the letter. Otherwise, you will not have the desired effect or, even worse, your enamel will be defective.

Below we have prepared a table showing all the advantages and disadvantages of the top coat. Check it out!

  • Helps drying
  • Increases the durability of the enamel on the nail
  • Offers different effects
  • Corrects imperfections
  • Protects the enamel from scratches
  • May damage the enamel if applied incorrectly

What are the different types of top coat?

It is no news that women have always sought solutions to maintain the quality of the enamel for longer. And that is exactly what the top coat provided, after all this is its main function.

However, in addition, top coats also deliver different types of finishes. The extra-shiny top coat, for example, offers an ultra-shiny finish.

The gel type also delivers shine, but still protects the nails from possible damage. However, it is worth remembering that some of them need to dry in the UV cabin.

The matte version, in turn, can be used both to enhance the nail polishes that are already opaque as to leave a common nail polish with this finish.

There is also the holographic top coat that provides a coverage that oscillates the colour according to the light. In addition to these options, you can also find the top coat with glitter and those that provide 3D effect.

The top coat serves to make the enamel last longer. (Source: ferli / 123RF)

What is the difference between top coat and extra glossy enamel?

The top coat as well as the extra glossy enamel, ensures a shiny finish to the nails. However, in addition, it also extends the life of the enamel, ensures quick drying, among others.

To make the difference between these two products clearer, we created a table that compares the effects of both. Check it out!

Top coat Extra glossy enamel
Provides glossy finish Yes Yes
Speeds up the drying process Yes Depends on the product version
Eliminates imperfections Yes No
Protects nails Yes No
Has several versions with different effects Yes No

How to use top coat?

There are two ways to use top coat. We will explain better below!

  • With a brush: The same way you apply enamel with a brush, you can apply top coat with this accessory. Just pass the enamel and then apply it, even some top coats already come with the brush.
  • As a film: It is also possible to transform the liquid top coat into a thin film that can be "glued" on the nail. To do this process you will need to use the inside of a Tetra Pak box as a support to build the film.

On the inside of the box (remember that the milk carton is good), you should make a rectangle, a little bit bigger than your nail. This rectangle will need to be built up with 3 or 4 coats of top coat. This way, after the product dries, a thin, but resistant film will be formed.

After the liquid has dried, remove it with the help of tweezers and, using the same tweezers, glue the film to the nail.

Imagem das mãos de uma mulher com unhas rosa e uma das mãos aplicando um esmalte com glitter sob o esmalte rosa da outra mão.

You can apply the top coat with a brush or transform it into a film. (Source: Element5 Digital /

How to avoid top coat shrinking or cracking?

If applied incorrectly, top coat can cause the nail polish to shrink or crack. To avoid this type of situation it is important that the brush strokes or the gluing of the film completely cover the nail.

If there is any space left, whether on the side or on the tips, there is the risk of your enamel spoiling.

Therefore, the ideal is that you apply the product in abundance, even if it drips to the sides. In addition, it is important to pass the top coat under the still-wet nail polish. This will cause the products to blend, preventing the top coat from wrinkling the nail polish.

Purchase Criteria: What to consider before buying a top coat

After understanding the features and variations of top coat, it's time to make your purchase. But not before understanding what criteria to use to choose a product that meets your needs.

Therefore, we have separated the points that you should consider before making your purchase. Check them out!

  • Colour
  • Effect
  • Packaging
  • Hypoallergenic

Now that you know what to consider when buying, we will explain each criterion better below!


The first point to analyse when buying is the colour of the top coat. It is important that you buy a product that has the same colour as the nail polish or that is transparent.

Remember that the transparent version is even more indicated when you want extra shine or glitter effect.

But if you want a holographic top coat, you should know that the colour of the nail polish will not remain the same. Therefore, do not think about buying a model that enhances the colour of the nail polish but instead buy a top coat that has exactly the colour you want on the nail.

Imagem de três frascos pequenos e retangulares, cada um com o líquido interno de uma cor.

Buy a top coat that has the same colour as the nail polish or that is transparent. (Source: Suzy Hazelwood /


After choosing a top coat that matches the nail polish colour, it's important to think about what effect you want. For example, if you want to use a black nail polish you will need a clear or black top coat.

Note that there are several nail polishes with these colours with different effects. So, you should decide whether you want a black or transparent top coat that offers opaque, 3D or shiny effect.

Imagem de um frasco pequeno com líquido brilhante e esverdeado.

Each top coat offers a finishing effect. (Source: Suzy Hazelwood /


If you are allergic to nail polish or have sensitive skin it is very important to choose hypoallergenic top coats.

This type of product is tested by dermatologists and developed with ingredients that minimize the possibility of the emergence of allergies.


In general, top coats are sold in bottles similar to the ones used for nail polishes. This makes it very easy, because both to apply on the nails and to build the film you will need a brush.

However, some brands offer this product in bottles with screw caps. In this case, be aware that you will need to buy a separate brush or use the one for nail polish.

(Featured image source: / Valeria Boltneva)