The Best Affordable Nail Polish Top Coats That Lend Salon-Worthy Sparkle And Shine


There's truly nothing worse than waiting what feels like eons for your manicure to dry only for it to chip it less than 24 hours later. Sure, you could go the gel route and skip the smudging all together (though, you risk making your nails weak or brittle) — or you could invest in one of the best nail polish top coats out there. Even better: They don't just help your manicure last for days on end, but they add megawatt shine, too.

But if you've ever tried replicating your on salon-worthy manicure at home, you may have ended up with sticky, gooey fingertips that smears your color instead of helping it shine. "Some top coats are actually meant to be sticky for maximum adhesion," Michelle Saunders, a celebrity nail artist who counts Kate Beckinsale and Taraji P. Henson among clients, tells TZR. "I like to paint top coats with slow and even strokes because wherever you apply it, that’s where the polish will adhere. Take your time. Some top coats take longer to dry especially if they are opaque."

The key to perfect coverage, according to international nail artist international nail artist Tracylee Percival, is the number of coats that you use. "Apply two thin coats, being sure to swipe over the free edge of the nail to seal the edge and ensure polish longevity," she says. "Let each coat dry in between. Then, remove any nail polish that may have gotten on the skin surrounding the nail prior to the top coat. This will allow the top coat to seal the color properly onto the nail."

Ahead, check out the celebrity manicurist-approved clear coats that ensure the glossiest fingertips possible.

"Hands down, the only top coat I pull out for my celebrity clients is this one by Essie. It dries super fast and has lasting shine," Saunders says.

"I love the fact that this top coat is dries fast and that the shine lasts for days," Karen Gutierrez, a celebrity nail stylist, says.

"The Gel Couture top coat is one I use the most. It dries super quick and gives a gel-like 'plump' to the nail," Percival says.

"This All In One is great to have in your arsenal, since you can use it as a base and a top coat," says celebrity nail artist Mar y Sol Inzerillo, who includes Oprah among her client list.

"Gel Lab top coat is my must have for red carpet. It's 7-free, vegan, has a dual patented technology that is unique, you get longer wear and a super cushiony shine," esteemed manicurist Deborah Lippmann says. "It is the healthy alternative to a product that has to be cured, or a dip that you are using nail glue for adhesion."

This high gloss top coat is a favorite of Tom Bachik, a celebrity manicurist who works with Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and Victoria Beckham. It offers a non-yellowing coat to your favorite polish.

This Ella + Mila top coat is a favorite that Gutierrez likes to use. The top coat adds a glossy layer to your manicure and makes sure both the coat and polish dry fast.

Another favorite of Gutierrez, this top coat has the durability of gel polish without a damaging effect on the nails. The top coat helps to prevent unsightly yellowing, too.

Bachik also recommends this pick. The formula makes your nails more durable and keeps your manicure fresh and glossy for week-long wear.

"7 True is an indie brand that's new to me," Percival says. "The Top Coat is a fabulous product. I first used this finishing system while working with one of my celebrity clients, and it's so good! It dries super fast, and the polish lasts forever."

This favorite of Saunders is unique because it's equipped with a one minute dry-to-the-touch effect, and reduces drying time to five minutes.

"This is a great top coat too. It's a super high gloss, with gel-like shine and anchors polish for more extended wear. The polish is said to last about 11 days, but I've gone longer," Percival says.

Sure, you won't find this Chanel top coat in the drugstore, but it's a favorite of celebrity manicurist Ashlie Johnson, who works with Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson, and Jessica Biel. The gel-like texture extends the life of any Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour by seven days, and is activated by natural light.