The quest for the shiniest nails possible is the bane of my existence. I long for the shine shellac nails give, however, with owning a ridiculous amount of nail polish (over a hundred - yikes!) and spending far too much money on vanity related things as it is, spending even more money getting my nails done just isn't something I want to invest in. I've tried out my fair share top coats, so I thought I'd share my opinions on them and let you in on a little secret that I think has finally conquered this quest for high-gloss shellac-esque nails.
When I first got into wearing base and top coats, it was all about OPI Start to Finish Base & Top Coat. I thought, 'Oh great, a nail polish that does it all!' because as much as I love my nail polish, manicuring your own nails can be a tedious task. It doesn't really provide any shine, but back then, I just wanted to protect my nails from chipping, so I simply use this as a base coast now. It's nothing amazing, but as my nails are pretty strong and in good condition, I don't need anything fancy. I've never found this to stain my nails, which is all I really look for in a base coat, so for that reason alone, I'll continue to repurchase this and I'm already on my second or third bottle.
I had contemplated trying out the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, which everyone seems to love, and while I'm not someone who's too overly concerned with product ingredients, I just couldn't bring myself to purchase something that comes with such a warning. I guess it wouldn't be on the market if it was really that bad, but buying something that may cause birth defects freaks me out a little. I don't even know if I want kids, but I would never sacrifice them for shiny nails! I thought I'd found "the one" when I purchased the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat next. I was blown away. From the first coat I used, I couldn't stop staring at my nails because I'd never seen them so glossy before. I loved it all throughout last year and it even made it into my Best Products of 2013. Things took a turn for the worse, however, when I got just a little over half way through my bottle and it became incredibly gloopy. At first I didn't mind so much, but it got to the point where it just became unusable. I know that you can get nail polish thinners and I understand that if this was an old bottle I'd had for years, but I'd only had this for about a year and I was not impressed. What's the point in buying something you can't even use up in its entirety? I threw it in the bin.
I spoke to Jennifer about my top coat dilemma (it's a real thing) and she recommended I try out the Ciaté Speed Coat Fast Dry Top Coat. I love this girl and her taste is on point, so I knew I couldn't go wrong. I've had this bottle for a few months now and as it's a thinner formula in comparison to Sally Hansen, there hasn't been any gloopiness whatsoever. As it as shiny as Sally Hansen? Well, I think it's just that little bit more than Ciaté, but I don't find that bothersome at all. It does kind of wear off really weirdly though. After a couple of days, the actual nail polish colour won't chip, but the layer of top coat starts peeling off and it's so bizarre! Perhaps it's a good thing that it leaves the nail polish colour behind, but as I remember hearing good things about the Dior Gel Coat, I couldn't help but give in to this too.
As like with the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat, I couldn't stop staring at my nails upon first application of the Dior Gel Coat. They were super shiny and I thought, 'This is it!'... until I started noticing tiny cracks in my nail polish. Maybe it's not that big a deal, but if I'm going to spend $39 on a freaking nail polish, this top coat should be able to stand the test of time. Unfortunately, it would start chipping after a couple of days (my nails usually go about four or five without) and it really bummed me out that even after reading reviews, I had spent so much money and still wasn't 100% satisfied.
Not letting any more money go to waste, I conducted my own little experiment by using both the Ciaté and Dior top coats together. After applying my nail polish colour of choice, I went ahead and applied one coat of Dior, followed by one coat of Ciaté. Did it work? Oh, hell yes. My nail polish can go a good five or six days without chipping and even after wearing my current nail polish for over a week now, most of it still remains intact. The Dior Gel Coat provides that beautiful gloss I'm after, while the Ciaté Speed Coat Fast Dry Top Coat helps it stay put, and together they make the perfect pair. I've learnt that it doesn't have the same effect if you apply them the other way around, so keep that in mind if you try this for yourself. Perhaps it's a little bit of a faff and I suppose only time will tell if these end up glooping on me too, but I'll be sure to let you know. For now, I'm not complaining because I get those high shine nails I'm after and my moneys worth out of these two products I now adore.