I've always been a proponent of a DIY manicure, as much for the fact that I find it to be relaxing as it is a huge money saver. But every time I sit on my couch waiting for freshly painted nails to dry, I'm reminded why a trip to the salon is so appealing — I hate the wait. And I know I'm not alone, because that's exactly why the best quick-dry top coats were invented. Though they look like your average top coat, these quick-drying formulas set your polish in one minute or less, so you can text your friends or grab a cookie (you know, all the important things) without worrying about smudges.
To discover which quick-drying top coat is right for you, first, consider what finish you want your manicure to have. A high-shine top coat will give you a classic glossy effect, while a matte option will create a shine-free finish.
But did you know that you could also be sabotaging a faster-drying manicure if you're not painting your nails correctly in the first place? Be sure to stick with thin, even coats of polish, letting each layer fully set before adding another coat. If you glop on your polish, those thicker layers will naturally take longer to fully dry (and are usually the reason behind polish that gets dented).
Ahead, you'll find five of the best quick-dry top coats on Amazon — whether you prefer a shiny, gel-like finish or a gloss-free matte.
1. The Overall Best: An Award-Winning Top Coat That Professionals Love
This fast-drying top coat has won several different beauty and nail awards (including two Allure Best of Beauty awards), and I've spied it in more than one nail salon over the years. The Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat comes in a pack of two, and it promises to leave nails with a glossy finish that mimics a gel manicure. In addition to locking in your nail polish, Seche Vite helps prevent natural nails from staining or turning yellow, and it can be used on artificial nails and extensions, too.
2. Runner-Up: A Drugstore Go-To That Prevents Chips For 10 Days
If you don't need (or want) two bottles, there's another classic quick-dry option: the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat. The paint-on top coat dries nails in about 30 seconds because of the acrylic polymer used in the formula that hardens and dries polish to the touch faster. Sally Hansen's formula leaves behind a high-shine finish that helps lengthen the life of your polish by preventing chips for up to 10 days. The fast-drying formula also contains UV filters to protect the nail color.
3. The Best Quick-Drying Drops
Instead of painting your fast-drying top coat over your polish, you can seal your manicure by dispensing a few of these OPI Drip Dry Lacquer Drying Drops on top. While I'm not sure if a dropper necessarily works better (though it's definitely more fun to apply), the formula behind these fast-drying drops definitely makes a difference, thanks to cuticle-conditioning jojoba oil and vitamin E. One reviewer even called them, "The only drying drops that work."
4. The Best Quick-Dry Top Coat For A Matte Finish
While most opt to go glossy, if you want to switch up your manicure, try this Sally Hansen Big Matte Top Coat. The fast-drying formula works double-duty to transform any shiny polish into a matte, velvet-like finish while locking your lacquer into place with just one coat. It's also an Amazon favorite with over 700 five-star reviews.
One reviewer commented, "I purchased this to avoid buying expensive matte nail polish since I already own a ton of different nail colors. I have used it a few times and it works so well! Turns any very shiny polish into a gorgeous matte color!" Another fan found an alternative use for the polish: "One coat, dries very matte, no sheen. Covers up cracks and dimples in old toenails."
5. The Best 7-Free Quick-Dry Top Coat
If you're particular about the ingredients that go into your nail polish, there's the Ella+Mila Fast-Drying Top Coat. This vegan top coat is "seven-free," meaning it doesn't contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), camphor, TPHP, or xylene. These chemicals are commonly found in nail polishes (though more and more brands are taking steps to eliminate at least some of them), and they're said to pose various health risks with continued exposure. Though this top coat isn't as fast-drying as some other formulas on this list, it can dry up to four coats of polish in under three minutes, and it's formulated with a UV inhibitor to prevent yellowing.
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