How To Use Top Coat Nail Polish

If you have ever considered doing an at-home manicure, you have probably wondered how to use and apply top coat nail polish

Sure, salons use and recommend this product all the time, but is it necessary for an at-home manicure session? 

The short answer is yes. 

Top coats ensure that your nail colors remain protected against damage and help your nails retain their color for a longer time. 

But how do you apply top coat? And when should you apply it? It’s not like your local manicurist will necessarily want to tell you all their secrets. 

That’s why we’ve outlined how exactly to use and apply a top coat. We’ve also explained just why a top coat is so important.

What This Article Covers:

How To Use Top Coat Nail Polish

When To Apply Top Coat

If you are trying to replicate a salon manicure at home, you are going to apply your top coat last. 

A general rule of thumb is that you start with a base coat, after which you apply two layers of your chosen color and finish it off with one layer of top coat. 

If you are wondering how many layers of nail polish that equals, the answer is four in total. 

It may seem excessive to some, but the results are amazing and your color is sure to last longer if you apply this number of layers in this specific order. 

You also might be wondering how long to wait between nail polish coats and how long to wait after applying color to apply your top coat. 

You’ll want to wait at least two minutes after applying your second layer of color before you apply your top coat. 

After that, you pretty much just need the top coat to dry before engaging in activities that can affect your manicure. 

The amount of time it takes the top coat to dry varies from product to product. 

For example, fast-drying nail polish top coat dries as you apply it, so you will pretty much be done after applying the last layer. 

Other top coats may take up to two minutes to dry. 

How To Apply Top Coat

Applying top coat is a lot like applying nail polish and you want to ensure that the entire nail is covered. 

To apply the top coat, begin down the center of the nail to avoid the top coat from accumulating around the cuticle area then work your up in quick strokes. 

Ensure that there is the right amount of top coat when you paint and be sure to remove any excess top coat before you start applying it. 

The top coat is applied in a thin layer and if you do paint your finger by accident, just quickly remove it with an ear swab. 

Remember to always shake the top coat bottle before you start applying it. 

Final Remarks

Top coat mostly exists as a way to protect your nails from chipping and damage. 

But, a top coat can also greatly enhance the appearance of your color and shine. 

All in all, it helps your nails or manicure achieve a more “finished” look. 

But to achieve this, you need to apply at the correct time and in the correct manner. It is absolutely essential for anyone who wishes to replicate the salon look at home. 

This is why it is such a popular product and probably why it is a good investment for your nails. 

How To Use Top Coat Nail Polish (FAQ)

using clear nail polish

What is the difference between a top coat and clear nail polish?

A top coat is a specialized product used for manicures to protect the color and shine of your nail polish. 

In the case of clear nail polish vs top coat, some people consider top coat to be a type of clear nail polish but most clear nail polish only exists as “colorless” nail polish with no additional benefits such as protection against damage

Do you use a top coat on matte nail polish?

Putting on a normal top coat will “ruin” the matte look so be sure to only use the best matte nail polish top coat to retain the matte look of your nails.  

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