Sep 252013

Dior Spring 2013 Nail composite

Although I love the convenience of a two-week UV gel cured manicure, I’ve been looking for ways to prolong nail polish wear that doesn’t involve the difficult acetone removal process that UV manicures appear to require. Toward that end, I’ve been playing with some of the “new generation” gel topcoats.  In early April 2013, I gave a preliminary report on Dior’s Gel Coat (reviewed here).

Dior Spring 2013 Nail Polish30

I got amazing longevity using Dior’s gel topcoat. My nails grew, protected by the tough topcoat. I got beautiful, glossy results that lasted for days longer than my usual topcoats. This gives a deep, glossy gel-like coat which dries hard but retains flexibility. In late June, I began to notice that I had used quite a bit of the Dior up, and that it was getting considerably thicker and goopier as the contents of the bottle went down.

Gel Topcoats 21

Around the end of June, I threw my Dior Gel Coat into a drawer and headed for Paris. While in the City of Light, I picked up Guerlain’s Le Topcoat Gel.  I found the Guerlain worked equally as well as Dior–given that the companies are owned by the same parent, they may be the same formula for all I know.  The key is, if you can’t find one, you can get the other and be assured of good results.  The benefit to the Guerlain is that it is $1 less, and has the ball bearings inside to keep the contents stirred.

Gel Topcoats 23

The Guerlain works beautifully, by the way. Although my bottle isn’t old yet, the hardening/goopiness doesn’t seem to be quite as bad with this one (however, I do shake those ball bearings up quite a bit).  To be honest, both of these formulas have given me unprecedented longevity for my nail polish–literally, days longer than normal and very little tipwear.  Still I would, occasionally, get chips with unusually heavy nail wear.

Gel Topcoats 15

Now for the secret sauce. Still not being satisfied with these superb results, I had heard that Revlon’s Colorstay Gel-Smooth Base Coat. The only place that I’ve found this so far is Target (accept no substitute). Using the Revlon Base Coat under my nail polish really eliminated the chipping, giving me near-perfect nails up to 3-5 days. Okay, so far so good with the Revlon Base Coat–but what about the Revlon Gel-Shine Top Coat (also pictured above)?  It is a thinner formula than Dior’s or Guerlian’s. It does does prolong my nail wear somewhat. However, the Revlon does not give me the lush gel-like glossy look of the Dior or Guerlain Gel topcoats. Also, the Revlon Top Coat does not give me quite the longevity and protection of the Dior/Guerlain (even when using two coats of the Revlon top coat).

Gel Topcoats 11

What of that bottle of Dior that was tossed into a drawer prior to Paris?  Regrettably, the contents became a gummy solid in the bottom of the bottle. I thought I’d try to revive it with Seche Restore— for more information about this miracle product, see Scrangie’s post here.

seche restore

I pulled out the old lab notebook like a high school science experiment.

Gel Topcoats 12

Sadly, the Dior was too far gone for this method to work. I basically ended up with a glacial-like substance with bits of liquid Seche Restore creating a little ice floe. My thesis proved incorrect, but that Dior was really far gone when I tried this. Perhaps I’ll try again with a bottle that has more life and get better results?

In summary, I found that using nail polish over Revlon Colorstay Gel Smooth Base Coat really adds wear time to my manicure. Then, adding either the Dior or Guerlain Gel topcoats gave me the closest thing to gorgeous, glossy and protected nails that I’ll obtain outside of a UV cured gel manicure. Using these products, I get 3-5 days of wear (which never happens), and a beautifully glossy, gel-like texture. For me, this wear time is highly unusual. I’ve heard of people getting longer wear but I’ve rarely gone this long. These all remove easily with a standard nail polish remover (no acetone needed). I love it. Of course, the downside is that one wants to use up the bottle that’s been opened (given my experience with the drying out of the Dior Gel). I’m concerned about storage for bottles once they’ve been opened.

Do you have any polish pointers?  Please share them… remember, sharing is caring!

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  25 Responses to “Sketchbook: Adventures in Prolonging Nail Polish Wear”

  1. Have you tried Tom Ford nail polishes. They last almost a week without any chipping. I am a mom, washing dishes etc.,,,That is why i buy only this brand now. You put it on your nail and do not need to worry for at least one week of reapplying!

  2. Aww I’m so sorry to hear about your bottle of Dior Gel Coat! I only use it on my toes and when I want my shimmery nail polishes to really stand out, so it hasn’t dried out too much yet. I was suspecting that though to be honest. The consistency is very thick to begin with!

  3. Thank you for this post. I am always astonished by the number of writers and bloggers who claim to get a week out of their manicures in brands and colours I wear and which I find show tip wear within 48 hours even with base and top coats. I don’t even do any housework! I am all set to try the top coats you mention now; I don’t believe the Revlon base is available in the UK.

  4. Thank you thank you for this comparison!!! Ive been eyeing both Guerlain and Dior’s topcoats but could not decide which one to get.

    And after in summary (above), did you mean using nail polish over REVLON BASE COAT? Or did you really mean to say gel top coat? Just clarifying. Thanks!

  5. Thanks very much for this great in depth review. I usually use Seche Vite topcoat but find it rather helping to dry fast and makes my nail polish appear freshly applied for a few more days but not necessarily preventing chipping. I tried also Dior Gel Topcoat, found that it worked better on Dior polishes. I think Seche Vite Restore might not have worked in Dior’s top coat because it is supposed to restore the ingredients (solvent) which are evoporated but Dior might have different solvent content. That said Seche Restore doesn’t even restore my thickened Seche Top Coat properly…
    I am now very curious about your reaction to Armani nail polish, because these do last remarkably longer (I am trying currently with Seche Vite Top Coat, 5 days, no tip wear yet). The lady at the counter told me that and I shrugged because it is told many times, but this time I am positively surprised.

    • I’ll try them Sara–they are just starting to appear at my local counters now! 🙂

    • I don’t like Seche Vite because toluene is the second ingredient. The Armani polishes, particularly the duochromes, look promising, but I wish they would have been in a larger size. They are only 6 ml.

  6. Thanks for the great review! I’ve found that the way I prep my nails and apply polish makes a huge difference in how long my manicure lasts. Normally I get 5-7 days with no chips and minor tip wear. My routine is:
    – Trim & file nails
    – Buff with a buffing block
    – Moisturize cuticles
    – Clean my nails with polish remover – this step is SO important! If I skip it my polish will flake off in a day or two.
    – Base coat (I use China Glaze Strong Adhesion)
    – Two coats of polish, wrapping the tips with the first coat (I use China Glaze, Zoya, Essie or Butter London, mostly)
    – One coat of Seche Vite, wrapping the tips (if I don’t wrap the tips it will shrink and make the polish chip)

    • Nicci, this sounds really good! I will definitely try out your technique as i normally get only 2 days of polish wear 🙂

  7. I don’t do my own nails – I get them done every 2 weeks (pedicure also – during the summer months – once a month the rest of the year). I had pink and white acrylics for years – only because I couldn’t keep polish on my nails for longer than a day or two without chipping – I work at a computer. Eventually, I got tired of both the look and the damage to my nails (even though that was minimal – my nail tech is very careful), so I let them grow out and I’m getting gel manicures now.

    I don’t find the removal that much of an issue – they soak my nails so there is minimal scraping. What I do like is the longevity – I get about 2 weeks without chipping, although occasionally I do get chips on one of two nails, but I can just pop in and get that taken care of if it really bothers me. Also, the instant dry is the best – the sitting around waiting for nails to dry is like torture!

    My only complaint is sometimes it’s difficult to find exactly the shade I want, even though my nail tech carries a tremendous variety!

  8. Great post – I’m always thinking the same kind thing….how long will my manicure last? I’ve grown tired of the gel manicures at my local salon and I like the freedom of being able to change my nail polish when I want. That being said, I was a devoted and loyal Seche user until Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab came around. I have to say that since then, it’s the only top/base coat I use (about 3+ months now). I’ve used it under/over Chanel, TF, Dior, YSL, Essie and Deborah’s own polishes and it is amazing. I should say that I’m a 9-5er and I do not have kids, so I’m not overly harsh on my hands/nails so your mileage may vary.

  9. Hi Amy,
    I have such a hard time with the Guerlain gel topcoat. I wonder if I have a defective bottle. The texture is very thick that’s it’s impossible to get a coat that is not overly thick over the nail polish. And for some really odd reason seems incompatible either with my nails or with my nail polishes and I see chips almost within the same day! It’s such a shame because the finish once dried is so shiny.

    I generally have very good wear with my normal routine. I always apply OPI Bond Aid, which really removes any oils and moisture before applying base and top coat (from Button London). I typically get 5 days with no chipping and then I get eventual tipwear. I guess I should just be glad my normal routine seems to work well.

  10. It is unfortunate that you Dior top coat gummed up on you. I’d be mad that 1/3 of a $24 topcoat was unusable. I like Deborah Lippmann’s On a Clear Day and Jinsoon’s Top Gloss. Both have thin formulas but dry quickly and leave nails very glossy. The problem with the Jinsoon topcoat is that it picks up a little of the color underneath. I also like Julep’s Freedom Polymer top coat a lot, but it has mixed reviews. My drugstore pick is one that (surprisingly?) is not often discussed on beauty/polish blogs. It is Nuance by Salma Hayek’s top coat. It has a thick gel texture and dries very quickly ( about a minute and a half). I like it because its thicker texture can even out glitters, and it’s very inexpensive, at $5.79. I bought 3 bottles from CVS before I moved to a state where there aren’t any. It is currently sold out online but if you live by a CVS, you should definitely try it out.

  11. Thanks – I have been using the Chanel Top Coat and I do like it but my nails still chip.
    By the way – was at the Chanel counter today and they have a new Sunscreen that comes in the same packaging as the old one but the bottom of the bottle is pinky/beige. Its called Le Blanc Light Revealing Brightening Make Up Base – SPF 30 – color Rosee – I swatched – I think I like it like the old sunscreen that was SPF 50. Check it out – has it also.

  12. Great review! I love Guerlain’s top coat too! Nice tip on the Revlon base coat. I may get this to compare with my favorite Stickey by Creative.

  13. Hi Amy-
    I have been using the Deborah Lippmann Gel base and topcoat. They also last 3-4 days without chipping. Give those a try sometime. Thank you for the indepth review. I am going to try the Dior.

  14. Hi Amy,
    I have used the Chanel top coat and the Dior gel top coat. Sabrina at the Beauty Look Book did a review on both of these, and she talked me into trying them (lol). I ordered the Guerlain top coat based on a review that you did with a Nars polish (you see how gullible I am) and it arrived today, so I have not yet had the chance to test it. My Dior top coat got thick, too, so I used the Seche Restore to fix it. It worked beautifully for me, although I did not wait a long time to use it. I used it at the first sign of it thickening up. I compared the ingredients of the Seche Restore and the Dior gel top coat and to me they seem about what and what. I usually get 3-4 days of nail polish wear with minimal tip wear. I use one coat of Seche Clear fist and then one coat of Orly Bonder. I apply 1 or 2 coats of polish (depends on what look I am going for) then a top coat. I wrap my tips with the polish and top coat. I like to change my polish about twice a week, so the wear time mentioned earlier works for me.

  15. I love reading the part about the Dior nail polish because I read that the Chanel was good but it is good to read about the expensive brands to see if they are worth the cost. After this you’ve saved me buying the Dior thanks! 🙂

  16. One tip I’ve picked up to promote the shelf life of top coats like Seche Vite or Dior, is when you’re finished applying them, turn the bottle upside down until you see at least 2 air bubbles float up. Something about getting rid of excess oxygen in the bottle after they’ve been opened. It’s worked for me anyways.

  17. I went hunting for the revlon base coat and found it at my local CVS. I hope my dior top coat is not gloopy. I have been asking for it fairly regularly whenever in Nordies and the lady finally said hey look I have one more!

  18. Hi Amy,
    I am a long time fan of your blog, but a silent one. However, this post spoke to me.
    Chanel polishes always have my heart as the shades and finishes are so beautiful, but they simply don’t last more than 3 days regardless of the top coats I used. And sometimes you just want the damn polish to work – on a holiday, on a business trip etc.
    So, for these cases I found something that works – cnd vinylux nail polish and top coat. I do not represent the brand in any way. It is just what a perfect nail polish is supposed to be – 2 coats of color, one top coat, and you’re set for a week. Every time.
    Unfortunately the vinylux top coat doesn’t work with other polishes, but cnd made fabulous dupes of Chanel’s Graphite and Peridot, so not all is lost.
    A little proof – this is my self-made mani, day 9. Still glossy and no chipping or tip wear.
    Just thought you’d be interested in this.

    Best regards,

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