Monday, November 9, 2015

Top Top Coats! A Comparison of Seche Vite, HK Girl, Poshe, and others

Today I wanted to review top coats. I paint my nails often, and a good top coat is a must. I have tried a lot of top coats, mostly low-end drugstore/mass market available ones and most are meh. Some that I have tried include Essence Gel Look top coat, Sally Hansen Gel Shine 3D top coat, NYC In a Minute Quick Dry in Grand Central Station 202, and Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti Chip top coat. There's nothing worse than painstakingly trying to do a good job staying within the lines only to have your mani ruined because you had to unzip your pants or tie up your hair - why do I always need to pee 5 minutes after I paint my nails?? For me, the most important characteristic in a top coat is the drying time. Cuz if I'm not hitting the bathroom after painting my nails, I'm trying to rip open a bag of chips...uhm...ok maybe that's just me. Anyway, I need my nails rock hard fast. The shiny factor would be second, and third, longevity.

On to the top coats! I'm going to discuss 4 top coats that each promise quick drying results and high shine. Two are relatively mainstream, and the other two are more obscure and a little harder to obtain.

Seche Vite - $5-10, 0.5fl oz., found at most drugstores, Target, Walmart, and many online retailers

Probably the most well-known and most well-loved of the bunch. Seche Vite is a cult product for good reason. It dries nails in less than a minute to a beautiful glossy finish. It has a strong chemical odor that dissipates once dried. Some complain about 'shrinkage' which I would tend to agree with after a day or two. Longevity is mediocre. I probably get 2-3 days of wear before chipping or shrinkage occur. Another major complaint is that Seche Vite gets thick and gloopy halfway through the bottle, rendering the second half unusable unless you thin it out (Seche Vite makes a thinning product expressly for this purpose.) I would say I can get down to maybe 2/3 of the bottle before I run into this problem and end up tossing the rest out.

Out the Door - $5, 0.5fl oz., found at CVS, Walgreens, other online retailers

OTD is another popular top coat. For whatever reason the bottle I own is a clear yellowish liquid rather than completely clear. Not sure if that impacts its performance.   It does not have a strong odor, but this definitely takes longer (2-3 minutes) to dry my nails than with Seche Vite. OTD gives a glossier finish. Because of these factors, what I end up doing is do applying Seche Vite after my polish, to dry it instantly, and then go over it with OTD to give it a shinier finish. My nails stay nice and glossy for 4-5 days with OTD, but again, chipping and wear show by this time as well since I don't tend to use OTD solo.

HK Girl -$6.99, 0.5 fl oz., found exclusively on

This is a newer top coat to me, and I found it by way of a YouTuber I follow on Instagram who always has the nicest nails. This top coat is harder to find since you can only order it online from the above website.

This is what their site says:
"Glisten & Glow HK Girl (2 free) is made from a top coat purchased in bulk from a  nail lacquer manufacturer and our own blend of propriety ingredients. 2 Free version - Product Ingredients: Butyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose, polyster resin, dibutyl phthalate, Bentone, Isopropyl Alcohol, camphor, octocrylene and isopropyl"

This top coat is very similar to Seche Vite - it also has a strong chemical odor, but drying time is verrrry similar, though I still think Seche Vite outperforms HKG in this regard. I would say this top coat edges out SV with shininess and longevity (maybe 3-4 days of wear with no chips). It is harder to obtain, and ends up costing around $9.50 ($2.50 for shipping), so it is more expensive than the other two products I've mentioned. I do like this top coat, so would consider re-purchasing once I run out.

Poshe Super Fast Drying Top Coat - $5-$7.69, 0.5fl oz., found at various online retailers, and Sally's Beauty Supply

I came across this top coat after reading about it on several blogs touting its capabilities and similarities to Seche Vite.

The Poshe website claims:
"All Poshé nail care products are DBP, Toluene and Formaldehyde free."

This product is incredibly similar to the HKG and SV top coats. It dries nails in about a minute and also gives a beautiful glossy finish. One difference and nice detail is that the brush with Poshe is thicker and more paddle like than the other three (more traditional) brushes. It's easy to obtain from Amazon, shipping is fast (I have Amazon Prime), and longevity is about 4 days before I see chips. I don't notice any shrinkage with this nor the HKG.

Overall Thoughts - Of the 4 top coats I've mentioned, SV, HKG, and Poshe are all very comparable. All three dry nails right quick, and give pretty shiny finishes. Out the Door does not dry as quickly, so I do not really use it for that purpose. I would say HKG and Poshe probably outperform SV since they give a shinier finish and don't have the shrinkage issue. SV is readily available though so if I was in a bind and ran out of the others, I would not hesitate to pick it up. I would probably also repurchase Poshe since it is easy to get and cheaper than HKG.

What are your thoughts? What are your favorite Top Coats??