Top Coat Nail Polish: Everything You Need To Know

Top Coat Nail Polish: Everything You Need To Know

You work hard to create dynamic, stylish, and vibrant nail looks that your clients love and wear with pride, so why not invest in a product that works just as hard to make your hard work last longer than ever? 

If you aren’t sure how to do that, it may be time to educate yourself and your clients on top coat nail polish, a versatile and amazing product that any nail tech or salon owner will want to have in their arsenal ASAP. 

We at V Beauty Pure are here to help walk you through everything you need to know about topcoats, from what they are to why you need them to what the difference is between them and base coats. Keep reading to get the full low-down on this staple nail product. 

What Is a Top Coat?

Top coat nail polish is the finishing touch to any manicure or nail job. To take your nail work from good to great, applying a top coat will make all the difference. This polish seals your designs to make them stronger, less likely to chip or break, and generally more healthy and hydrated than before. 

A good top coat will protect the nails from external and environmental influences like excessive exposure to water or sunlight, acting as a strong shield to protect your amazing creations. Every year, top coats continue to improve in both functionality and overall style, giving you and your clients no excuse not to go all-in on making this product a staple of every look. 

Why Do You Need One? 

While to some clients it may seem like a waste of time to apply a coat or two of colorless polish at the end of a manicure or paint job (especially if they have somewhere to be after), taking the time to use a top coat is absolutely essential. 

The top coat has some more obvious major benefits that we have touched upon already, like protecting your client’s nifty nails from breakage, chipping, and peeling, but it has some additional positive points that further sell it as a must-have product. 

While a top coat is typically used to add a glossy finish to the nails and seal in the color and designs, there are other ways it can be the perfect final flare depending on the type. For example, beyond your standard top coat fare, there are others that offer matte or glitter finishes, acting as a true cherry on top of already stunning nail art. 

Top Coat vs. Base Coat 

Perhaps this should be less of a “versus” but more of an “and,” since both a top and base coat are best when used in conjunction with one another. Nevertheless, we will delve into their differences before getting into why you want to use both for all of the nail appointments you have on the horizon. 

The Differences 

As we now know, top coat nail polish protects the final piece of nail work and seals the whole look with a glossy film that puts your nail art on full display. It is the grand finale or cherry on top for the very end of whatever your client has requested of you for that appointment. 

The base coat, however, is the very first thing that you will put on your client’s nails to prime them for the polish and potential further styling and shaping to come. A base coat is an absolute necessity for anything from a short manicure to a longer and more involved acrylic nail art design session. 

It is the first layer of defense that acts as a sort of shield covering the natural nail to protect it from the potential harms of any nail polish or other products applied there. 

Base coat nail polish has a special chemical make-up that makes it ideal as a hydrating, fortifying, and smoothing agent for your clients’ nails. Particular solvents used in the base coat will actually evaporate as soon as your client’s desired nail polish is applied to the nail on top of it, making the polish look smoother than it would have on its own. 

Cellulose fibers are one such ingredient that helps to prime the nail for polish and make it have an easier and neater time sticking to the nail. Plasticizers are also instrumental in helping the nail polish to quickly and easily form to the nail, since they promote flexibility and elasticity, practically eliminating the possibility of awkward or stiff-feeling nail polish once it has dried. 

The unique chemical composition of the base coat differentiates it from other polishes and makes it the perfect primer before any other work is done on the nail.

Why We Use Both 

While top coat and base coat nail polishes each have their own complex chemical compositions and unique factors that make them great products, both are ultimately most effective when used together

Skipping out on the base coat has the potential to stain your natural nails and lead to yellowing that begins in the nail beds. Additionally, the lack of a base coat may cause nail polish to dry unevenly, lumpily, and stiffly.  

At the other end of the spectrum, deciding to ditch the top coat and just stick to the base coat can also have negative effects. With a top coat nail polish, nails are much more likely to grow dull and not last as long since they will lack the additional strength and scratch-resistant properties that top coat chemicals like nitrocellulose add to the mix. 

Not using both would be like making a pizza without cheese and sauce—you look at it, see the toppings, and know intellectually it is a pizza, but aren’t really finding it too appetizing or appealing. 

Just using one, on the other hand, would be like the pizza with just cheese or just sauce, which is okay, but it definitely is best when all used together (sorry if we made you hungry just now, by the way). 

Using a base coat at the very beginning of a manicure and a top coat at the very end will make for the healthiest, longest-lasting, and most beautiful nails you could ever give your client. So do yourselves and your clients a favor by putting it all together to make that perfect final Instagram-worthy product people will want to come back for again and again. 

Top Coats for Every Look 

While a top coat may sound like it is a generic product that is used across the board equally regardless of what was done to the nail, there are actually several different top coats to choose from, each with its own specific purposes. The right top coat can not only seal and strengthen your nail work, but it also can act as a part of the art itself. 

Here are some styles and looks that can be taken to new heights by dynamic top coat polishes:

Matte Nails 

Matte nails are defined by their muted appearance and shine-proof finish. While this may not sound super exciting at first, it is actually an increasingly popular style due to the way its glossless finish allows the nail polish colors to pop and take center stage. 

A regular top coat would not be a great match for matte nails, as they naturally help nails to have a shiny finish, which would end up totally negating the matte look your clients came in for in the first place. A matte top coat will ensure that this trendy nail look gets the fresh finish it needs and deserves. 

Gel Nails 

Gel nails create a glossy and polished look that is the result of a tried and true three-step process: base coat, nail polish, then top coat. That’s right, the base and top coats are already built into the whole gel look! 

It will be key to place the nails under a UV light for setting and drying after each of these steps, taking between 30 seconds to two minutes to let each layer set and cure.  

While a top coat is, indeed, a built-in part of the gel nail process, much like with matte nails, you will find that a top coat specific to the style is the best option to maximize the entire look. Use a trusted gel top coat to finish the entire process off for the gorgeous gel nails your clients have always dreamed of having.

In Conclusion 

While there is definitely way more to top coat nail polish than there initially appears to be, we at V Beauty Pure are here to help you through your journey to becoming a top coat connoisseur. 

Even though it may seem like an unnecessary step, your clients will be grateful and delighted when they see the massive impact that top coat has on your wonderful work. 

With our cream of the crop products at your disposal, there is no limit to what you can create with nail polish, plus a terrific top and base coat to seal the deal. So, congrats on now knowing everything you need to know about top coat nail polish! We can’t wait to see the awesome things you do and create with your newfound expertise. 


  1. Do Base And Top Coats Work? Nail Pros Explain | Bustle
  2. What Is a Base Coat? (with pictures) | InfoBloom
  3. How Important Is a Topcoat? | Popsugar