Monday, May 7, 2012

Tip Top Tips

Hi all:
Penny decided to take a break from talking techniques to share some interesting tips about keeping your tips in tip top shape! At brunch today with some of my lovely lady friends we started talking about nail polish and how to get a long-lasting manicure (sans a gel manicure). As many of you know Penny has a penchant for manicures and pedicures. Yes...every two weeks it's a must. I'm a little fanatical about it too. If I break a nail that's an emergency trip to the nail salon (9-1-1)...that same day. LOL! If I choose a color and don't really like it a few days later...that could be a trip for a polish change. Fanatical I said. LOL! So that explains my over 40 bottles of nail polish in my 'at home' collection...don't judge. :-) You see, there are definite advantages to taking your own polishes to the nail salon:

Gouda Gouda Two Shoes-OPI
(courtesy Fashion Polish)
  • You always have the color you want to wear. NOTE: You should take your own top coat and base coat as well.
  • You don't have to worry about contamination (i.e. bacteria infections, etc) NOTE: You may want to purchase your own manicure/pedicure kit for hygienic purposes as well.
  • You don't have to worry about the polish getting thick and polish thinner being used (which sometimes alters the wearability of your polish).
That last point brings me to the real discussion today. Wearability. More specifically top coats. Penny has had acrylics or silk wraps for many years so my polishes last long without showing too much wear. However, I have noticed that all top coats are not created equal. By the way, I have researched the wearability of polishes on natural nails too, so this information is for all. (read full story...) 


Out the Door
Every once in a while I noticed that my manicure would look dull after only a few days. Sometimes my top coat appeared to be peeling off too. Annoyed, I told my manicurist that I didn't like their top coat and started bringing my own to my appointments. At the time I did not know that the salon used Out the Door Fast Drying Top Coat ($5.49 @ Sallys) which actually is supposed to be very good with a long-wearing, high gloss finish. Penny was puzzled because I had been using the salons top coat for years and only occasionally noticed the issues with dulling and peeling. So I took to the Internet to do some research in true Penny fashion. I came across a 2007 article on my favorite nail blogger's site....All Lacquered Up (by Michelle Mismas). Here is a link to the first post that caught my attention:

Seche Vite
Basically what I found was that every top coat does not work well with every polish. (Base coats are important too and can help your manicure last longer). There is a key ingredient (i.e. cellulose acetate butyrate) that may cause an adverse reaction based on the type of polish you use. Some polishes may not adhere to top coats or base coats with this ingredient. This was all starting to make sense to Penny. My quick drying, high shine Seche Vite was peeling whenever I used it over my beloved Zoya 3-Free polishes. Polishes that are listed as 3-Free means that they are free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and formaldehyde...toxic chemicals that can be harmful over time. With all of the new 3-Free and 4-Free polishes on the market, top coats now have to be reformulated to last and prevent peeling. The recommendation is to use a 3-Free base coat and/or top coat with your 3-Free polishes. Some of the top-rated 3-Free top coats are: CND Super Shiney Top Coat, Butter London Hardwear PD Quick Top Coat, and Zoya Armor.

I recommend you read the posts on All Lacquered Up as part of her Top Coat Challenge to see the results of various top and base coat combinations. I love that there are pictures to show the differences.

CND Super Shiney

Penny's Picks:
  • Seche Vite is one of Penny's favorite top coats (CVS, $9.99). Its dries quickly with a great high gloss shine. It's thicker than some but dries quickly; the company sells a polish thinner (Seche Restore) but I've never had to use it.
  • OPI Top Coat  (ULTA, $8.50) is also a staple in Penny's collection. Love the shine and durability.
  • Creative Nail Design (CND) Super Shiney Top Coat; (ULTA, $8.50) heard great things about it and can't wait to try it. 
  • Essie Top Coat  (ULTA, $8) is another good one but I haven't worn it in years. I love Essie polishes; great quality products.
  • Sally Hansen Insta Dri Top Coat (CVS, $4) has gotten great reviews. What I love about Sally Hansen is that they consistently offer a variety of quality base coats and top coats that are always budget friendly, and work well with natural nails. 
    Zoya Armor
So Penny has been going through a trial and error phase to see what works best with the polishes I have. I found that the salon top coat (Out the Door) works pretty good with my Zoya polishes; long lasting with shine (which is strange because it contains cellulose acetate butyrate I mentioned earlier). I found my Seche Vite to work fine with my OPI and Rescue Beauty Lounge polishes. I also tried Zoya's Armor Top Coat but was not impressed with the shine on my first trial. It wasn't bad, just felt like OPI and Seche Vite gave more of a high gloss finish. However, with my new knowledge, I may give it another try since it should work best with all the Zoya polishes I wear and love.  I will do a follow up once I've tried the CND Super Shiney and maybe the Sally Hansen top coats.

Penny usually only wears base coat on the toes to avoid the yellowing of my natural nails. I recommend a base coat for anyone with natural nails as it protects your nails, could strengthen them, and helps to achieve a long-wearing manicure.

Let me know if this information was useful. Or if you have a favorite base coat/top coat combo that works for you.

Be blessed. Be beautiful.


  1. Great information Penny! Thanks so much! I am wearing my natural nails now and every now and then I will use the gel nail polishes if I need my manicure to last 2 weeks.

  2. Thanks CK! I have contemplated going back to my natural nails many times...maybe I'll get there one day. LOL! Glad this was helpful.

  3. Ironically Penny accidentally broke a nail today (broke low across the middle; painful). In a total funk now because my manicurist is off on Mondays (and I have a big meeting tomorrow). Bummed. :-(