You could get away with nixing the top coat on a regular manicure — not recommended, but sure. A gel manicure, however, simply cannot exist without a top coat. “A gel top coat is an extremely important step since it seals and protects your gel manicure,” Hannah Lee, Sally Hansen Brand Ambassador, tells Bustle. “It also gives you a beautiful, glossy shine that gel manicures are known for.” The best gel top coats work to create a hard seal that will extend your gel manicure’s longevity for about two to three weeks, and they should be formulated specifically for use with gel nail polishes (though it may seem obvious, this part is key.)
A few notes. If you’re doing a traditional gel manicure at home, then a UV/LED lamp is absolutely required to cure each layer of your manicure. (You can find simple, relatively affordable ones on Amazon, like this one from SUNUV.) However! There is such a thing as gel-effect nail polish. It behaves just like a regular nail polish — i.e., no curing lamp required — but, thanks to their special formulations and top coats, they’re shinier, more durable, and last longer without chipping than a typical polish will.
Whether you’re curing or air-drying, the three best gel top coats featured on this list will keep your manicure going strong.
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