Nail It!: The Matte Debate – Polish vs Top Coat

November 3, 2009 at 10:33 am 1 comment

matte-top-coat-vs-matte-nail-polishThere’s no denying that matte nails are the trend for fall.  Matte has had a growing runway presence over the past few seasons so it was only a matter of time before the look went mainstream.  Now you can’t avoid it.  With the plethora of matte finish nail polishes and top coats streaming into the market, matte nail lovers have options a plenty.

I’m all about embracing a new look but let’s face it, trends this hot tend to burn out just as fast as they came.  The detractors, and there are many, are loyal to a glossy finish.  So the question is, knowing the trend won’t last, do you spend your hard earned Benjamins on a matte nail polish or a matte top coat?  Let me share the pros and cons of each before you decide. 

Matte Nail Polish
Pro: Quick drying. The formula dries lightening fast allowing you to polish your nails on the go.

Pro: A true matte finish. If you want that flat wall paint look, matte polishes deliver.

Pro: Unique colors. The shimmery polishes aren’t easily replicated.  They have a “lit from within” quality that the matte finish accentuates.

Pro & Con: No base/top coat required. While this speeds up the manicure process it also adds no protection in terms of wear time.

Con: Short life span. The lack of base/top coat means you’ll get three days tops out of a manicure.  Immersing in water accelerates the chipping.  Applying a base coat can yield an uneven finish.

Con: Application issues. The matte finish and quick dry time leave little room for error.  Uneven brush strokes and nail imperfections are magnified.

Matte Top Coat
Pro: Versatile and affordable. Just one bottle will mattify any polish you already own.  Essentially you get an entire wardrobe of matte polish with one purchase.

Pro: Protection. Not only does a matte top coat alter the finish of any polish, it’s also formulated to extend wear like a traditional top coat.

Pro: Smooth application. The formula issues that plague matte polishes don’t apply.  The most mattifying top coats can still show brush marks but they are easier to avoid.

Pro/Con: Lightens polish. The more mattifying the top coat, the more milky its appearance.  This lightens the hue of the polish underneath.  You’ll never get a jet black matte using a top coat.  On the plus side, it gives a frosted glass look to glitter polishes.

Con: Product restrictions. This actually applies to the polish as well.  Hand creams, body lotions and oils will alter the finish, giving it a satin appearance.

Con: Dry time. Unlike traditional top coats, the drying time is much longer.  You have to be patient to avoid getting wrinkles or smudges in the finish.

What’s my take?  While there are some matte polishes that are unique enough to purchase, I prefer the simplicity of one product to get the job done.

Entry filed under: Nail It!. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. schneevante  |  May 24, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I’d also go for the top coat 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this comparison!


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