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Applying Top Coat Polish? Here’s How

Last Updated on March 26, 2021
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written by nail expert Jess Rowley

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Everything you need to know of how to apply nail polish top coat

The top way you ruin your manicure is by skipping the step of your topcoat, we’ve all done it, but is it really that important? 

Absolutely! Using a topcoat is the most important way of ensuring your manicure will last without chipping or peeling. It will seal the edges and prevent the nail polish from moving.

But that’s not all:

The topcoat is used to protect your nails from water exposure and fading as a result of UV exposure and overall improving the performance of your nail polish. 

Manicures won’t last near as long without a top coat, the topcoat is the protective layer between your manicure and the environment of everyday life- slight bumps and knocks can be detrimental without a topcoat. 

But not to worry, I’m here to break down how you can apply and make the most out of your topcoat. 

Here’s a tip: some top coats only take 30 seconds to dry therefore reapplying every couple of days to restore the performance will increase the durability. 

Let’s jump in to everything you need to know. 

nail polish red

So how do you apply the topcoat? 

After applying a layer or base coat, two layers of your favorite nail polish color (leaving a couple of minutes in between each layer). Once this is dry you should apply a layer of topcoat on top of the nail polish, with precision, sealing the edges. Take your time with your topcoat 

Topcoats tighten as they dry which can cause ridges if not applied properly, making chipping a lot easier.

Once your top coat has dried, run a horizontal swipe over the bottom edges to keep everything locked in, preventing chipping. Repeat this step twice. 

It’s super easy to refresh a dull and scratched manicure by applying another layer of topcoat to keep it remaining strong and shiny.

I recommend doing this every few days to restore your manicure for longer. 

How to apply gel top coat over regular nail polish

If you’ve painted your nails with your favorite nail polish and looking for ways for it to last longer, maybe try applying a gel topcoat.

All you need to do is paint your nails, as usual, adding several thin coats. But instead of applying a top coat a couple of minutes later, you must wait for your nail polish to completely dry, this may take a couple of hours.

Once it has completely dried use any gel polish top coat and cure under a UV or LED lamp, followed by another coat. This will make your regular polish last for a couple of weeks without chipping!

Although this method is brilliant it may not adhere as well as with gel, so it will definitely last longer than a regular top coat but not as long as when paired with gel nail polish. It can also be quite time-consuming.  

nail polish pink

How often should I re-apply top coat nail polish? 

When applying a top coat I would recommend topping this up every 2-3 days to restore the shine and durability of your nails.

It’s quite easy to forget, don’t panic if you do, if you notice that your manicure has lost its shine then I would recommend applying some more topcoat.

Doing this and applying cuticle oil daily will help preserve your manicure for longer while also restoring the shine.


Applying a top coat doesn’t have to be a tedious and boring task, it can be quick and easy and if you do it right you won’t regret it, it will transform your nails and keep them shiny for longer.

It’s a step that as much as we wish we could skip it should be always be included as no one likes a fresh manicure that had chipped within the first day. 

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