The 13 Best Top Coat Nail Polishes of 2020 – Reviews

Just ask any nail technician: The secret to a long-lasting manicure is a solid layer of top coat. (Or, as Christine of Simply Nailogical calls it, a "taco.") Shiny, gel-textured, glossy, and everything in between, those clear polishes are primed to keep your polish in place and chip-free for as long as possible. We know — top coat isn't the sexiest part of doing your nails.

But if you're going to take all that time to create tortiseshell nail art or choose all those colors for a tie-dye manicure, your nails deserve the best protective layer possible. "Top coat is the icing on the cake, aesthetically and structurally," says Evelyn Lim, chief educator at Paintbox nail studio. "It completes the look by delivering a smooth, high gloss or matte finish while protecting your manicure, and by sealing in your polish with top coat it will help prevent chipping."

Ahead, we've rounded up top coat options for all your nail needs. Keep scrolling for 13 fail-safe top coats, all the better to keep your manicure in place.

All products featured on Allure are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

  • Tenoverten The Shield Top Coat on white background

    Tenoverten The Shield Top Coat

    In a single swipe, Tenoverten's The Shield Top Coat will give you chip-resistant nails and prevent your nail color from fading. This cruelty-free and vegan option will also give your manicure all the shine in the world.

    $18 (Shop Now)

  • Sundays Base  Top Coat on white background

    Sundays Base + Top Coat

    This combo from Sundays is everything you need for the perfect at-home manicure and pedicure. It includes both a non-toxic base and top coat to provide the perfect foundation for your polish and shine once you're all done creating your look.

    $36 (Shop Now)

  • Even though most of us don't have anywhere to be right now it's still great to have our nails to dry quickly . With just...

    Morgan Taylor Need For Speed Top Coat

    Even though most of us don't have anywhere to be right now, it's still great to have our nails to dry quickly (who wants wet nails when you're snacking during a Netflix binge?). With just one swipe of this clear polish, Morgan Taylor's Need For Speed Top Coat quickly dries your nails with a reflection-like shine.

    $8 (Shop Now)

  • Switch things up by going matte. This OPI top coat works with any polish and dries down to a velvetysmooth finish. It's...

    OPI Matte Top Coat

    Switch things up by going matte. This OPI top coat works with any polish and dries down to a velvety-smooth finish. It's a whole new vibe — and one you should show off on Instagram.

    $11 (Shop Now)

  • Jinsoon Top Gloss on white background

    Jinsoon Top Gloss

    Jinsoon's Top Gloss dries down to a smoother-than-smooth finish. Plus, it claims to extend the life of your manicure — a real win when you can't get to your favorite salon.

    $18 (Shop Now)

  • Revlon Ultimate Shine Top Coat on white background

    Revlon Ultimate Shine Top Coat

    This classic drugstore formula will run you less than $10 for a thicker coating of, yes, ultimate shine. As one reviewer wrote, "It's so shiny it still looks wet. Very impressed."

    $7 (Shop Now)

  • Zoya Armor Top Coat on white background

    Zoya Armor Top Coat

    "Runway favorite" and "nail polish" don't always belong in the same sentence, but for Zoya, we'll make an exception. This clear coat has graced the runways at Staud, Prabal Gurung, Rodarte, and more.

    $10 (Shop Now)

  • Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat on white background

    Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat

    This two-time Allure Best of Beauty winner is a favorite of professionals and anyone else who only has five minutes for nails to dry. It's practically industrial strength so it does have a strong scent, but it's worth it for the total manicure lockdown.

    $6 (Shop Now)

  • Sally Hansen Double Duty Base  Top Coat on white background

    Sally Hansen Double Duty Base & Top Coat

    Cut your mani kit in half with Sally Hansen's combination base and top coat, which works to prime nails for polish, then seal in color.

    $7 (Shop Now)

  • Dior Gel Coat on white background

    Dior Gel Coat

    Designer top coats do exist, and no one does it better than Dior. This gel-effect top coat gives the look of polish that's been cured under UV light, all without the freaky rays and impossible-to-remove side effects.

    $28 (Shop Now)

  • Smith  Cult Above It All Top Coat on white background

    Smith & Cult Above It All Top Coat

    Smith & Cult's extra-glossy top coat comes with an ergonomic handle that looks as good as it'll feel in your hand. It's vegan and cruelty-free formula for zero-guilt high shine.

    $18 (Shop Now)

  • Essie Gel Couture Top Coat on white background

    Essie Gel Couture Top Coat

    This top coat is the second step in every Essie Gel Couture mani, but even if you're not using an Essie shade, it provides a gel-like sheen over your color. It's thin enough to dry quickly, but hardens into a protective coating that mimics the look of a gel polish.

    $11.50 (Shop Now)

  • Orly Won't Chip Chip Resistant Top Coat on white background

    Orly Won't Chip Chip Resistant Top Coat

    Orly gets straight to the point with this "no chip" polish that promises to keep away the dreaded polish peeling and flaking. This affordable top coat goes on smooth and leaves nails with a high shine layer of protection.

    $10 (Shop Now)

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