Best Quick Dry Top Coats… and the Worst.

Best QUick Dry Top Coats

When it comes to looking polished, not all products are created equally. Putting aside all debates about nail polishes and how clean their ingredients are, we tested several dozen quick dry polishes to see how they measured up.  Here’s the tale of the talon…


Love it! China Glaze’s Fast Forward Top Coat was a favorite, quickly drying to a glossy shine that protected the color underneath. While some of the fast drying top coats we tested insisted that all layers of polish be fully dried before applying (what’s quick about that?), Fast Forward Top Coat penetrated all layers of lacquer to dry nails in about a minute. Get it here.

best quick dry top coats

Leave it. The Out the Door Top Coat For Nails bottle claims that the product inside “Dries in seconds.”  And while that could mean almost anything -- we suppose seconds do add up to minutes – we assumed that meant it would dry very fast, say a minute or less. The product in fact ran long in drying time, about five minutes, and short on quality, chipping quickly. 


Love it! The Dazzle Dry System from VB Cosmetics. The kit, which sells for $55 here, includes Nail Prep (4.0 oz), Base Coat (0.5 oz), Top Coat (0.5 oz), Revive (0.5 oz). Those that don’t want to spend this much dough on nail care should opt for another one of our recommended products. As the name implies, the Dazzle Dry collection is best suited for those who plan to use all of the products in the system.

best quick dry top coats

Leave it. Sally Hansen’s Mega Shine Top Coat perfectly illustrates what seemed to be the problem with several less expensive quick drying top coats we tried. The product dries quickly as promised but the nail polish color applied beneath begins to chip almost immediately as well. Leave this one on the shelves of your local drugstore and put the five bucks you’ll save toward buying one of the pricier polishes on our love it list. It will save you – and your manicure -- in the long run.   


Love it! Zoya’s Anchor Basecoat, Armor TopCoat and Fast Drops combine to create the ideal quick-dry system for those in search of polishes that are free of harmful chemicals such as toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). The system has stood up to tons of field testing by your truly and, true to its promise, polish dries fast and stays freshly manicured for days and days. Zoya’s Fast Drops are the crowning jewel of the system, simply apply drops to just lacquered nails and they dry in record time, prevent polish bubbles, condition cuticles, and provide UV protection while enhancing polish color.

best quick dry polish

What’s your go-to manicure routine? Which polishes are your favorite?