Top 10 Best No Wipe Gel Top Coats of 2017

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no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

Gel manicures kick chipped polish to the curb by giving us two to three chip-free weeks out of our nail color. When you’re used to feeling like you’re getting away with murder when your nail polish is still looking decent on day three, gel manicures can seem like a miracle.

More and more folks are having them done regularly, both in salons and at home. So let’s talk about how they work and why the top coat is so important.

How do gel nails work?

Regular polish works in the same way that most paints work: pigments that are normally solid are dissolved in a solvent and become liquid. When liquid nail lacquer is exposed to air those solvents evaporate, returning the pigments to their natural hard state. It generally takes up to 24 hours for regular nail polish to be completely dry which is why you can still dent your polish after it feels try to the touch.

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But that’s regular nail polish. Gel works differently. Gel polishes are made such that they will never air dry completely. It’s like if you put out a cup of tea and a cup of olive oil–they’re both liquids but one of them is going to eventually evaporate into nothing and one won’t.

Gel polishes contain pigments and photoinitiators which are chemicals that react to UV light. When UV light hits liquid gel nail polish, it begins a “curing” process. The photoinitiators react by breaking open which causes a chemical reaction to begin inside the polish that converts the liquid resins into hard polymers. Examples of other polymers, to give you an idea of what all that jargon means, would be shellac or amber. The liquid actually becomes rock hard. That’s why regular nail polish bottles are see through, but gel polish bottles are opaque. If they were transparent, the polish would harden in the bottle and become useless little paperweights.

But you need the UV light to trigger this process and while in theory sticking your wet gel nails in the sun will cure it, it’s going to take a long, long time. Specialized nail lamps utilize UV and LED bulbs that can cure your nails in under a minute.

Can you do them at home?

For a while gel was only accessible at a salon where they had special lamps to cure your nails under. These days, UV and LED nail lamps are not only affordable, some of them are small enough to fit in your purse. These days, home gel manicures are very doable and will save you hundreds of dollars by avoiding salon prices. For more information on lamps and which one is right for you, read my guide to the best UV and LED nail lamps of 2017.

It’s important to note when doing a gel manicure at home, that a salon manicure may still last longer. Think of it this way, if you’re at home with all the tools and ingredients to make a cheeseburger, you can make a killer cheeseburger. But give a trained chef those same materials and they can probably make a better one.

How do you take them off?

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For a polish to be able to stick to your nails for two to three weeks, it’s got to be really stuck on there. It’s going to take some deep soaking in acetone or gel remover for 10 to 20 minutes for those polymers to loosen enough that you can remove the polish. See my post on the best nail polish removers for suggestions of which is best for gel. It takes time and gentle prodding to remove the gel without harming your natural nails. A salon can also do this for you if you don’t want to mess with it.

The temptation to pick at peeling nails is strong. Please try to resist. Picking can rip up layers of your nails, weakening them. It can also create little pockets for water to seep under your nail polish and become a breeding ground for bacteria or even fungus. Once they start to peel, soak them off.

Aren’t they bad for your nails?

There’s loads of debate on this. Here’s my take: putting on gel nail polish is equally bad for your nails as regular polish. It’s chemicals, your body would be happier if you didn’t, but it’s pretty and I’m not going to stop.

A big however: removing gel nail polish is way harsher on your nails compared to regular polish. Soaking in acetone is drying to your skin and nails and the removal process can weaken or thin your nail bed. Gel polish isn’t quite as rough on your nails as having acrylic nails, but it’s in the same ballpark. For some that’s a totally worth it for a chip-free two week manicure and for others it isn’t. It’s totally your call.

What’s with the top coat?

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As I talked about in my best top coats for long lasting nail polish article, top coats provide longevity to your manicure, protection from fading colors, and a high glossy shine. When gel polish cures, it leaves a sticky residue on top which is totally normal. With standard gel top coats, once it’s cured, you’d wipe it off with a lint-free cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol.

The problem with this sticky coating is that first off, it’s an extra step and we’re busy people. We have places to be and gel manicures already involve several steps so anything that saves time is fantastic. Secondly, alcohol is drying. Scrubbing your fingers with rubbing alcohol can lead to dry, splitting cuticles. If you don’t have to use it, don’t. And lastly, old tacky gel top coats can interfere with nail art, especially nail art that involves chrome powders or flakies.

With no wipe top coats, you can completely skip that last step. No residue–you’re good to go.

That’s enough talk, let’s get down to the best no wipe gel top coats.


1. PrettyDiva No Wipe Gel Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

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PrettyDiva

The PrettyDiva No Wipe Gel Top Coat is one of the top choices of nail artists for doing chrome, mirror, or powder holographic nails. It works well with nail powders and won’t dull their shine when applied over them which tends to happen with some top coats. It’s truly no wipe. You won’t have any residue or tackiness to contend with. The formula is easy to work with and goes on well. I see this, and a lot of other top coat brands, bragging that they have such a large bottle, but at 15 milliliters, they’re basically on par with standard nail polish bottles. Sorry, friend, but that’s the average size. That said, it’s a good size and will last you a long time. It cures very quickly under both UV and LED, with curing times around 30 seconds, depending on your lamp, and won’t yellow as you wear it. If you’ve been struggling to get chrome or holo powders to work, you might want to give this one a shot.

Price: $9.99

Buy the PrettyDiva No Wipe Gel Top Coat here.


Pros:

  • Works great with chrome powders
  • Won’t dull or yellow over time
  • Formaldehyde free
  • Cures fast

Cons:

  • Doesn’t smell great while wet
  • Not as high of a gloss as others

Find more PrettyDiva No Wipe Gel Top Coat information and reviews here.


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2. Chroma Gel No Wipe Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

Amazon

This is another no wipe top coat that works great with chrome powders. I mean, it’s called Chroma. It’s right there. Beyond the name, this top coat is no wipe and good to go as soon as you’re cured. While curing times have a lot to do with the power of your lamp, the lacquers you choose does also have an affect. This one has slightly longer curing times, which means they’re around at industry average (one minute for LED and 1.5 to two minutes for UV) and not in the bracket of ultra-rapid 15 second curing. It’s easy to apply, works with all gel polishes and powders, and has a high glassy shine that makes any nail color pop. Chroma has staying power too and is great for preventing edge chipping at the tips of your nails.

Price: $19.99

Buy the Chroma Gel No Wipe Top Coat here.



Pros:

  • High glossy finish
  • Works with chrome and holo powders
  • Works with all gel polishes
  • Good formula

Cons:

  • Curing times a smidge longer than some

Find more Chroma Gel No Wipe Top Coat information and reviews here.



3. Gel II Manicure Radiant Mirror Shine No Cleanse Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

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Amazon

This no wipe top coat is part of the Gel II system which is a set of gel polishes that don’t require the use of a base coat. Gel II polishes, like this pink to purple color changing lacquer, are supposed to be easier to remove and gentler on your nails compared to other gel polishes. Their No Cleanse Top Coat has a high, glossy finish that stays clear and maintains its shine for days longer than other gel top coats. The top coat plays nice with chrome and holo powders and cures under UV and LED lights. Because the formula is specifically made to work with other Gel II polishes, this one will perform best when used with other Gel II products.

Price: $10.40

Buy the Gel II Manicure Radiant Mirror Shine No Cleanse Top Coat here.


Pros:

  • Long lasting glossy finish
  • Works with chrome and holo powders
  • Easier to remove

Cons:

  • Strong unpleasant smell
  • Works best with Gel II lacquers

Find more Gel II Manicure Radiant Mirror Shine No Cleanse Top Coat information and reviews here.



4. Cheri Non-Wipe Gel Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

Amazon

Cheri’s top coat is a no wipe top coat that is the choice of many professional nail artists out there because it’s hard, long lasting, and adds a glass like shine that really showcases your design. I do some nail stamping and when you’ve finished a design that you’ve put a lot of effort into, you don’t want it chipping right away. Cheri Non-Wipe Gel Top Coat is one of the longer lasting top coats on the list. It is also one of the top coats with the longest curing times. If you don’t cure this one for the full 60 seconds under LED or two minutes under UV light, it’ll have a tacky or rubbery feeling to it that means it’s not done. No one loves sitting longer under lights, but with how hard and durable this top coat gets, it’s worth it.

Price: $9.90

Buy the Cheri Non-Wipe Gel Top Coat here.



Pros:

  • Super hard and durable
  • Lasting glossy shine
  • Common choice of professional nail artists

Cons:

  • Longer curing time
  • Strong unpleasant smell

Find more Cheri Non-Wipe Gel Top Coat information and reviews here.



5. Sparkle & Co. No Wipe Gel Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

Amazon

This no wipe top coat from Sparkle & Co. is, again, specifically designed for chrome and holo powders. In fact, Sparkle & Co. offers holographic powder kits and chrome powder kits (shown in the video below) that come with everything you need to achieve these looks, including this no wipe top coat. This is another top coat with longer curing times at 60 seconds for LED and two minutes for UV. If you skimp on the cure times, you’re more likely to get dents and scratches on your polish which we really don’t want. It has a nice shine to and it layers on thin which is nice when if you’re building up several layers beneath it. This bottle is smaller than the others on the list at only eight milliliters, with the ones coming before it ranging from 14 to 15 milliliters. It’ll still last you a while, but that’s something to keep in mind if you’re on a budget.

Price: $8

Buy the Sparkle & Co. No Wipe Gel Top Coat here.



Pros:

  • Works great with chrome and holo powders
  • Brand offers powder kits
  • Nice glossy finish
  • Not too thick

Cons:

  • Smaller bottle
  • Longer curing times

Find more Sparkle & Co. No Wipe Gel Top Coat information and reviews here.



6. Gellen No Wipe Matte Top Coat & High Gloss Shiny Top Coat Set

Gellen

If you love having options, this package set of no wipe top coats is a good place to start. You get both the Gellen No Wipe High Gloss Shiny Top Coat and Gellen No Wipe Matte Top Coat. Besides the fact that no wipe top coats are easier and faster, nail art is the a perfect reason to get these two no wipe top coats together. You can do some really incredible things when you use glossy and matte top coats on the same nail, like a raindrop effect for example. Check out this YouTube video of Simply Nailogical applying multi-chrome raindrop nails. Another interesting look is creating a French manicure look by using either the contrasting matte or gloss on your tips.

And when you’re doing nail art like this, you really don’t want to be messing with that tacky residue. Gellen top coats are a thicker formula which prevents it from running into your cuticles, but you just want to keep an eye on the thickness of your layers. They have fairly standard curing times and good staying power. The bottles are smaller at eight milliliters each, but for the price that’s not a bad deal.

Price: $7.99 (50 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Gellen No Wipe Matte Top Coat & High Gloss Shiny Top Coat Set here.


Pros:

  • You get both matte and high gloss top coats
  • Long lasting
  • Easy to work with formula

Cons:

  • Smaller bottles
  • Strong smell that fades quickly

Find more Gellen No Wipe Matte Top Coat & High Gloss Shiny Top Coat Set information and reviews here.



7. Born Pretty No Wipe Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

Born Pretty

If you’re on a tight budget, you may want the Born Pretty No Wipe Top Coat. It’s a 10 milliliter bottle which is a little smaller than an Essie polish bottle, but not a sample size. This top coat is definitely no wipe so you won’t find any residue when curing and it has average curing times. Born Pretty’s top coat is very thick, as all their top coats tend to be, edging over into almost gooey. A heads up, when you look at it on the brush, it doesn’t look crystal clear. It has a foggy, cloudiness to it that is going to make you nervous. Don’t fret. On your nail after being cured, this top coat is clear and glossy. It does tend to create a slightly thicker layer, but it self-levels very well and quickly so that nothing seems uneven. I wouldn’t recommend this one for chrome or mirror powders, however, as that normally invisible cloudiness tend to make chromes look a little dull under the Born Pretty No Wipe Top Coat. For all other things gel though, this is a great budget top coat.

Price: $3.99 (56 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Born Pretty No Wipe Top Coat here.



Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Nice gloss
  • Self-leveling
  • Won’t flood cuticles

Cons:

  • Thicker than most
  • Not great for chrome powders
  • Strong unpleasant smell

Find more Born Pretty No Wipe Top Coat information and reviews here.



8. OneDor No Wipe Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

OneDor

The No Wipe Top Coat from OneDor is another top coat that works well with chrome and holo nail powders. This one is formaldehyde free and has a much less offensive odor than a lot of the other top coats on here. The formula is easy to work with and finishes with a very high gloss. It says to cure one minute under LED and two minutes under UV, but depending on your light, you may need to go longer to really get that rock hard surface you’re looking for. The OneDor No Wipe Top Coat won’t leave a tacky film, but if you odn’t cure it long enough it will have a rubbery feeling. So if UV light exposure is a concern, stick to a top coat with faster curing times. This is the no wipe top coat used in the raindrop effect video I mentioned above.

Price: $8.99

Buy the OneDor No Wipe Top Coat here.



Pros:

  • High gloss finish
  • Works with chrome and holo powders
  • Formaldehyde free
  • No overbearing chemical smell

Cons:

Find more OneDor No Wipe Top Coat information and reviews here.



9. Belen Gel Polish No Clean Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

Amazon

Unlike standard nail polish, you don’t often see ingredients list with gel polishes, which I don’t love because I like to be able to see what exactly I’m putting on my body. So I can’t tell you what exactly is in this no wipe top coat when the brand claims to be non toxic. I can say that it is three free–it does not contain formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP which is really good and something I look for in my nail polishes. It’s a good sized bottle at 15 milliliters and the formula isn’t too thick or too thin. Cure times on this seem to be heavily dependent on the power of your lamp so let’s call this one around average for curing time. It’s durable and has a nice gloss, but that shiny finish tends to fade faster on this top coat than on others.

Price: $12.99

Buy the Belen Gel Polish No Clean Top Coat here.


Pros:

  • Long lasting
  • Easy to work with
  • Free of formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP
  • Claims to be non toxic

Cons:

  • Loses its shine quicker than others

Find more Belen Gel Polish No Clean Top Coat information and reviews here.



10. Azure Beauty Matte Top Coat

no wipe gel top coat, no wipe top coat, gel nails at home, UV top coat

Azure Beauty

If you’re looking for just a matte no wipe top coat, check out this one from Azure Beauty. It’s affordable, has a great formula, and cures to a smooth, velvety matte with zero residue. This matte top coat claims to be non toxic and uses natural resins and gum rubber to create its long lasting seal over your gel polish. It has average to long cure times at one minute under LED and two to three minutes under UV bulbs. It isn’t the most self-leveling of all the top coats so try to be mindful of your brushstrokes, but as long as you’re not digging into your nails with the brush you should be fine. You get eight milliliters in this bottle, which isn’t a lot, but will still last you a good while. Matte can be so much fun to play with and if you’re getting into nail art, this is a good choice for a no wipe matte top coat.

Price: $5.99 (50 percent off MSRP)

Buy the Azure Beauty Matte Top Coat here.


Pros:

  • Very matte, even for a matte top coat
  • Claims to be non toxic
  • Easy to work with
  • Smell isn’t overpowering

Cons:

  • Longer curing itmes
  • Can show brushstrokes

Find more Azure Beauty Matte Top Coat information and reviews here.


Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

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