I'm always surprised at the amount of people that tell me that they don't use a top coat after painting their nails. A lot of people don't seem to think that it's worth the effort, but seriously, it is. A good quality top coat will seal your manicure and can increase the longevity of even the crappiest of polishes (Catrice, I'm looking at you!)
Because of my impatient and clumsy demeanour, I tend to gravitate towards top coats that help my polish dry faster. These are great for anyone who doesn't have a lot of time, or, like me, is a bit of a klutz. So, in order of preference, here are my favourite top coats!
1. Essie good to go! Quick Dry Top Coat
This is my most recently purchased top coat - I picked it up at Professional Beauty 2011 last month and have been loving it ever since. The formulation is very thin and hasn't gone gloopy on me yet. The fact that is very thin and watery means that it's a dream to apply, and a little goes a long way. It dries super fast to a gorgeous glossy finish, and keeps my manicure looking fresh for longer. Absolutely love this and would shell out full price for it in the future!
2. The Edge Mirror Gloss Top Coat
I picked this up about three months ago in Terrisales on Abbey St in Dublin. It promises to deliver a super shiny effect akin to gel nails. It definitely does that, and I love it for that, plus the slightly bigger than normal bottle. It isn't a very fast-drying formula, but I still love it, and it hasn't dried up or gone gloopy like some top coats tend to do.
3. Essie Billionails
This is actually a nail treatment but it can also be used as a top coat, and works very well as one! I've already done a full review of this stuff (I love it) which you can read here.
4. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri
When I was given this at a Sally Hansen event a good few months back, I thought all my Christmases has come at once. It's a really good top coat that does exactly what it says on the tin in terms of rapid drying time. The reason why this is further down the list is because after a month or two, the formula becomes thick, gloopy and almost impossible to use.
5. Sally Hansen Mega Shine
Ages back, this top coat also enjoyed a stint of being my fave. It's grand, but nothing fantastic or groundbreaking, either. It leaves nails glossy and dries in a reasonable amount of time. My gripe with this is the same problem that I had with Insta-Dri - the formula is just too thick and thickens before you can use it all. I'd still say pick this up if you can't access or afford any of my other recommendations and I'd definitely rather use this than no top coat at all!