Essie Gel Couture Top Coat : Review & Wear Test

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 3 comments

Hey Essie Loves!

I've got another top coat review for you. This top coat isn't actually marketed as being a top coat for regular polish, but as a two-step system for the Gel Couture polishes. I get amazing wear time with Gel Couture polishes and I was loving this top coat that went with the system so much, that I started wearing it to get longer wear time out of my regular Essie's. It's been my go-to top coat for the last year or so! I had never done an actual wear test and analyzed my results until this past week though, so I can't wait to show you!

As usual, I kept all the conditions the same as my other top coat wear tests (Good to GoGel Setter and Speed Setter). I always want to get the truest sense of how the top coat is performing, so in case you are new here or you need a refresher, here's what the experiment controls are:

Experiment Controls

Base Coat: I used Essie Treat Love & Color. I struggle with peeling nails and wanted to condition & strengthen them as I wore polish.

Nail Polish: I chose Essie Angora Cardi. I picked a nail polish that I knew would be opaque in two coats and also a bit darker so that we could clearly see any chips or tip wear.

Nail Painting: I painted my nails using 1 coat of base and two coats of colour. I wrapped the tips with my polish and also with top coat. Wrapping your tips will help prolong the wear of your polish so I made sure to do that.

**I should mention that whatever worked or didn't work for me, may be different for you. We all have a different chemistry make up of our nails and different products work for different people. I also have nails that peel, so you'll notice I don't have a long wear time on anything. While someone can wear a polish for 7-10 days without chips, I really can't. Keep that in mind for these results!

Gel Couture Top Coat

Essie describes this as a "quick drying top coat that seals and helps protect, to magnify shine for an ultra glossy finish."

Day 1:

First off, I gotta say I love the design of the brush!  It's wide and curved and perfectly covers my whole nail in 2 strokes without getting top coat all up in my cuticles. 

The consistency of the top coat is really nice. It's a medium thickness that doesn't run or get goopy. It made my nails super duper shiny with a nice glossy finish. 
It dried to the touch in about 5 minutes (maybe less) so I could lightly touch them and not wreck them. They weren't fully dried hard for awhile. After 30 minutes I could still dent them but the dents would level themselves out. It was still kind of like this around the one hour mark.

Day 3:

A couple days later and my nails look amazing. They're still super shiny with hardly even a hint of tip wear. 

Day 5 & 6:

My nails STILL look shiny! There's the slightest bit of tip wear but this is pretty amazing for my nails after 6 days of wearing the same polish. The one flaw with this top coat, is that it does start to shrink and pull away from the polish underneath if you look up really close. 

Here's what I mean. I put top coat all the way to the edges of the polish but over time it starts to shrink away. It's not super noticeable, but it is a common problem I've noticed with this top coat, both over regular polish and Gel Couture polish. 

Day 7:

This is the state of my nails after a full week of wear with this top coat!! If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that this is incredible wear time for me. The tip wear is more noticeable now, but there's not a single chip. The top coat is definitely scuffed but it's also still got some shine which is pretty impressive! I could've worn this longer to see how long it would go, but I had to take it off and get some swatches done for this blog. I think the point was made nonetheless!

That's such amazing wear time for me. I can't believe I wore this for a full week and my nails still look this good. I knew it was good and I didn't get chips but since I change my polish so often, I didn't realize it was THIS good.

Some other things I've noticed while using this topcoat:
- It doesn't thicken up a ton as it gets lower in the bottle, but it does a bit. I've never had a bottle that became goopy (and I've gone through about 4 or 5 bottles of it).
- It's rare, but it can also leave a bit of bubbling if the top coat has thickened up.
- Besides how it pulls away as the days go on, it never shrinks the tips of my polish.

Let's summarize:


- super shiny and stays that way
- the brush design is perfect (wide and curved)
- dries to the touch in 5 minutes
- the wear time is incredible. Definitely prolongs the life of your mani!
- durable and chip resistant


- takes 30-60 minutes to be completely dry
- pulls away from the polish underneath as time goes on
- thickens slightly over time
- may bubble as the top coat gets older

Honestly you guys, this top coat is so good! It's durable, lasts a long time and proves its claim by staying ultra glossy. Whenever people have asked me in the last year "what's your favourite top coat?" I always say this one. I actually didn't even realize how impressive the results were going to be when I set out to do this review and wear test. I've been asked before if this top coat is necessary to wear with the Gel Couture polishes and I hope this proves to you YES! Not only is it made to go with the Gel Couture polishes but it provides the same durable, chip resistant, shiny finish on those mani's. If it can make regular polish last this long on me, then it is definitely an integral step in your Gel Couture mani!

Earlier this year, Essie released a new Gel Couture top coat called "Platinum Grade Finish". I was crossing my fingers that that top coat wouldn't be replacing the regular Gel Couture top coat but sadly I think it is :(. You can still get your hands on this top coat though (I linked it below on Amazon). The new one has a silver band around the lid and the original one doesn't. In Canada, I haven't seen the Platinum Grade Top Coat anywhere, so you can still easily get the original. I'm going to have to stock up before they phase them out! I did pick up the new Platinum Grade top coat when I was in America in September so that review will be coming to you next! I've tried it out a few times already but I'm so curious to see how it performs in a wear test, so I'll keep you posted!


  • Jess said...

    This is my all-time favorite top coat! I have noticed the same shrinking away from the edges, but I love the shine and staying power overall. Great review, Kindra!

  • Vanvi_vi said...

    My favorite as well!
    When Good to Go or Gel Setter are already thick and goopy, this one still has a very good application.
    I got the Platinum Grade Finish a few weeks ago (imported from the US) and until now I do not really feel a difference to the Gel Couture Top Coat.

  • Cat said...

    I haven't yet tried this topcoat, but the Gel Couture polishes have a formula I enjoy with longevity. Thanks for the review -- I may try it!

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