Sometimes you just don’t have time to create painstakingly detailed nail art. After all, there are barbeques to attend, pool parties to splash around in, cocktail hours to mingle at, and summer vacations to plan. When you yearn for compliment-worthy nails, but don’t want to fuss with nail art pens and brushes, grab a topcoat that does all the work for you instead. The below tried and trusted suggestions are guaranteed to earn you oohs and ahhs as you sip that poolside margarita.
1. butter London Doily Overcoat
Yes, it’s a top coat that turns your nails into mini doilies! Not literally, but the matte white glitter—shaped like hexagons, lines, and circles—creates an authentic doily effect over any of your base coats. The nail polish has a sheer pink base, so you can apply multiple coats to build opacity, as well.
Butter London | $15
2. INM Northern Lights Hologram Top Coat
“I use Northern Lights top coat to get holographic retro-techno nails,” says Tristan Terral, Los Angeles-based celebrity nail technician. “It is best used on top of bright neon colors and pastel colors.” Before applying, shake the polish really well and then apply one thin layer over your base coat. If you more shimmer, follow up with a second thin coat.
3. Trust Fund Beauty The Money Shot
This is a clear base nail polish with various sized rose-gold flakes that’ll instantly transform any undercoat into a gilded dream. Try it on top of a nude polish for low-key flair, double down by applying it on top of a metallic gold, or put it over a pastel or rich jewel toned polish. It looks good on top of everything, no exceptions. However, this polish is sold as part of a curated set.
Trust Fund Beauty | $15
4. NCLA Party Never Ends
Turn any manicure into a party with this multi-colored glitter top coat. It has teal, bright pink, black, white and peach round glitter that can be applied on top of pretty much any base. Try it over white or black for a super contrasted look, on top of a creamy neutral for something more subdued, or over a naked nail for a hint of something fun.
NCLA | $18
5. Essence Nail Art Pastel Ombre Top Coat
If you don’t have the energy to fuss over the perfect, sponged-on ombre nail polish, this essence nail polish is your lifesaver. When you apply it over any color, it instantly fades it. Create an ombre effect on one nail or across all ten nails—whatever you please! The more coats you apply, the more faded the base becomes.
Essence | $3
6. Morgan Taylor Matte’s a Wrap
“Morgan Taylor is my top pick for a long-lasting matte finish. It will take all the oils out of the lacquer color of your choice, regardless of the nail polish brand,” says Terral. “For the best results, apply two thin coats of top coat. Terral also says to make sure you have time for the top coat to dry. You can try it on only an accent nail, as a way to mattify nail tips, or on all your nails.
7. Caption Putting It All Out There Top Effect
Caption is another innovative, indie nail polish brand. They offer a host of “top effects,” ranging from holographic glitter to iridescent sheen to splashy spray glitters. Putting It All Out There is a dreamy blend of iridescent violet shimmer, multi-cut glitter, and traveling pigment that’ll transform your base into a MoMA-level work of art.
8. ILNP Neon Rosebud Ultra Chrome Flakie
I Love Nail Polish (ILNP) is an innovative, creative indie nail polish brand that people go nuts over. They have a collection of duochrome nail polishes that you can apply over a base coat or build up for opacity, and Neon Rosebud is part of that lineup. It’s a chromatic nail polish that color-shifts between green, pink, and gold. Prepare for an onslaught of compliments and daily distractions.