A topcoat that really lasts even on peeling, thin problem nails – love your nails again!

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. See the Affiliates and Disclosures page for more information.

Ladies, let’s talk problem nails. I have them, if you’re reading this you have them. They split, bend, peel, polish won’t stay on and maybe you feel self conscious when your hands don’t look as you’d like them too despite your best efforts.

I feel you. I did the acrylic thing in my 20’s but that gets old fast. I don’t want to sit in a salon and be a slave to them every two weeks for fills. Frankly, I feel UGLY when my nails are short. It’s my one thing. We all have the thing that when it’s not just as you would like you feel less than your best and mine is my nails. They grow fine, I eat my veggies and take my vitamins but the splits, peels and breakage makes me cry (yes real tears). Don’t tell me your nails don’t grow. If you are alive your nails grow. They may break off before you see growth but they grow.

I have tips not just nail tips but TIPS. I managed a makeup, skincare and hair studio for several years and experts got their brains picked by yours truly.

Meet my nails. My fragile splitty, peely nails. Not too bad when they have been under protection for 13 days and just taken polish off. In fact they are so long I have to cut them. Follow this guide and you can have them too if this is your goal. I cook from scratch and wash dishes by hand (sometimes with gloves but you know how it is….)

I do my own gel nails at home and I don’t mind but that too is a hassle. I have the time to soak off my polish but I just don’t want to anymore. This isn’t to say I won’t do gel polish again. It is a godsend for problem nails. They grow long and gorgeous under the protection of this heaven sent angel called gel topcoat.

I am here with a solution. Use all your favorite polish. I know you have a collection of them like I do. Some of you may have even more than I do (honestly I haven’t counted but I am either proud or embarrassed by the number) and they go unused because you know their fate is an early demise of 24-72 hours.

Get you cotton balls and polish out. You are going to want to redo or do a manicure after this!

As with all things in life that we can’t control we put on our big girl pants and literally play the hands we were dealt. We can’t control our height and we can’t control the less than ideal nails that grow out of our fingertips.

I have answers

The answer: UV topcoat. No basecoat. For the people in the back, NO BASECOAT. We are trying to mix worlds here and a basecoat will stop our worlds from playing nice together. Perform your regular polish job of however many coats you like to achieve the look and let it dry completely for several hours. Then seal it down with a UV topcoat. The topcoat will hold you 10-14 days and it’s easy to remove because you don’t have all the baked on layers of UV polish under it. You may still have to rough up the surface with a quick buff of your nail block but the polish will wipe right off after that with acetone.

Yes acetone can be scary but you aren’t soaking your fragile nails and you will follow right up with nail oil on top and underneath your free edge – which you should be doing all day and night every day. I mix my own and put it in these little bottles and have them all over. On my desk, on my nightstand, in the car console, on the coffee table. I will link the oils I blend below after I discuss the particular topcoats.

Not all are the same. They do all need a lamp to cure them though.

Now let’s talk about these miraculous UV gel topcoats.

CND. You know it, you may love it. I like it. I don’t love it. I can’t imagine after 4 bottles of it I will buy a fifth. It is fine. Last topcoat on earth. Okay. Let me have it.

OPI. Solid contender. I give it an 8 out of 10. It bubbles sometimes. 8 out of 10 is minimum for anything allowed in my home. If I don’t like it at this level it doesn’t belong on the space I control and pay to live in.

Cue the angels singing and clouds parting: THEN, tried this brand, perhaps an off brand or just one that isn’t as mainstream. I AM GLAD I DID. WOW. It’s affordable and it works like a dream. This comes in a set of base and topcoat (I can’t vouch for the topcoat sold alone). The brush is lovely, the bottle is comfortable to hold and the brush top feels great in the hand. It’s a real winner. If you do full gel at some point the base and topcoat together are wonderful but today I am talking about using just the UV topcoat over regular nail polish.

Behold my Fav top coat !

Honorable mention for a special reason:

Bodyguard from Orly. Why some of you may want to start here is this one is the easiest to remove. Expect 10 day wear out of this. Seven at the least. I know many women who don’t want to wear a color longer than this. In fact, I have worn just bodyguard by itself to protect my nails when I didn’t want to commit to a color. I have commitment issues but this isn’t the blog to discuss that. Perhaps there is no blog to discuss that. For this reason I give bodyguard a 9 out of 10.

Another tip: ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS put your top coat in hot water to loosen up while you prep to put it on. 2 minutes is good. This will give you a smooth thin even coat that goes on easily. Also makes the amount last longer because you aren’t using as much.

two crystal clear bottles
Photo by Eneida Nieves on Pexels.com

Obligatory links to Amazon of the oils I buy and the lamp I love. It’s more cost effective to mix your own blend and the refillable bottles I like better than nail oil pens that are tough to refill.

I replaced my old UV lamp about two years ago and this one is so much nicer to use.

50% of your oil should be jojoba oil . This is great with a pump and fits right into the bottles. I haven’t needed the funnels to fill them. Also you can boost your body and face cream with it when you feel a bit dry. Soaks right in.

A few drops of pure vitamin E oil.

Fill the rest of the bottle with almond or avocado oil. Or you can get this kit that has them all.

Tell me about your nails in the comments!