It is ironic that my most recent posts have been nail related, given that I've bitten mine to buggery!
Bitten they might be, but I still like to paint them (and sometimes polish can look nice on short nails...that's what I keep telling myself anyway), and when I do decide to paint them, it's usually just after i've gotten into bed, or just before i'm about to head out the door.
What I need, therfore is a 'magic' topcoat; one that dries my nails pronto (and hence avoids fetching duvet cover imprints on my nails) yet leaves them lovely and shiny and ideally prevents premature polish chipping.
Many people would probably be thinking Seche Vite right about now, and I have tried that in the past but you know me, I like to keep trying new things until I find my (cruelty free) holy grail product.
Seche Vite was good (before it went gloopy) but expensive at around £9 a bottle, and the Sally Hansen Quick Dry top coat which followed also had a (very, very) gloopy ending and is tested on animals (boo).
Enter stage left China Glaze Fast Forward top coat:
China Glaze are owned by American International Industries (who coincidentally also own Seche) and do not test on animals (hurrah!) - one of the big factors in my top coat search!
China Glaze nail polishes contain China Clay as a nail hardener (the same material that gives porcelain its shiny finish), are DBP, Toulene and Formaldehyde free and are available in an array of beautiful colours (one of my favourite ranges being Capital Colours, which was inspired by The Hunger Games).
The polishes are readily available at beauty industry warehouses/stockists (such as Salon Services or Sally's), but also available online from the likes of Beauty Bay, and whilst they are not the cheapest nail polishes out there at around £6.95 for a 14ml bottle, they are considerably cheaper than the likes of Essie or OPI, and around the same price as a Revlon nail polish.
The Fast Forward top coat is availale from Beauty Bay for £8.50, but I got mine from Amazon for around £5- similar deals are also available on eBay, you just have to keep searching!
Similar to Seche Vite, this top coat is designed to be put over wet polish and permeates all layers of polish to dry them in around 60 seconds, leaving you with a glossy finish.
I would say realistically they are touch dry in about a minute, and 'properly' dry (i.e. you can fish about in your bag and not get smudges) in about 5 minutes.
Top Coat over an Essie polish
It does exacty what it says on the tin, and seems to harden your nails at the same time, which is handy.
The brush is a 'normal' size, and the product goes on easily (if a little too thickly at times, although it seems to thin out when drying), drying to a lovely glossy finish.
In terms of prolonging the length of a manicure, it doesn't claim to do this, but I would say it does definitely help - my nails were painted for 4 days before chipping, which is quite unheard of for me, especially with a No7 polish which are really bad for chipping.
The only minor gripe I have about it is the smell (a very oddly sickly sweet yet chemically scent), but this is only initially on application - it disappears once the top coat as dried.
I do worry that this will turn gloopy a la the Seche Vite and the Sally Hansen top coats, but I think this sadly just comes with the 'fast dry' territory at the moment!
Overall I do like this as a cheaper alternative to Seche Vite (and a cruelty free version to Sally Hansen) and would like to try out more China Glaze polishes - do you recommend any?