Tinted Top Coats Are My New Favorite Way to Subtly Change My Nail Color

I tested some of my favorites on henna-colored and naked nails.
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Publish date:
July 21, 2015
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top coats, nail polish, Orly, L'oreal

Why finish your nails with a plain old clear top coat these days when you can get a matte, super-shiny, glittery, iridescent, or even tinted look depending on what you use. Knowing what we do about color, you can use tinted top coats to slightly alter a color to better suit your skin’s undertones, not to mention that slightly changing a your natural nails or a color is strangely satisfying. I find it brightens the nails and makes colors pop whether painting on naked nails, henna, or colored polishes.

When I tried at-home LED gel from Sensationail, I decided trying the translucent pink over my fiery red couldn’t hurt. It turned out to be a great decision, as this coat made the red look completely opaque and glow with a wet shine. It was AWESOME. So I decided to pit this color against four other top coats to compare the difference on my red nails and my friend Maria’s natural nails.

Clear: Seche Vite

Let's consider this the control top coat, so you know what our nails would look like with just a clear layer. Though I absolutely adore the finish of Seche Vite, it always peels off of my nails. I have the saddest face about it. I think some people don’t have this problem, and if it stayed on my nails I would use it consistently, but it just comes off within a day, and I can’t!

Despite my problem, which I never had when using conventional polish, this is considered one of the best top coats of all time.

Coral: Orly Beverly Hills French Manicure in Beverly Hills Plum

When the Sally Mobile Nail Studio Truck rolled into town and I got a mini manicure, I chose Orly’s Beverly Hills French Manicure, a hot orange translucent color called Beverly Hills Plum. I was sold!

I love this effect, and two coats gives nails a really shiny and professional-feeling coating. On natural nails this has a beachy tone, it doesn’t look fake like the pink ones sometimes can; it makes natural nails look bright and alive, and improves their appearance.

Blue: L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Last Nail Color in Infinite Lilac

I loooooved this effect on the red, it was almost the feel you get from combining a blue red and an orange red lipstick, like Tatcha’s Kyoto Red. The blue is brightening and the polish itself has a hardened finish—not as thick as the Orly or Seche Vite, but a few coats will still do the job.

On natural nails, it has a minimizing effect, and on warmer toned skin can look a little unnatural, but I happen to think it looks pretty cool.

Peachy Pink: L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Last Nailcolor in Perfect Peach

This peach tinted pink top coat will soften whatever is under it. On natural nails, it looks like you have really good circulation; over henna red, you get a softened effect that helps mask the sometimes uneven variations. Over their pinky peach polish you enhanced the warm tones even more.

If you have cool toned skin this will make a natural manicure or French manicure look more alive. It can look highlighter-pink, which can be a unique twist.

Hot Pink: L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Last Nailcolor in Red Infallible

It’s been fun playing with these, and even though the differences in color are completely minuscule, the eye can really see minute variations. This hot pink peaks the henna red into the closest to real nail polish red I have ever seen. This gives the naturally earthy red nails that hot carmine pinkish red effect that can’t usually be expressed by henna.

On natural nails, you get a neon tone which is fun. I can’t wait to play with the red nail polish that comes on the other end of this top coat.

These top coats have showed me that even natural nails or basic red can get an upgrade that is subtle but adorable.

  • Do you prefer a tinted top coat?
  • Any French manicure devotees who like to use the pink ones?

Photos: Maria Penaloza