Which Nail Polish Lasts the Longest Without a Top Coat?

We put five brands to the daily-life-tasks test.
Publish date:
September 29, 2015
butter london, opi, deborah lippmann, zoya, Jin Soon, nail polish

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine was probing me about which nail polish brands held up the best. Since I have my top-coat game down, I’d never really given much thought to long-lasting brands. She lamented that even with the toughest top coat, keeping her polish in place for longer than a day or two (max) was near impossible given the necessity for her to wash or sanitize her hands very frequently due to living with OCD.

With her help, we tested five different brands to see how they held up to her daily sanitizing routines and my day job (which involves lots of typing).

Since the new Gel Lab Pro Duo rocked my world recently, I expected a lot from this polish. I’m a huge fan of the way it applies (very smooth) but it actually chipped the earliest on me.

Without a top coat, it lasted about four days (which is not terrible), and even with the Gel Lab Pro Duo it only lasted five. My friend agreed that this chipped the worst on her and only lasted about two to three days.

Jin Soon

This, for me, lasted pretty well without a top coat: five days! I thought it wore really well, and I loved the way it applied.

My friend said this was the second worst for her, though. It technically chipped sooner than the Deborah Lippmann (two days), but she mentioned that the chip was very slight and not as noticeable.


I’ve used OPI for years, but generally with a top coat, so I was excited to see that this lasted really well on my hands. I made it about six days chip-free without a top coat.

My friend made it about three days and said that it chipped a little sooner than a couple of the brands, but overall, she felt it wore better (the chipping was slight).

Butter London

I bought a few Butter London polishes on sale not too long ago, and I’m very impressed by how long they last without a top coat. I made it a full week with no chips and just slight shrinkage at the tips of the nails.

The verdict was similar for my friend; this polish lasted her the longest at four days.


Of all the brands I tried, this was the most impressive. It lasted me a full week, it still looked pretty nice, and it’s not outlandishly priced. This chipped slightly sooner than Butter London did for my friend, but she agreed that the overall wear was better.

Ultimately, Zoya was the agreed-upon winner between my friend and I, but Butter London was a close second for me, with OPI in that slot for her.

  • What nail polish brands have you had the best luck with for long-lasting manis?
  • Do you find your job/lifestyle/etc. causes problems for you in the manicure department?