Monday, November 25, 2013

Matte Topcoat Comparisons, Part 6

My desire to collect matte topcoats continues unabated. Today I've got the most recent eight (yes, eight, and yes, that's a lot) to join my stash going up against some favorites from past installments of this ongoing series.

The first quartet to take the stage consists of Nicole by OPI Matte Top Coat (purchased at CVS), OPI Matte Top Coat (one of our returning champions), Sally Hansen Big Matte Top Coat (purchased at Meijer from the new Nail Art Display), and Formula X for Sephora (purchased, not surprisingly, from Sephora).

Below, on the nail in the same order over Wet 'n' Wild Black Creme:

The Nicole by OPI ($7.99 for .5 oz.) appears to be just the same as the OPI ($9 for .5 oz.), which is good, as I really like the OPI. The Sally Hansen (around $5 or $6, I think, for .4 oz.) holds up very well against the first two as far as matteness and application. The Formula X for Sephora ($12.50) is just a tiny touch less matte than the other three. This was my first time trying anything from Formula X; I was happy to find that the chunky outer cap lifts off. The Sally Hansen is the best value in this group; I don't remember exactly what I paid, but I know it was at least a couple dollars less than any of the others (it is a slightly smaller bottle, true: .4 oz).

I carried over the Nicole and OPI to the next set, where they were joined by newcomers Deborah Lippmann Flat Top (I think this has been around a while but I just got from Beauty Brands recently) and Dolce & Gabbana Matte Nail Coat (from Sephora).

Here they are on the nail, same order as bottles above :

I have to say I was disappointed by the two high end toppers. Neither one matched the NOPI/OPI as far as matteness, and neither applied as smoothly, either. The Lippmann (retail price $20 for .5 oz.) was a bit more matte than the D&G ($24 for .37 oz.). This was my first time touching a D&G bottle; that gold cap slides off to reveal a ridged black plastic one. It's definitely quality packaging, but if you want truly matte nails, I'd pick a different topcoat.

Next up, it's Nails Inc. Westminster Bridge Matte Effect Top Coat (from Sephora), OPI (to provide our standard of matteness), Nina Ultra Pro Matte Topcoat (bought at Sally Beauty), and Illamasqua Matte Top Coat (from Sephora).

On the nail, same order as bottles:

The Nails Inc. ($10 for .33 oz.) is more of a wax/satin finish than anything I'd call matte. The Nina Ultra Pro ($3.99 for .5 oz.) is nicely matte, but I had trouble getting it to apply smoothly; I blame the brush, which is very wide and a bit stiff. The Illamasqua ($14 for .5 oz,) is also nicely matte and applied nicely. It's not $5 more matte than the OPI, though.

I know I said I had eight new matte toppers to share, and we've now seen all eight, yet I am not quite done. At the same time as I picked up the Nina Ultra Pro Matte Topcoat, I got Nina Ultra Pro Black Vinyl, which I understood was a matte black polish. So I wanted to try that and figured I'd give the Nina matte topper another go to see if could wrangle the brush better this time. I pulled out the Sally Girl limited edition matte topcoat for comparison's sake, and filled out the quartet with the Nails Inc., thinking maybe I just hadn't let it dry long enough the first time or something.

And here they are on the nail (the toppers over Wet 'n' Wild Black Creme, of course):

Black Vinyl dries to a satin/wax/ finish. I did better with the Nina topper this time; it looks like it's the same as the Sally Girl as far as finish. The Nails Inc. was no more matte this time, and I waited extra long for it to dry (obviously the Nina and Sally Girl had plenty of time to dry matte).

Of the eight new to me matte topcoats in this post, the Nina Ultra Pro and Sally Hansen provide the most matte for your money.

Previous installments in the series in case you missed any or want to look back:

Part 1: OPI, Barielle, China Glaze, Sinful Colors, Butter London, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
Part 2: Revlon, NYC, Essie, Claire's
Part 3: OPI, Essie, GOSH, Cult Nails, Icing, Ulta, Fing'rs
Part 4: Orly, Salon Perfect, OPI, Sally Girl
Part 5: OPI, elf, L'Oreal


  1. Wowza, this is an amazing review of topcoats! Great job on saving us all some bucks!

  2. Did you see the post on Nouveau Cheap showing Wet n Wild is releasing a Matte top coat?

    1. spritely, no, I did not, thank you! If they understand that matte is not the same as satin, that should be a good one.

  3. Love these matte comparisons. Crazy to see there is so much variation!

  4. Awesome matte swatches! You're really making me aware of how many matte topcoats there are out there!

  5. That is a another perfect post on mattes - I didn't even know Illamasqua had one. It's possible to find matte top coats for any degree of matte :)

  6. What a comparison!! I don't own so many mattes, actually I prefer the satin finish on certain polishes (no surprise I really like the Sephora X). Really sad to see the awful result of that Dolce&Gabbana (and Deborah Lippmann).

  7. I Love that you did this in-depth comparison! I had been looking into purchasing the Sally Hansen matte and after seeing this, have decided . :) Thanks little lady!

  8. What the amazing comparison! Thank you! It helped me to find out which one of them to choose and saved me from being disappointed by the wrong choice. Thank you again :)))

  9. These swatches are so helpful. I'm a tiny bit curious of the essence matte top coat and maybe a big ol' comparison swatcg-paluza of all the mattes you own from most matte to least but this has saved me more than a few bucks already so thanks

  10. I have the Sally Hansen and was really disappointed. White spots show up on the nail after it dries and/or it cracks. (Picture is on my Instagram account: jennyjenjen07). Looking for a new matte top coat.

  11. Wow! What a fantastic review of the matte topcoats! Thank you for taking the time to write this extensive review Karen as it certainly helped me decide which top coat to pick up at the store :)


Thank you for reading and commenting! I greatly appreciate knowing I'm not just talking to myself here. :) I'm moderating most comments now due to the spate of spammers who claim to be looking for sexy times.