How can I get acrylic nails to shine better using top coats?


Can you tell me why when I use a top coat on acrylic nails the shine does not come out well? I must admit I don’t do the three-way shine after using the final white block prior to a polish application, but is there a best top coat for pure, long-lasting shine?


There are two different kinds of top coats: air-dry top coats and gel top coats. The air-dry top coats do not shine as well as the gel top coats.

I suggest using a gel top coat, and I recommend Young Nails’ Finish Gel. It cures in 90 seconds and guarantees a two-week shine.

Lamp and bulbs also make a difference in final shine. I recommend using 9-watt bulbs and four bulbs in a lamp as ideal.

You also mention you’re using polish. Keep in mind that you cannot use a gel top coat over polish. If the polish is not 100% dry it will crack the gel top coat. If you’re putting polish on, then in that case you should use an air-dry top coat. I suggest Young Nails’ Ultra Violet (YUV) top coat. It has a purple hue to make colors really pop. 

— Amanda Dodge is a Young Nails educator from American Fork, Utah.


If you’re going to use an air-dry top coat, remember that the smoother the surface the top coat is applied to, the better the shine results will be. This means moving up through file grits from 180 up to at least a 1,200-grit buffer, which I use with oil. I recommend using CND’s Solar Oil because it penetrates and actually speeds the curing process of the acrylic. Then, after cleaning the nails to remove excess oil, I apply both a base coat and top coat. Here again I go with CND products. Stickey Base Coat is great and helps fill in any possible remaining roughness and helps the top coat stick better. I follow with Super Shiney Top Coat. It leaves a really hard finish, has UV inhibitors, and keeps a lasting shine.   

— Bonnie Rios is an educator for CND from Rio Rancho, N.M.

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