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What Is a UV Top Coat?

By T. M. Robertson
Updated May 21, 2024
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UV top coat is a type of fingernail polish used over colored polishes. Its primary purpose is to enhance the appearance and shine of the nails, while at the same time extending the life of colored polishes. Nails finished with top coats are less likely to chip, fade, or wear away, and they also add additional strength and durability to the nails, which helps prevent unnecessary breakage. A thin layer of the gel is applied on top of the regular colored polish after it dries, and then UV lights are used to set and harden it into place.

When a UV top coat is used over regular nail polish, it offers several advantages. It creates a shiny and almost mirror-like finish to the nails that's appealing to many people. It also provides additional protection from breakage and prevents the nail polish color from chipping and wearing off prematurely. Without using a top coat, nail color begins wearing and chipping away in a couple of days. With one, nail color can last up to two weeks before it begins degrading and wearing off.

The texture of a nail with a UV top coat on it has more of the consistency of gel than what's experienced with using traditional polish, and this is what makes it stronger and less prone to breakage. Since using this product offers greater durability, scratch resistance, and shine, many salons charge more for this type of service than they do for using a standard air-dry top coat. Using one is very beneficial for individuals who are too busy to have their nails done in a salon more than every couple of weeks.

Before applying the top coat over the nails, they must first be cleaned and polished. The coating can also be applied over cured acrylic nails if desired. After the nails are completely dry, a thin layer of top coat is applied over the entire surface of each nail. The covered nails are then placed under a UV light that assists with setting and drying them much faster than air drying. After a few minutes under the light, the nails will be stronger, more durable, and shiny.

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