REVIEW | Essie “No Chips Ahead” Topcoat


And the search for the perfect topcoat continues.

I’ve been burned before by topcoats, lured in by false promises of “high shine” and “flawless finish,” only to be left with bubbles and chipping.  I’m a huge fan of Essie polishes, and I remember having generally positive feelings about their other topcoat “Good To Go!” so I was more than willing to give “No Chips Ahead” a chance, as chipping is the biggest challenge my mani faces.  Generally, I’m pretty rough on my hands so anything that promises to prolong my polish warrants my attention. Unfortunately, “No Chips Ahead” brought nothing but frustration.

There are several issues I had with this top coat:

1) It goes on very thin and it’s hard to get even coverage.

2) Dry time was also an issue, as it was EPIC.  I applied the topcoat around 7:30pm and settled in to marathon-watch Dexter (I don’t have Showtime or HBO, so I’m making up for lost time), and around 10:45pm, my nails still hadn’t set.  They were tacky to the touch, so once I smoothed out the fingerprint I inadvertently left on my left thumb, I settled in to watch *just one more* episode (twist my arm).  Around midnight, they appeared to be dry, so I went to bed.  When I woke up the next morning, I woke up to three of the four cardinal sins of manicures:  smudging, dragging and creasing.  No chips, but then again, there are no sharp edges in my bed. I went to the bathroom to take my polish off, and found my nails sticking to the inside of the plastic bag containing my cotton balls.  All in all, over 14 hours had passed and my nails STILL WEREN’T DRY and the polish STILL HADN’T SET.

I tend to be a bit too self-reflective.  I figured I had done something wrong.  Maybe it was because I had painted three coats and not two of the polish.  Maybe it was because I was using an OPI polish and not an Essie polish.  I had spent $8 on this topcoat…it couldn’t be TOTALLY ineffective, could it?  I was determined to try again.

And I did that night.  I applied two coats of my favorite Essie polish (Clambake), and applied No Chips Ahead, following the directions to a T. I watched another three episodes of Dexter, barely moving my hands, and I *thought* it had worked.  I turned out the light and went to bed, making sure my hands were out of the covers as I went to sleep.  To no avail.  I woke up to creasing and smudging, with my nails tacky to the touch (even though they had felt dry before I went to sleep???).

Bottom line: I did a little research, and I’ve read TONS of reviews that say the exact same thing:  this topcoat apparently does not dry.  Ever.  True to the name, my nails did not chip…but that’s because they never set to begin with, rendering them smudged, creased and generally gross.  No bueno.  I’ll be sticking to their polishes only from here on out.


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