If you are a manicure fanatic, chances are you already own a matte nail polish or two, not to mention a matte top coat! If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the nail polish world, you definitely need to get matte nail colors on your radar, since they are always in style and they can create incredibly sophisticated manicures. Take note from the fashion world, and embrace the awesome potential of matte nails!
To get you started on your journey to elegant matte nails, we’ve collected the very best matte top coats and matte nail colors. To understand where the matte nail polish trend came from, we’ll go into its not at all ancient history.
This article also includes a thorough explanation of how matte top coats and polishes work, and how the two options for matte nails differ from each other. To get you started, we’ll explain how to mattify your nail polish at home (I even include some DIY steps for matte nails!), and how to get your matte manicure to last as long as possible.
Matte Nail Polish Colors & Matte Top Coats: Contents
• 15 Best Matte Nail Polish Colors & Matte Top Coats to Buy
• Matte Top Coat vs. Matte Nail Polish
• The Trend of Matte Nails: History & Facts
• How to Make Matte Nail Polish
• How to Make Matte Nail Polish Last
Whether you are looking for the perfect matte top coat to mattify the nail colors you already own or just are on the hunt for the best matte nail polish color, here we have the most winning options on the beauty market for you.
1. Chanel Le Vernis Velvet Nail Colour in Profondeur
This deep wine tone is perfect as a matte nail polish. It is extremely easy to apply because of the large applicator brush, and it becomes opaque in two easy coats. The formula features some lovely nail-fortifying ingredients like vitamins and ceramides, and does not include any harmful chemicals. You can buy it directly from Chanel.
2. Zoya Nail Polish Matte Velvet in Iris
This dark purple shade is to die for. It is elegant and rich, with a smooth matte finish. A close look at the polish reveals a subtle pearl fleck that adds a hint of glimmer. It is as fuss-free as matte nail polish gets, with a long-lasting formula that does not require any base coats or top coats. Order it online through Amazon!
3. Golden Rose Matte Nail Lacquer
This deep purple shade is a joyful take on matte nail colors that are perfect for summer. The formula requires two easy coats for opaque coverage. The brand admits that this formula doesn’t have quite as much longevity as their typical nail polish. It is available online through Amazon.
4. Base Coat Matte Top Coat
This vegan, eight-free matte top coat comes in one of the coolest containers we’ve seen, so if you’re a fan of sleek-looking bottles definitely give this one a shot. It’ll quickly mattify any nail polish and even increase its wear-time. Find a bottle at Nordstrom!
5. OPI Matte Top Coat
OPI is the biggest name in nail polishes, so of course they’ve released one of the best matte top coats on the market. It’ll easily double your nail polish collection by turning all shades matte, and is a natural choice if you’re already an OPI fanatic. Like all OPI products, it is free of the 5 main harmful chemicals that sometimes show up in nail products. Pick it up at Ulta Beauty!
6. Dolce & Gabbana Beauty Matte Nail Coat
Painting this matte top coat over your nails will get you feeling instantly glamorous in a way only luxury products can. It’s a matte top coat that gives a flawless velvet finish to any nail color quickly, while also slightly extending your polish’s longevity. You can get it from Harrods.
7. Essie Matte About You Matte Finisher
The other big name in the polish game is Essie, the brand that created one of the first matte top coats we’re all obsessing over. If you’re already an Essie fan, it makes sense to pick up their matte top coat to go with all of their other polishes. It’s a 3-free formula that is available at Ulta Beauty.
8. Jessica Custom Nail Colour in Matte Black
When we think of the various nail polish shades to mattify, black comes to mind as a clear choice. There is something dark and magnetic about matte nail polish in black – it is an edgy way of doing black nail polish that is also totally mature. This excellent matte black from Jessica has a 7-free formula that is enriched with nail-strengthening vitamins. Order it online via Amazon!
9. Sally Hansen Big Matte Top Coat
Enjoy perfect matte nail colors with just an easy swipe! The trick to getting this matte top coat to work is to use a very thin coat, which is easy to do since the brush is large and smooth. It is not the most elegant of bottles, but the price more than justifies it. It can be purchased from Amazon.
10. Revlon Transforming Effects Top Coat in Matte Pearl Glaze
This is a totally unique take on matte top coats from Revlon. This top coat doesn’t just mattify your nail polish, but also it gives it a pearlescent finish. This subtle shine courtesy of little flecks doesn’t take away from the matte effect, but instead it seems to amplify it, making for a rare manicure. The formula is five-free to boot. Order it online from Amazon!
11. Lauren B. Beauty Nail Perfecter
Like a CC cream for your nails, this base coat gives natural nails a flawless matte finish that also fills in ridges and conceals imperfections. While this product will not mattify other nail polishes, it is a great way to enjoy the matte trend without fuss and with your natural nails. Find a bottle at SkinCareRX!
12. SpaRitual Luminary Matte Top Effect
This is another option if your love for matte top coats knows no bounds. This unique product mattifies the nails while also giving an iridescent purple shimmer that is hard to resist. Like all SpaRitual polishes, it is vegan and 3-free, and comes in a bottle with a super comfy ergonomic grip, for the manicure addicts. Buy a bottle from SkinStore!
13. LondonTown Kur Protective Matte Top Coat
This is a vegan, five-free matte top coat that will totally transform your manicure from high-shine to flawlessly matte. It is a surprisingly long-lasting formula that can work with both matte and shiny nail polishes, and comes in a super sleek bottle. Get it at Ulta Beauty!
14. JINsoon Matte Maker Nail Polish
Get yourself a cruelty-free matte top coat made in the US! It works like a charm to mattify nail polishes, and has one of the longest-wearing formulas around. The clear, black-lidded bottle will look extremely elegant sitting in your polish drawer. This matte top coat is available at Saks Fifth Avenue.
15. Cirque Colors Matte Look Top Coat
Velvety nails, sleek bottle, five-free formula: what else could you want? This is one of the loveliest matte top coats, with a long-lasting formula and an easy-to-use design. You can order it from Revolve.
A matte top coat is a clear nail polish formula that is intended to go over any sort of nail polish, to give it a matte finish. Nail polish is normally shiny because it has a very flat surface that is able to reflect light. The way matte top coat works is by disrupting that flat surface with a texture that is uneven on a microscopic level.
The matte top coat sends light in every direction, diffusing the light so when one looks at the nails straight on, they appear totally matte. The secret ingredient to commercial matte top coats is silica gel, which acts as the microscopic texturizer that makes the surface of the nails uneven.
Matte nail polish, on the other hand, is matte straight out of the bottle, and no top coat is needed. It follows that since matte top coat is a clear nail polish loaded up with silica, then colored matte nail polish must also be a regular polish formula with silica.
These days consumers have realized that it’s much easier to own just one matte top coat that will transform all of their nail polishes than it is to own both matte and shiny versions of the same nail polish.
I remember when the matte nail polish trend first started in 2009, because that was also the year I got really into nail polish! Overnight it seemed like everyone was suddenly sporting matte nails, and I was instantly hooked.
Before we start, it’s important to note that the nail polish brand ManGlaze has laid claim to creating the original matte nail polish in 2007, two years before the trend took off. Their matte nail polishes, with names like ‘Matte is Murder’ (a black) and ‘Nawesome Sauce’ (a forest green), were specifically made for male metal fans. They deserve credit for being the first, even if they weren’t necessarily the trendsetters.
The matte nail polish trend seemed to actually start with OPI releasing a collection of matte versions of their six bestsellers, with many other brands soon following. By 2010 the obsession with nail polishes seemed to transform into an obsession with matte top coats, which were more economical, since they could transform any nail polish into a matte nail polish.
Brands like OPI, ORLY, Essie, and SpaRitual all released their own versions. Matte top coats were also perfect for the minimalist nail art craze, since they could help create all kinds of subtle nail art looks, like matte French tips or matte line art.
There are a few ways you can get those gorgeous matte nails – buying a matte nail polish color, using a matte top coat, and DIY versions that are worth checking out.
Use a Matte Top Coat
You don’t have to go out and buy a matte nail polish – you can mattify your nail polish at home all by yourself, with the help of a matte top coat. Simply choose one of your favorites from our list of the best matte top coats!
Apply your nail polish as you normally would, and then swipe on some mattifying top coat, and voila, perfect matte nails! The trickier part is getting the matte top coat to last a while, but keep reading to get the step by step details on how to get your matte nails to last as long as possible.
Make Your Own Matte Top Coat
For you DIY fans out there, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can create your very own matte top coat at home! Using silica, the ingredient used in commercial matte top coats, is a dangerous game, but Dr. Michelle Wong from LabMuffin did the research and found out that corn flour can work almost as well.
• If you like your at-home creations to feel super scientific and precise, you’ll want to pick up an empty nail polish bottle that has a ball in it for mixing. You can get that kind of supply through Amazon.
• Pour 1 ml of regular top coat into your empty nail polish bottle, and follow that up with ⅛ teaspoon of finely milled corn flour. Shake the bottle thoroughly, and you’ll have made your own wonderful concoction.
• If you don’t have an empty nail polish bottle on hand and you want that matte manicure asap, you can mix the clear top coat and corn flour together with a toothpick on top of some aluminum foil, and then apply with any clean nail polish brush. You will have to work quickly, though, as the mixture can get dry and gloopy very fast.
The effect of this mixture is a bit more satiny than a silica-based matte top coat, but it’s still very striking and beautiful. You can try to follow the exact same recipe, but using a colored nail polish instead of a clear one. This will turn your regular nail polish into a matte nail polish in minutes!
How to Make Nail Polish Matte Using Steam
One of the most unique ways of mattifying your nail polish is with the help of steam. Be careful when following this method, as overly hot steam can burn your fingers.
This method requires expert timing, as you must steam the nail polish when it is still wet. If you dawdle, your nail polish will dry before you’ve had a chance to mattify it.
• Before getting ready to paint your fingernails, set a kettle to boil.
• As the water is boiling, paint your fingernails with whichever nail polish you would like to mattify.
• Once you’re happy with the opacity of the polish, carefully pour the hot water from the kettle into a shallow bowl. You want the water to be steaming, but you don’t want it so hot that the steam burns your fingers.
• Carefully hold your fingers over the bowl, allowing the steam to hit your fingernails. Move your hand around a bit to ensure that the steam gets to every finger.
• After 3-5 seconds, take your hand away from the steam. Repeat this process for the other hand.
• Next wait 10-15 minutes for your nail polish to finish drying, and you’ll see that it’ll have dried completely matte!
One of the biggest complaints about matte manicures is that they don’t last as long as their shiny counterparts. While it is true for the most part that a matte nail polish will chip sooner, there are steps you can take to increase its longevity.
Prep Is Key
It’s important that you prep your nails the right way to avoid having your matte nail polish chip too easily.
• Naturally, you’ll want to file your nails into a shape that you like.
• You should also take a moment to wash your hands to ensure that there are no oils on them, whether from hand creams or just natural sebum.
• Once your hands are clean and dry you can apply a base coat. The job of a base coat is to fill in any gaps and ridges in your nails, and to act as a glue that grabs on to your matte nail polish and keeps it in place.
• Apply the base coat by starting at the center of the nail as close to the nail bed as possible without touching it or the cuticles, and pull it up to the tip of the nail.
• Apply two more thin swipes on the left and right side of the nail.
• To prevent the matte nail polish chipping or pulling back from the tip of the nail, also apply a touch of the base coat over the tip in a vertical stripe.
• Allow your base coat to dry completely before applying your matte nail polish.
When Using Matte Nail Polish
• If you’re using a matte nail polish to achieve your look, that base coat is especially important because chances are you won’t be using a top coat. As with any nail polish, multiple thin coats are going to last much longer and look way better than few thicker coats.
• Like your base coat, you want to apply your matte nail colors in three swipes, starting from the center of the base of the nail, and once again you will want to wrap the nail polish around by applying it over the edge of the nail in a vertical stripe. Two coats are usually enough, as matte nail polishes tend to be quite opaque.
• Make sure to wait for one coat of your matte nail polish to dry completely before applying the next coat. This will take longer than with a regular nail polish, so be ready to wait and take your time with the whole process!
• As an optional step, you can actually apply a matte top coat over your matte nail polish in order to get the extra seal. You cannot use a regular top coat, since it’ll give your nails the shiny finish you were trying to avoid in the first place.
• Once you’re totally done, wait at least 45 minutes before letting anything come into contact with your matte nails.
When Using Matte Top Coats
• Once you’ve applied your nail polish base, apply the nail polish you would like to mattify, following the same technique I describe for applying matte nail colors: follow the three swipes method, and wrap the color around the end of the nail.
• Once your nail polish has dried completely, seal it into place – not with the matte top coat, but with a regular clear top coat! The Seche Vite fast drying top coat from Amazon or Ulta Beauty is our fave for that. Clear top coats are better sealants than matte top coats, so they will seriously reinforce your manicure.
• Once your clear top coat has totally dried, you can apply a thin layer of your matte top coat of choice. Make sure to allow your matte top coat adequate time to dry before you allow anything to touch your nails. It can take up to half an hour for matte top coat to completely dry, so don’t let its velvety appearance fool you.
• While you may notice that your matte top coat begins to fade after a couple of days, your actual nail polish will be reinforced from chipping. You can reapply your matte top coat if it begins to fade, and consider it a fairly easy manicure update.
Photos via @id_nails_space, @unistella_kr