Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Battle of: the Matte Top Coats!

Hey y'all!

Before we get into this, I just want to take a moment to thank you all for the really astonishing amount of support I received for my No H8 post a couple days ago.  I'm kind of taken aback by it, to be honest, and feeling thoroughly humbled that so many of you read it and took the time to show your support!  That said, I hope I can continue to bring you back to read my ramblings.  :)  I've been threatening to do this post for a while now, and a week of challenge prompts that left me, well, "less-than-inspired" provides a good opportunity to show you my breakdown of five mainstream matte topcoats in the first of what I hope to become a series of "Battle of:" challenges.

Let's begin with some basics.  I began with two coats of Sinful Colors Unicorn on all my nails, let them dry, then stamped the same crochet/knit pattern image from VL 025 in Konad Black on them all.  I let that dry and then topcoated each nail with SV and let that cure overnight so I would have a completely dry base to work on.  You'll notice a bit of smudging on the stamped images in my pictures - that's from the SV, not these mattes.  I've never found a matte topcoat that doesn't smear nail art *really badly* so I always seal it with a quick-dry topcoat before I apply the matte topcoat.

TEST ONE: Dry Time

I painted each nail with one coat of a different matte topcoat and let dry under a fan for 2 minutes, then attempted to dent with a dotting tool.  I put them back under the fan and did another dent test at 5 minutes.  I tested again at 10 minutes, but the results were negligible, so we can safely say that all of these 5 brands dries well under a fan in less than 10 minutes.  I will also note that I used medium pressure on the dent test, similar to the kind of pressure I get when I carelessly gesticulate while talking and inevitably smack my wet nails onto a corner.

On my thumb:   
e.l.f. Matte Finisher, £2.50,
(USA - $2,

As you can see, the elf matte dents really easily at 2 minutes, and still pretty easily at 5 minutes.  This isn't one to use if you're looking to get out the door yesterday!

On my index:
Barry M Matte Top Coat, £2.99, Superdrug (and others)
(USA - sorry, but check Amazon and eBay or make really good friends with someone across the pond!)

Denting was less severe than with the elf, but still noticeable.  Might want to treat these fairly gently for a bit, but nothing too severe.

On my middle:
NYC Matte Me Crazy!, currently £4.39 for 2 on Amazon
(USA - pretty sure I got mine for $1.97 at Walmart)

Denting was MUCH less noticeable at both 2 and 5 minute intervals here.  Granted, there is some disruption, but it's really faint at 2 and practically nil at 5. 

On my ring:
OPI Matte Top Coat, currently £9.49 on Amazon
(USA - should be able to find this at Ulta or online for around $8)

Denting at 2 minutes was definitely present, but not bad.  At 5 minutes it was only slightly more noticeable than the NYC.  Not bad!

On my pinky:
Sally Hansen big matte top coat (currently £5.52 on Amazon)
(USA - I think I paid $5.99 at Walgreens)

Pretty noticeable denting at both 2 and 5 minutes.  Not suitable for hand-talkers.  Or mimes.  Or moms in a hurry.

WINNER:  Hands down my winner here is NYC, with OPI in a close second.
LOSER:  Since all the challengers dried within 10 minutes, it's hard to really pick a true loser here, but I think the e.l.f. was definitely the most delicate of the bunch.

TEST TWO: Finish Effect

I only photographed after all the nails had dried fully, so this should mean they had a chance to reach full opacity.  Frankly, if it isn't matte by the time it dries, it isn't matte.  I wanted to look for a few things, primarily how much image distortion happened, how much "grey fog" occurs, and reflective properties.

As you can see, there are as many different finishes here as there are polishes.  Let me break them down by brand.  Also note that I'm looking at the part of the image underneath where I did the dent testing.

e.l.f.:  While there's no distortion of my image underneath, I can only describe the finish as more of a wax matte.  In some applications, this might be ideal, but if you're looking for that completely non-reflective surface, this isn't your winner.
Barry M:  Distortion is really minimal, as is the "greying" factor. No reflection.
NYC:  Slight distortion and just a hint of that greying factor.  No reflection.
OPI:  Really strong greying, and a hint of distortion.  No reflection.
Sally Hansen:  Slightly more distortion than the NYC, but less greying.  No reflection.

WINNER:  I'm going to have to go with the Barry M as the best "true matte" effect.  However, the e.l.f. is definitely worth looking into if you like the wax matte finish.
LOSER:  OPI.  Unfortunately that grey fog really kills this one for me.  I will make one consolation here, which is that my bottle of OPI is about a year older than the others.  I'm willing to retest a fresh bottle if I find other contenders against which to compare it, which is not beyond the realm of possibility, because I recently found that Beauty UK has a matte top coat as well, so... stay tuned?

I really hope you guys enjoyed this little comparison review.  If you have any requests or suggestions for other "Battle of:" challenges, send me a message or leave a comment down below!

Also, before you leave... have you entered the Nail Polish Bloggers Connection Group Giveaway yet?

Have a great week, and I'll see ya soon!