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The Matte Nail Polish Trend: Our Take & How to Rock It


When I think of a nice manicure, my mind immediately jumps to well-maintained, shiny nails. After all, isn’t that why we all use top coats? But even though I absolutely love that look, sometimes I just need something different. Something edgier. Darker.

On the complete other side of the spectrum is matte nail polish. Exactly what it sounds like, matte finish means a polish that’s completely devoid of shine. Matte nails have been trendy for a new seasons now – ever since king of cool Alexander Wang sent matte nails down his Fall 2010 runway, the trend has been everywhere, including the runways at DKNY, L.A.M.B., and Catherine Malandrino.

Many runway beauty trends are extreme (to say the least), but I think this one is definitely doable! If you guys are curious about matte nails, read on for my top tips on getting the look!

How to Get Matte Nails – The Products:


If you want your nails to be matte, you have two options:

The first is to buy special matte nail polish. Instead of a slightly shiny finish, these polishes claim to dry completely matte. Zoya has a collection out, as do OPI, NYX and Orly. I personally haven’t tried these, and depending on the brand, reviews are pretty mixed.

Your other, more cost-friendly option is to buy a matte top coat. There are a ton of these on the market at different price points, but I think the best one out there for the price is Essie’s Matte About You ($4.35 at Amazon). Unlike other formulas, this one completely mattifies polish without changing its color.

Applying a Matte Top Coat:

The application of a matte top coat is a little different than a normal top coat, and takes a little more work to get right.

While a shiny top coat can camouflage most application mistakes, a matte top coat does the opposite – it will magnify any unevenness, streaks, or other issues on your nail. Furthermore, it takes a long time to dry – I’d say it takes 20 minutes until you’re OK to drive or read, but a full hour or two until your nails are completely hard. Also, something I dislike about Essie’s Matte About You (or perhaps matte top coats in general) is that it offers absolutely no protection against chips.

Even with all of these pitfalls, however, I still think a matte top coat is the way to go – for your money, it makes more sense to buy one bottle of polish you can use with every shade you own. And the rewards are worth the effort – matte nails are so chic and absolutely perfect for the cold months!

Matte Top Coat Inspiration:

Think matte nail polish is one-dimensional? Think again! Here are some fun mani ideas using matte top coats:

1. Glossy French Tips – via The Drugstore Princess


This look is so easy to do and looks awesome. Just put tape on your tips, paint the rest of your nail with a matte top coat and voila – french tips with a twist!

2. Konad over Matte Nails - via Nuova Ossessione


Again, this is so easy to do and yields great results! After applying two coats of polish (any color will do, although I love the black-on-black combination), apply your matte top coat and do Konad nail stamping over it.

3. Over Glitter Polish - via


We all associate glitter with shine, right? Well, think again. Putting a matte top coat over your favorite glitter polish gives it that special kick and makes it look completely unique. This would be perfect for the holidays!

What do you guys think?

Would you try matte nails? Do you already rock the look? Do you prefer matte polish or a matte top coat? Tell me everything in the comments!

Posted on on November 11, 2011 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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51 Responses to “The Matte Nail Polish Trend: Our Take & How to Rock It”

  1. 1
    November 11th, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I purchased matte finishing top coat from Essence (german brand) for like 1 euro 50 c, and it’s very good. It didn’t chip until like fourth day and that’s quite impressive for a nailpolish that cheap :)

  2. 2
    November 11th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    I think this sort of falls into the whole vamp trend that’s going on, but I do like it. It’s definitely edgy and it has a bit of a “rebel” thing to it. I love the first example. I think that’s a great way to re-invent a classic. Great post!

  3. 3
    November 11th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I love the matte french tips! The glitter ones are cool too, but the french tips are my favorite. I’m definitely going to have to try that out!

  4. 4
    November 11th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I love the Essie topcoat! One thing I’ve found that helps is to use a quick dry top coat over the polish, let it dry, and then use the Essie over that. It evens out the polish, and makes the drying time/chipping issue a little less painful!

  5. 5
    November 11th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I bought a cheap matte finish (E.L.F.). I found that using a regular top coat over the polish then the matte finish over the top coat helps with the chipping. More steps, yes, but it lasts longer.

  6. 6
    November 11th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I have the same top coat and have had it about 8 months. I get Tina of compliments and I love the idea of shiny tips!

    Down side it chips super easy

  7. 7
    November 11th, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Oops tons :)

  8. 8
    November 11th, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    the glossy french tips photo should be credited to Chloe’s Nails (, people always steal her photos and crop out her watermark…

  9. 9
    November 11th, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Ha, I have the glossy french tips on black right now on my nails! I had such a hard time trying to find a matte top coat that I broke down and just bought black and white matte. Any ideas of what stores carry the matte top coats?

  10. 10
    November 11th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Ooh I love the first and second ideas. :) I’ll definitely be purchasing a matte top coat ASAP. I do my nails every week, and I’ve started to get a little bored with my polish selection. However, a matte top coat means I’ve pretty much got twice as many polishes!

  11. 11
    November 11th, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    butter has an awesome matte top coat that takes only about 5 minutes to dry.

  12. 12
    November 11th, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I found a bottle of navy matte OPI nail polish for $3 at an outlet beauty supply store. I love it! I can’t wait to try the french tips.

  13. 13
    November 11th, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    ohh the french tips are gorgeous! i got my matte topcoat at walmart for a few bucks. it was by hardcandy, and i think its pretty good. my polish didn’t chip till like a week?

  14. 14
    November 11th, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    love the glitter matte! It looks very sophisticated and unique!

  15. 15
    November 12th, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I never thought of putting it over glitter polish, totally unexpected but it looks really cute!

  16. 16
    November 12th, 2011 at 1:45 am

    I like the matte look a lot! But the no protection against chips is total downer.

  17. 17
    November 12th, 2011 at 2:22 am

    Love it!

  18. 18
    November 12th, 2011 at 4:49 am

    Great Nail Design

  19. 19
    November 12th, 2011 at 7:27 am

    Love the glossy french tips! Gonna try them soon :)

  20. 20
    November 12th, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Oooh, I definitely need a matte top coat! I love it over the glitter polish. What a great look for the holidays.

  21. 21
    November 12th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    sephora has a great matte top coat

  22. 22
    November 12th, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I bought a matte topcoat from beautyUK (dunno if you’d find it in the US), it was like $4 and it dries quicker than any other polish I own and it’s super easy to apply. I love to do all sorts of nail art with it and it doesn’t chip for a week :D

  23. 23
    November 12th, 2011 at 9:51 am

    e.l.f. also has a $2 matte top coat. It’s great!

  24. 24
    November 12th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    i LOVE the glossy tips idea, looks so modern and chic!

  25. 25
    November 12th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    This is one trend I’ll have to pass on.

  26. 26
    November 12th, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I want to get my hands on this so much!

  27. 27
    November 13th, 2011 at 3:03 am

    All you have to do to keep it from chipping is first apply a top coat that’s shiny, let is set completely, then put of the matte!

  28. 28
    November 13th, 2011 at 4:10 am

    I have the China Glaze matte top coat and it dries in about 2-5 minutes. I usually choose it over my shiny top coats because it’s faster.

  29. 29
    March 9th, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I have the Essie Matte topcoat and I dont find a problem with drying time – I actually find it dried faster than all my shiny nail polishes for some reason…

  30. 30
    March 9th, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Oh yeah, and putting the matte topcoat over a metallic nail polish also gave an interesting effect too!

  31. 31
    April 13th, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    I’ve found that if you do your base coat and two coats per usual and then put a speed-dry top coat on (I like seche vite) before the matte finish, it takes absolutely no time to dry!

  32. 32
    June 6th, 2012 at 6:55 am

    I like to put matt over really bright colors like Bonsai (Rimmel) and hot pinks. It really brings out the color. For the dark ones though I still prefer the shiny finish.

  33. 33
    June 21st, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    I just got NYC’s Matte Me Crazy top coat for $0.97 at Walmart. It goes on smoothly and evenly, doesn’t chip easily when you wear it over a no-chip top coat (I use ORLY No Chip). I haven’t tried many other mattifying top coats, but at $0.97 a bottle and great results, I don’t think I have a reason to! I’ve always been afraid to wear black polish because I find the dark color + shine on my fingers to be too much, but I’m wearing matte black right now and loving it!

  34. 34
    July 2nd, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    where can u buy the essie matte top coat (other then amazon)?

  35. 35
    July 21st, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    I hope matte nail polish isn’t only a “trend”. I love it! I only wear matte nail polish now. Shiny nail polish seems so dated to me now….like when I first started painting my nails in 6th grade.

  36. 36
    July 30th, 2012 at 1:32 am

    I bought an NYC version of this matte top coat for $1.97 at Wal-Mart and it drys fast and doesn’t change the color at all. I’m completely happy with it. I used it on a bright yellow and the results are awesome!

  37. 37
    September 20th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I wear black with shine in it but want to find a good matte black paint for my nails (seems more manly to me lol) any ideas would be greatly accepted:)

  38. 38
    August 11th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Theres actually a new matte top coat out from NYC Colors (i have it) and its really cheap at Target, only $1 – $2! Im wearing it right now, and it really works. Ive been wearing it for about five to seven days and its still good! So yeah, i recommend the NYC Colors :)
    ? iris

  39. 39
    August 14th, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    This didn’t help me at all I simply asked how to MAKE the perfect matte nail polish

  40. 40
    August 14th, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Not everyone has the money or the time to buy matte nail polish

  41. 41
    September 22nd, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    I personally find that the matte topcoat over a fine glitter polish doesn’t look like it did anything, and over chunky glitter it just looks like you bought that cheap kind of glitter polish that turns out very rough. So I like it over glitterless polishes best. Other than the French thing I have yet to figure out what to do with it, but I love experimenting so we’ll see what I come up with!

  42. 42
    October 5th, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I find it really makes super bright colors better for the office

  43. 43
    August 4th, 2014 at 9:39 am

    The Sally Hansen ‘big matte top coat’ dries in seconds, is completely matte, and has never chipped for me. It actually makes my polish stay on longer than normal

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