Life Hack No. 3: Hello, Seche Vite Top Coat, and Goodbye, Smudged Nail Polish!

In this Life Hack No. 3, I am telling you about a quick-dry top coat called Seche Vite, so this hack is really for people who:

  • wear nail polish
  • haven’t switched over to gel manicures
  • are fed-up with smudging their freshly painted nails
  • don’t have 20+ minutes to wait for their polish to dry
  • don’t already know about the amazing quick-dry top coat Seche Vite
  • or, if none of the above apply, simply enjoy reading about things that are of no practical use to them

Seche Vite (approx. $10 online and at most chain drugstores) is a quick-dry top coat that really is quick-drying. I discovered this top coat when I was getting regular manicures while living in Boston, and now, whether I am getting my nails done at a salon, or I am doing them myself, I will never use another top coat.  I remember when it was first used on my nails, I couldn’t believe it when one (ONE!) minute after it was applied, I could touch the nail without it smudging. It takes longer for the polish to be completely dry (dent-proof), but this stuff really works. It’s been around forever, which is why I assume everyone who wears polish on a regular basis probably knows about it, but as we’ve learned from past posts, not everyone does know, therefore Life Hack No. 3. 😉

When I first moved from Boston back to California, I kept ending up at nail salons that didn’t use Seche Vite, or that charged a $1 extra for it vs. their regular cheap top coat. It was totally worth the extra $1, but I finally just bought my own bottle to bring with me because I didn’t want to take a chance that they wouldn’t have it as an add-on. Now it seems like every salon I go to uses it, but the benefit of having a bottle of my own is that it is easier for me to do my own nails (or fix a chip) whenever I want.

Here are the basics of how to use it: 

  •  Apply a base coat
  •  Apply 1-2 coats of regular polish
  •  In this next step, there are two options.
    • Option 1: Immediately (while the regular polish is still wet) apply a (thick) coat of the Seche Vite. When doing this step, supposedly you use a fairly full brush of Seche Vite and apply it without letting the brush touch the nail. That is, the Seche Vite forms a kind of barrier between the brush and the regular polish as it is being applied. This is important because it keeps the regular polish from contaminating the Seche Vite, which apparently, is bad… though I’ve never noticed because I do…
    • Option 2: wait 1-2 minutes for the regular polish to dry a little bit and then paint the Seche Vite on top without worrying about the brush touching the regular polish. This method always has worked perfectly well for me. The thing to note is that whether you apply the Seche Vite while the regular polish is wet or dry, you are going to apply a pretty thick coat (I think “glob”is the technical term) of the Seche Vite.
  • Wait 1-5 minutes, and it will be dry to the touch. In about 20 minutes it should be smudge-proof, but depending on the humidity and other variables, it can take up to an hour for it to completely cure meaning you may get dents or crinkles if you apply a lot of pressure to the surface of the polish. Suffice it to say, it is going to be a lot faster than a regular top coat and faster than many (maybe even all?) other quick-dry top coats.

Bonus Life Hack Material! Here are some tips for getting good DIY manicure results:

  • This might be the best tip I’ve ever learned: Do a “dry manicure.” This means not painting your nails until at least an hour after having soaked them. This may prevent the polish from chipping as quickly, and also may prevent your nails from splitting.*
  • Make sure your nails are free of any oil or lotion by wiping each nail with rubbing alcohol before painting the nail.
  • When you paint the nail with each coat of paint, paint the nail tip’s edge. This keeps the polish from exposing the tip’s edge when the polish contracts during the drying process.
  • Paint a second coat of top coat 24 hours after you have painted your nails for one more layer of protection.

In case you care: Seche is pronounced “Se-Shay.”

FYI, Seche Vite comes with the following Safety Warnings:

  • Flammable: do not use near heat or flame.
  • Keep out of reach of children.
  • Warning! This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.

* Dry vs. wet manicures: The drawback with a wet manicure is that polish dries so much more quickly than a nail (that is wet from soaking) dries. As the nail dries, it pulls away from the already-dry polish, resulting in greater likelihood of chipping. Some nail professionals say that it can take as much as 24 hours for a soaked nail to completely dry. For this reason, the longer you wait to paint your nails after soaking, the better. This supports my theory of why the polish jobs I do myself always last longer than those from a nail salon, which are usually “wet manicures” where they soak nails to soften the cuticles.

Seche Vite, Quick-dry Top Coat, Quick-dry nail polish,
That is my hand in this photo above, and, yes, I painted my own nails.

About The Author

Anne Stericker

City-dweller, designer, writer and lifestyle consultant practicing the art of living well in the 21st Century. Fixated with good coffee, great design, and any little thing that makes life better.

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