Top Coat Showdown – Dry Time

I’m a member of a few different Facebook groups for polish lovers. Frequently, people will ask what the favorite top coats are. There are a few names that always come up: Seche Vite, Out the Door, and HK Girl. Each of these top coats has a cult following. I used to use Seche Vite (pronounced “Sesh Veet”) and switched to HK Girl. I have never tried Out the Door. While I was shopping at Costco this morning, I realized I had never seen a side-by-side comparison of these top coats. I’m sure it exists lots of places, but I decided that readers of Betty’s Beauty Bombs should have this comparison right at their fingertips. So, after Costco, I hurried over to Sally Beauty Supply to get Seche Vite and Out the Door. I already have many, many bottles of HK Girl. I added into the showdown Sally Hansen’s Big Shiny Top Coat because I already owned it and who knows…maybe it’ll beat out the others! :)

I used OPI Nail Envy Original Formula as a base for all the nails. I used Color Club Over the Moon as the polish because some top coats will dull holo polishes. Over the Moon is a gorgeous holo so I wanted to see if any of these dulled it.

First, let’s take a look at what the manufacturer’s claims are on each bottle as well as common complaints.

Seche Vite


    • Made in USA
    • Has long lasting effect
    • Provides silky look and high gloss
    • A top coat that is a must for oily nails or nails that tend to chip easily
    • Seche Vite™ dry fast top coat is widely acknowledged as the world’s finest top coat. Specially formulated to penetrate through nail lacquer to the base coat forming a single solid coating over the nail plate for a much more durable finish. Guaranteed not to yellow while leaving nails silky, stronger and resistant to chipping and peeling.


Common complaints: Shrinkage (where the polish pulls away from the edges of the nail, leaving bare nail. This typically happens at the tip), gets too thick for use about halfway through the bottle

Out the Door


  • America’s no.1 super drying top coat
  • Long wearing, high gloss finish will not yellow
  • Use alone or over any polish to accelerate the drying time
  • The Symbol for Nail Professionals
  • Dries in 45 seconds
  • Seals and protects polish, natural, or artificial nails
  • Apply and go!

Common complaints: I actually haven’t heard of any

HK Girl


  • •Intense shine – crystal clear formula that applies smoothly, leaving a glass like appearance
  • Fast drying – approx 1-2 minutes often less and your nails will be dry, as time passes it will dry more within 5 minutes or so it’s rock hard!
  • Durable, long lasting nature – customers boast that manicures last 5-7 days with little to no tip wear or chips.
  • Holographic polishes love it! – Holos will not dull, in fact they are even intensified
  • Smoothes and seals glitter polishes – 1-2 coats and glitters are tamed/smooth and without jagged edges sticking up.
  • Adds extra shine to all nail lacquer – it can make a matte polish or a textured polish shiny. Cremes, jellies, crellies, shimmers, metallics etc are all left with that glossy glass like shine
  • No Shrinkage! – G & G HK Girl top coat doesn’t cause any shrinkage
  • Can be used with nail lacquer that is tacky or dry
  • Even consistency throughout the whole bottle – no extra thickness or gloppyness
  • Nail Art/Nail Stamping friendly – once nail art/stamping is nearly dry it won’t smear or smudge

Common complaints: Only available at or

Sally Hansen Big Shiny Top Coat


  • Gives nails a brilliant, high gloss finish
  • Dries in seconds
  • Applies smoothly and evenly
  • UV filters protect nail color from fading
  • A mani must-have for nail lovers.
  • Enhance, compliment and protect your favorite nail creations.
  • The quick-drying top coat is fortified with an Acrylic Polymer Complex that resists chipping and gives your manicure a long lasting, high gloss finish.
  • The specifically designed formula applies evenly and preserves the look and texture of nail color and nail art.

Common complaints: I haven’t heard any because this is not one of the most recommended top coats amongst bloggers and polish fanatics.

So let’s see how these four guys stack up. I took a picture of the time at each stage to prove how long it had been. I poked the polish with an orangewood stick at each timestamp.



Orangewood stick

Here’s a pic of Color Club Over the Moon before I started poking it.
From left to right: Sally Hansen Big Shiny Top Coat (Pointer), HK Girl (ring), Out the Door (Middle), and Seche Vite (Pinkie)


Each top coat claims it dries in seconds or minutes. So let’s see what happened when I poked after one minute.

Time 2

ALL of the polishes dented. Therefore, I have to state that any claims of drying in less than 60 seconds is false.




One Minute

So let’s give it a few more minutes…


All of the polishes are still easily denting. It has been three minutes since application.

1129 polish

A few more minutes…


Here is where I start to see a difference. Sally Hansen on the pointer, far left, is still easily dented. The other three are slightly harder to dent, but are still dentable. This is 7 minutes after initial application. You are looking at the second dent from the bottom at this time.

1133 polish


More time passes….


Now we’re starting to see more difference. Seche Vite on my pinkie, far right, is hardly noticeable with its dent. It is clearly drying fastest. At this time, Out the Door (ring finger, second from the right) and Hk Girl (middle finger, second from the left) are about the same. There is a noticeable dent and it took the same amount of pressure. Sally Hansen is still the easiest to dent (pointer, far left). At this time, I would feel safe stamping or moving on with other nail art. While I  can still dent the polishes, they are pretty dry to the touch and it would be unlikely you’d ruin anything by doing nail art.

1136 polish

Time goes by…so slowly…so slowly…


Seche Vite on the far right is clearly winning the dry-off. It is practically cured all the way through. 15 minute has passed. HK and OTD are still slightly dentable and they are still neck in neck. SH is no longer a contender. It’s still easy to dent.

1141 polish

The finals…


I was unable to dent SV at all. I could slightly dent OTD and HK, but I had to try pretty hard. SH was still easy to dent.

last polish

As far as dry time goes, Seche Vite is the winner by far. It dried much faster than the others. However, I am not convinced this is worth the shrinkage experienced.

I also wanted to see if any of these would drag stamping. None of them do. There is smudging on my pinkie and ring finger, but I smudged it upon stamping, not upon top coating. I used Vivid Lacquer Plate VL027 and Bundle Monster Stamping Polish #24 for this design.


I removed this mani about 23 hours later. I had not yet seen any chips on any nails.

I hope this dry time review was helpful for you! If it was, please let me know and I can do wearability, nail art, glitter top coat eaters, etc. showdowns!

Author: Anne

Blogging about makeup, dogs, and mostly NAIL POLISH!