November 16, 2014

Matte Topcoats: OPI vs Zoya

First off, just a heads up: this is going to be a long post, and VERY photo-heavy.  Bear with me!

Recently, Zoya offered their Matte Velvet top coat for free with any purchase.  Being the frugal nail blogger that I am, I opted to buy just one polish (Zuza - a beautiful mermaid-turquoise that I will swatch eventually).  Although I already had a matte top coat, I wanted to get Zoya's because I haven't been very happy with the one I have.

So, naturally, as a nail blogger with two of basically the same polish but by different brands, the only thing I could do is a comparison.

In this comparison, I look at three different factors: Application (does it smear?), Dry Time (which is faster?), and Wear (does it crack or chip easily? does it allow edge shrinkage?).

I decided that the best way to test smearing upon application would be by doing a variety of nail art designs: stripes, dots, a gradient, and Crackle.  I figured that a white background would show the most smearing.

This nail art is ah... well, horizontal stripes aren't my strong point, as you'll see on my thumbs.  This really wasn't meant to look like super good nail art; I simply wanted to show a good variety of colors and designs.  I chose dark colors for the horizontal stripes and the dots, since I figured those were most likely to smear.  And the gradient, well, I missed the candy corn day of the LPLGlamghouls Halloween challenge, but I'd really been looking forward to it!

OPI's Matte top coat is on my left hand, and Zoya's is on my right.  Bear in mind that I'm right-handed, which means the nails on my right hand take more of a beating in my day-to-day activities.  Both hands have the same base coat: ORLY Bonder.

For reference: Day One was Wednesday, Day Two Thursday, and Day Three Friday (Halloween (yeah, this post has been sitting around for a while)).

Day One: Application 

For both of these, I sat back and let my nails dry for at least ten minutes before applying two coats of top coat. I also wrapped my tips, both with the base color and with the top coats. 


OPI's Matte is rather thick.  Not un-spreadably thick, and not problematically thick - just thick.

I barely wiped off any excess polish, to prevent the bristles of the brush from smearing my designs.  This is a trick I learned a while ago.  It worked on my four fingers, but on my thumb I still got a liiiittle bit of smearing.

This wasn't really a surprise, since black almost always smears no matter what you do.  However, the smearing wasn't so bad that I had to clean off the top coat brush.

OPI Application rating: 8/10


The formula for Zoya's Matte Velvet is much thinner than OPI's.  Not too thin.  It's about on par with INM's Out The Door top coat, which is what I'm most used to.  I wiped off some excess polish and was still able to keep the bristles from smearing directly against my designs.

It did smear a tiny bit on one of the dotted flowers, and a little bit on my thumb as well - but again, the smearing was not so bad that I had to clean off the brush.  There is a bit of a smear on my pointer finger, but that's because I smooshed the yellow stripe before it dried - not the top coat's fault.

And the ding on my thumb is more user error - I dinged that as I was setting up my camera and lighting.  I need to be more patient with that....

Zoya Application rating: 9/10

Day One: After Cooking

My timing when I paint my nails is often pretty bad, and I end up having to cook dinner less than an hour after I finish painting.  This day was no different; even though I painted much earlier in the day, I had to prep a slow cooker recipe almost immediately after taking the initial pictures.  I decided to show you how the top coats held up after cooking.  (This recipe was simple; all I did was trim the meat and pour some sauces over it in the slow cooker.)


My left hand held up pretty well, though the knife did slip and chip in to my middle finger nail a tiny bit.

That counts as user error; I'm sure that would have chipped no matter what top coat I was wearing.


OPI Dry Time rating: 10/10


I didn't notice anything while I was prepping, but when I went back to my room I noticed a terrible wrinkle on my middle finger.  I would guess this happened while I was holding the knife; I tend to put a lot of pressure on my middle finger when cutting.

After noticing that wrinkle, I poked a little at my other nails and found that they were still slightly damp as well.  In future, perhaps I'll use a thin coat of Out The Door before using this top coat.

I also noticed some slight edge shrinkage on my pointer finger, and I dinged the tip of my thumb on something-or-other.

Zoya Dry Time rating: 5/10

Day Two: After Showering and Sleeping

After I cooked on Wednesday, I didn't do much with my hands all day and I didn't notice myself slamming any fingers particularly hard against any surfaces.  I showered before bed, and the next pictures were taken not long after I got up on Thursday.


A HUGE crack appeared over night on my pointer finger, as well as some edge shrinkage.

This wasn't surprising based on my experience with this top coat in the past.

There was a little bit more edge shrinkage on my middle finger, and a small spot of shrinkage appeared on my ring finger.

OPI Initial Wear rating: 5/10


A thin crack appeared on my pointer finger, but I actually didn't see it until I looked at the pictures on my computer.  The cracks were so fine that my eyes didn't really pick up on them at this point.


There was little change otherwise, even on the wrinkled-polish nail.

Zoya Initial Wear rating: 9/10

Day Three: After another Shower and more Sleeping

Admittedly, I did not do very much at all on Thursday.  I wasn't feeling well all day, so I didn't go out at all, and I didn't exercise either.  I would have liked to keep wearing these top coats for at least another day, but as Day Three was Halloween, I needed to re-do my nails to match my costume!  These photos were taken after eating breakfast and right before I removed this polish.


Another large crack appeared on my pointer finger.

A slight crack also appeared on my middle finger.   

Edge shrinkage worsened noticeably on all fingers except my pinky and thumb.  (In fact, there was very little change in either of my thumbs at all - and since this post is already so long, I decided not to bother showing my thumbs.)

OPI Overall Wear rating: 4/10


The cracks on my pointer finger worsened to the point that I could see them with my naked eye, but they were still nowhere near as deep as the ones on my left hand.  This says a lot about the top coat, as I use my right hand more frequently.

There was little to no edge shrinkage on any other finger, and I also didn't notice any cracks on other fingers.

Zoya Overall Wear rating: 9/10

To Summarize

OPI Combined score: 27/40 (D+)
Zoya Combined score: 32/40 (B-) 

While OPI's Matte Top Coat dries faster, the quality of the manicure diminishes greatly as time goes on.  Not only does cracking look bad, it's also bad for your nails as the crack can potentially damage the top few layers of your actual nail.  I would much rather sacrifice dry time for a good, lasting manicure.  It looks like from now on, I'll be using Zoya's Matte Velvet Top Coat!

What's your matte top coat of choice?  Have you had a different experience with either of these two?  Have you found a matte top coat that would get a B+ or better?  Let me know in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the comparison, I thought I was doing something wrong with my OPI Matte.