Matte Nail Polish

Looking for something different or an edgy new look for your nails? Give your favorite glossy gel or lacquer polishes new life with a matte finish! You can even combine shiny and matte polishes for unique looks guaranteed to receive notice and stand out. Matte manicures been trending for about 10 years, but just a quick search for amazing nail art design ideas on Pinterest will convince you that this is still a popular option to add to your nail repertoire for special occasions.

So, what exactly is a matte finish and how do you achieve it? In very simplistic terms, matte nail polish is the absent of any shine (think flat paint) and there are special matte top coats available to dull the shine from regular shiny polish to create the look. Matte polishes do differ from regular polishes in several ways related to application and wear-ability. I have gleaned the most common questions asked from nail polish aficionados and reviewed YouTube videos to provide an overview to help you.

How can I get a matte finish?

There are basically 2 ways to create the Matte look. First, you can achieve the look by simply purchasing a polish that is specifically formulated as a matte finish that needs only 1-2 coats are a quick option. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Matte and Zoya MatteVelvet offer some beautiful options but the selections are limited. For more versatility, you can use a special matte top coat over all your favorite polish colors to create the look as well.

Can any gel or lacquer polishes be made matte?

Yes! Special matte top coat polishes can be applied to your natural nails or over your favorite base coat of color. Get creative ~ try it over glitter polish for an interesting look!

How do you apply gel matte polish?

  • Start with a clean nail bed to remove any oils.
  • Apply the base gel coat first followed by 2 layers of your favorite shiny color polish in thin layers; curing as usual and then the matte finish last.
  • Remember to cap the tips of your nails to extend the life of your manicure. 
  • Some polish brands offer No-Wipe feature after curing

How do you apply lacquer matte polish?

  • Start with a clean nail bed to remove any oils.
  • Apply polish in thin layers and let each layer fully dry before applying the next coat. Note that matte lacquer polish dries quickly, so it will be important to make sure each layer is dried thoroughly before applying the next layer. Remember that it takes up to 24 hours for lacquer polish to fully cure.
  • Cap the tips of your nails.

How long does it last?

  • Depending on the brand, matte manicures can tend to chip faster than regular manicures. Capping your nail tips will help. A common tip I have seen recommended is to apply a regular shiny top coat first over your color polish and then apply the matte top coat to help resist chipping. The cool thing is that a lacquer top coat will even work over gel polishes!  
  • Some matte finishes will begin to wear off within a couple days, resulting in a satin/velvet finish. I personally do not think this is a negative effect as I also like this look as well.
  • Avoid lotions, oils and cuticle creams that can interact with the matte finish.
  • When the life of the polish has reached its end, remove the same way you do for any polish.

Ready to go Flat and try Matte?? Here is a roundup of top-rated brands for you to consider. Have fun with this really cool look!!

Ready-to-go polishes

3.6 out of 5 stars 152 ratings (not all reviews were for Matte. However, I filtered the reviews to only the Matte colors listed)

Your favorite quick-dry Sally Hansen nail color is now available in 8 beautiful shades of Matte Metallic finish!

  • Gold Rush
  • Rose Flush
  • Burnished Wine
  • Violet Velvet
  • Blue Steel
  • Smoldering Teal
  • Smokey Silver
  • Molten Mauve (shown)

Product Features:

  • 3-in-1 formula with built-in base and top coat
  • Wide brush application
  • Dries in 60 Seconds
  • Extended wear and chip resistant
  • Unique velvety finish.


  • Dries quickly
  • Lasts for days
  • Beautiful colors


  • Some customers reported that the colors they received did not match color swatch.

Personal note:

I purchased this polish in the Molten Mauve color featured and I Love It!! I applied it in 2 thin layers and let each layer completely dry before applying the next and got full coverage. You cannot “play” with the polish when applying like you can with regular polish because it dries pretty quickly; within seconds you can see it starting to show the Matte finish – fun to watch! The wide brush applicator is perfect to help cover the nail with the least amounts of strokes possible for a smooth finish. On day 3 I only experienced normal tip wear that I usually get from lacquer polishes. I applied another thin coat and they looked like new again and lasted another 3 days. I will purchase again.

4 out of 5 stars 1,870 ratings (not all reviews were for Matte. However, I filtered the reviews to only the Matte colors listed)

Zoya MatteVelvet collection features 6 colors to choose from.

  • Amal MatteVelvet (Crimson Red) w/touch of sparkle/glitter
  • Aspen MatteVelvet (sparkling Artic White)
  • Iris MatteVelvet (shown – deep Amethyst)
  • Honor MatteVelvet (Emerald)
  • Sue MatteVelvet (soft Champagne Gold)
  • Yves MatteVelvet (deep Sapphire)

Product Features:

  • Big 10 Free breathable formula
  • Polish spreads quick, even, and leaves itself streak free


  • Great quality
  • Smooth, velvety finish.
  • Beautiful colors and coverage
  • Fast drying
  • Durable with little chipping


  • Some customers reported the color didn’t last long or not as expected

Best Gel Matte Top Coats

4.6 out of 5 stars 59 ratings

Kupa GelFinity Gel Matte Top Coat-Soak Off

Product features:

  • Matte finish that will not fade, chip or peel
  • 1/2oz. Bottle.
  • Cures to a no-wipe finish.   


  • Makes your polish super matte
  • Stays matte for a full week before needing a fresh coat
  • Long lasting
  • None of the reviews indicated that chipping was an issue


  • Some customers reported that this burns if it gets on skin when curing

4.5 out of 5 stars 73 ratings

AIMEILI Soak Off UV LED Gel Nail Polish – No Wipe Matte Top Coat

Product features:

  • Requires drying under UV or LED Lamp.
  • 21 days high-gloss wear.
  • On like polish, Wears like Gel, Off in minutes.
  • No Nicks, Chips or Smudges.
  • Goes on smooth, matte finish, no need to wipe the matte top coat.


  • There is no tacky layer; no need to wipe with alcohol!
  • Beautiful matte finish
  • Great quality for its price
  • Long lasting
  • Easy to apply


  • Needs two coats for matte effect
  • Burns while curing if it gets on your skin
  • Some report a finish that was more Satin than Matte

4.5 out of 5 stars 93 ratings

LAQUE’D by LAQUE Gel Matte Top Coat

Product features:

  • Matte Top Coat by Laque Nail Bar in Beverly Hills
  • Long Lasting Top Coat
  • Beautiful picture perfect finish
  • Apply Thin Coats
  • Wipe with alcohol after curing time to see beautiful matte nails


  • Great true Matte finish that does not fade to satin
  • Velvety texture
  • Streak free
  • Long lasting
  • Generous 0.5 FL bottle


  • Pricier than other brands
  • Some LED users report issues with product not curing and turning out patchy

Great Values! Check out these 3-Packs

Beetles Matte Top Coat

$11.99 for a set of 3

4.1 out of 5 stars 174 ratings

Beetles Matte Top Coat and High Gloss Top Gel Coat and Base Coat Set

Product features:

  • 3-Pack of No Wipe Matte, Glossy Top coat and Base coat.
  • 9 Toxin Free formula, easy and safe to apply.
  • Flexible gel top coat avoids nicks, chips or smudges.
  • High Compatibility with ALL BRANDS Soak-off Gel Nail Polish.
  • Long Lasting
  • 7.5ml Each Bottle


  • No wipe feature
  • Receive 3 bottles of top coat polishes
  • Matte polish looks great and has a smooth finish
  • Easy to apply
  • Long lasting finish with few reviews mentioning issues with chipping
  • Company guarantee a fast replacement or refund service if you experience issues with the polish.


  • Some customers reported product gets hot during curing

Modelones Matte Top Coat

$9.99 for a set of 3

4.1 out of 5 stars 115 ratings


Product features:

3 pack that includes:

  • Upgraded Base Coat
  • High gloss Shiny
  • Matte Effects
  • High compatibility with other polishes
  • Item is returnable (read full return policy)


  • Customers love the no wipe feature
  • Great Matte finish with a velvety feel
  • Long lasting; doesn’t leave white marks or chips (up to a week or so)
  • Application is easy and glides on smooth
  • Positive reviews for both base and shiny gloss polishes
  • Overall, most customers really liked the shape of the bottles


Some reported delivery issues; missing or broken items

Best Lacquer Matte Top Coats

3.5 out of 5 stars 24 ratings

ella+mila Nail Care, Matte Top Coat – Matte-ly in Lov

Product features:

  • Matte-ly in Love
  • Products do not contain: Formaldehyde, Toluene, DiButyl Phthalate (DBP)
  • Vegan & Animal cruelty-free
  • Made in the USA
  • ella+mila polishes are certified by PETA!


  • Customers appreciate that it is 7-Free
  • Dries fast with no streaking  
  • Lasts a long time without chipping


  • Very small brush
  • Most negative reviews were from customers that did not like the matte finish look

Personal Note:

I decided to purchase this top coat, but have not yet tried it. I will update post once I have used it.

4.4 out of 5 stars  1,151 ratings (not all reviews were for Matte. However, I filtered the reviews to only the Matte top coat)

Sally Hansen Treatment Big Matte Top Coat

Product features:

  •     Extreme matte finish
  •     Enhances and protects your manicure
  •     Quick-drying


  • Inexpensive way to try a Matte finish
  • Smooth, consistent matte finish
  • Easy to apply


  • Matte finish lasts several days then fades to satin look
  • Takes longer to fully dry than stated
  • Finish chipped after several days
  • Leaves white looking streaks on your nails

4.2 out of 5 stars 1,074ratings (not all reviews were for Matte. However, I filtered the reviews to only the Matte top coat)

OPI Nail Lacquer Matte Top Coat

Product features:

  • Smooth, matte finish
  • Seals in the color to prevent scratches and chipping
  • Provides up to 7 days of wear
  • Prevents smudges


  • Can be applied on top of gel manicures after curing
  • Great matte effect
  • Easy to apply
  • Dries fast
  • Lasts long


  • Top coat doesn’t help the polish last longer
  • If applied to thickly, it will pull off some of the color coat
  • Best used on darker shades of polish

3.7 out of 5 stars 233 ratings

China Glaze Matte Magic Top Coat

Product features:

  •    Turn’s Any China Glaze Nail Polish From Shiny To Matte
  •    Professional 440-Strand Brush For Ease Of Application
  •    Free Of Dbp, Toluene And Added Formaldehyde


  • One coat coverage
  • Smooth application
  • Matte effect stays on for about 3-4 days


  •  Strong smell and polish is not clear
  •  Small bottle (.325 fl oz)

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