Monday, June 18, 2012

Review: China Glaze Fast Forward Top Coat

I have wanted to do a top coat post for a while and I have a draft that has been sitting around for the longest time. I didn't post it because it is verbose, and I wasn't sure how to best organize and present the information. Nevertheless, I finally decided to present one top coat at a time, in digestible chunks.

Let me start by stating my requirements of a good top coat; it must be quick drying, least toxic as humanly possible (free of DBP, Toulene and added Formaldehyde), adds noticeable shine, durability, be a good smudge fixer and leveler. 

Side note: If I come across a slow drying top coat, defined by me as taking longer than 2 minutes to dry to touch, I will use it to remove glitter polishes. That's right, I have two methods for removing glitter polishes and using clear polish or slow drying top coats is one of them. Just slap some top coat on top of old glitter, wrap a piece of cotton soaked with acetone polish remover around your finger, wait a few seconds and swipe. Works like a charm. The top coat will soften the old polish, making it easier to remove.

I am on my fourth bottle of China Glaze's Fast Forward (ChG FF) top coat so this should be a fair review. The China Glaze website, says it penetrates and drys all layers of polish in 60 seconds. Sometimes it does dry that fast, I think it depends on the humidity of the environment you are working in as well. 


  • Quick drying: 1-2 minutes dry to touch, 5 minutes go about your business.
  • Good smudge fixer.
  • Superior leveler, by that I mean, I love it for glitters, it delivers a smooth finish.  Very close if not equal to Seche Vite.
  • Easy to find, Sally's $5-6, nail suppliers, $3.
  • Big 3 free, (free of DBP, Toulene and added Formaldehyde).


  • Sometimes can causes serious shrinkage, especially with jellies.
  • Gets too thick halfway through the bottle. How do I deal with this? I use one bottle until it is half way done, set it aside. Start using another fresh bottle until it too, is halfway empty. So now I have two used half bottles. I add nail polish thinner to both half bottles.  Finally, I combine the two bottles to make a full bottle and finish that off; OR toss it if I'm tired of it and I want a fresh bottle.
  • Smells strong and toxic, not as bad as Seche Vite, but it's not good.

One example of shrinkage.  ChG FF top coat here. 
I must have applied ChG FF a little more thinly here, and the shrinkage shows up only after drying.
What to do about shrinkage?  The remedy for this is to apply a super thick coat, to every nail, every stroke, everytime AND wrap the the tips of the nail. By not wrapping the tips, shrinkage looks like tip wear but you will see it appear on all nails at the same rate.  Genuine tip wear appears only on certain nails first, then eventually to all nails.  For me, my index fingers wear down first, then my thumbs.  Lastly, shrinkage will occur more readily if the top coat becomes too thick. 

I don't have a favorite top coat.  There is no be-all-of-end-all top coats, to me. My theory is that one size does not fit all, and that is how I feel about top coats. I use different top coats for different polishes. I wonder if nail polish manufactures formulate top coats especially for their polishes so, sometimes I will match brand to brand.

When do I decide to use China Glaze FF top coat?
  • To seal over a glitter polish, nail art or nail accoutrements.
  •  Over any China Glaze cream polish.
  • As an attempt to fix any smudges.
Before I finish, China Glaze and Seche Vite are made by the same company, American International Industries.  ChG FF top coat and Seche Vite are very similiar, I do like them both except Seche Vite has toulene in it.  I'm still working with Seche Vite and will do a review on that soon.

Thoughts, comments?  Please share!


  1. I really appreciate the comprehensive review! I've been using Seche Vite for months and don't mind the smell, but I could stand to find a couple of other good ones to fold into the rotation and not be using toulene every time I do my nails.

  2. great review! i'm currently switching up between seche vite and nyc grand central station cause they work good enough for me :D