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I tried a $7 at-home gel manicure topcoat — here's what happened

Can a manicure really be chip-free? I found out.
by Bryanna Cappadona / / Source: TODAY

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Ah, gel manicures — both a bane and blessing.

It all traces back to a flaw in my being: I simply cannot function as a person in society unless my nails are painted. And gel manicures have historically served as my savior. The shellac is so durable that it can basically withstand a war zone, leaving my fingers primped, pretty and chip-free for 10 to 14 consecutive days.

Of course, gel manicures have glaring cons. As durable as the shellac is, it also wears my nails down to flimsy nothingness in the removal process, so I'm left with no other choice but to go back for another gel manicure. It's an expensive, vicious circle that has made me a prisoner of my own manicurist.

Seche Vive Gelt Effect topcoat is my secret to a long-lasting manicure
On the left is day one using Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat. On the right is day eight — and my manicure is almost chip-free!Courtesy of Bryanna Cappadona

But not anymore!

Behold Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat, my new secret to pulling off a glossy manicure with the same chip-free, strong finish of gel.

Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat, $7, Walmart

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Also available for $7 at Amazon (where it has more than 5,000 reviews).

I first stumbled upon the little blue bottle at Christmas Tree Shops (shout out to New England's best bargain store). A friend once recommended a different top coat in the Seche line for its lasting effects, but the gel effect one piqued my interest because, well, I wanted a gel effect.

Since making this purchase, I can confidently vow I will never turn back. It's a transparent polish, so you can use it with any color — or brand — underneath. The top coat also dries within minutes, so, like gel manicures, you can be on your merry way without any worries of smudging.

The best part? My manicure can last a full seven to nine days without any chips. Every. time.

The second best part? This stuff is incredibly cheap. (It's $7 on Amazon!) I've saved so much money doing at-home manicures from my couch. (If you're apprehensive about painting your own nails and need some tips, we've got you covered.)

So now, a profession: I, an erstwhile gel manicure addict, have found solace in a budget topcoat.

Seche Vive Gel Effect Top Coat, $7, Walmart

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