Top Coats: Dior Gel Top Coat vs. Chanel Laque Brilliance Extreme

May 20, 2013

We’ve seen a wave of new nail lacquers and top coats flood the market recently. Brands claim to have developed a formula that will replicate the lush cushy high-shine finish and lasting power that gel manicures provide. I decided to try one, Dior’s Gel Top Coat and put it to the test to see how it compared to one of my favorites, Chanel’s Laque Brilliance Extreme. Since reviews from others have been mixed, I did three sets of testing over nail polish brands I wear most frequently: Dior, Chanel and Rescue Beauty Lounge (see my standard nail basics here).
Packaging: Both Dior and Chanel come with pull off caps, the Dior Gel Top Coat comes in a clear bottle while the Chanel Extreme Shine Nail Lacquer comes encased in a black bottle. Both are very sturdy. Dior’s comes with a slightly wider flat brush while Chanel’s is skinnier (see below).
Price: Dior’s Gel Top Coat retails at $24 for 0.33 fl oz (previously featured here). Chanel’s Laque Brilliance Extreme retails at $26 for .4 fl oz.
Formula, application and dry time: Dior’s Gel Top Coat is thicker than most other top coat’s I’ve tried. It does dry to a nice hard finish and doesn’t shrink around the edges (like Seche Vite does for me). I do recommend you allowing your two coats of color to dry about 2-5 minutes before applying the Gel Coat. I usually let nails dry for 10-15 minutes after the top coat. Dior’s Gel dried perfectly fine within this time. Chanel’s Top Coat is thinner in texture making it easier to spread evenly over any other brand. Dry time is at least 15 minutes for me.
Finish: The finish of Dior’s Gel Top coat is the glossiest I’ve seen. It has a lush cushiony looking finish with a high shine. Chanel’s Top coat has a gorgeous glossy sheen but is not quite as shiny as Dior’s.
Lasting power and performance: Performance of each top coat depends on what nail lacquer you’re using for color. Unfortunately I can’t say one is the best all around. Scroll down for notes below based on each test set.

Test Set No. 1: Over Dior Spring Ball

I tested both top coats at the same time, Dior’s Gel Top Coat on the left hand and Chanel’s Top Coat on the right hand. The verdict:

  • Dior Gel over Dior Spring Ball lasted 6 full days without any chipping and very minimal tip wear. I’ve never had a manicure last this long without tip wear (same performance over Dior Diablotine). The way the nails looked on Day 4 with tip wear on only one finger lasted until Day 6. By Day 7 tips started to wear noticeably on most of the fingers.
  • Chanel Top Coat over Dior Spring Ball didn’t last quite as long. Tip wear started on Day 3 with noticeable on most fingers by Day 4. Click the photo below to enlarge.

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Test Set No. 2: Over Chanel Tentation
Same testing as set one,  both top coats worn simultaneously, Dior’s Gel Top Coat on the left hand and Chanel’s Top Coat on the right hand. How each held up over Chanel (this was also tested over Chanel Taboo):
  • Dior Gel over Chanel Tentation applied smoothly and gave a high gloss finish. Shine and coverage lasted until Day 3 when the polish started to crack. On Day 4 the cracks showed up on all nails and started to chip. Tip wear also occured. Not sure the cracks are visible in the photo below, but it was more visible over darker colors like Chanel Taboo. 
  • Chanel Top Coat over Chanel Tentation is typical Chanel Top Coat perfection lasting well into Day 6 without any tip wear. Click below to enlarge.
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Test Set No. 3: Over Rescue Beauty Lounge Poppy
Same process, Dior’s Gel Top
Coat on the left hand and Chanel’s Top Coat on the right hand. How each
held up over Rescue Beauty Lounge:
  • Dior Gel over Rescue Beauty Lounge Poppy lasted quite well on most fingers. On Day 3, tip wear started to show only on the middle finger, although those nails were slightly longer than the others so it may have been in contact with surfaces more frequently than the others. Still, tip wear was minimal and didn’t increase other than what is shown below until Day 5. There was no cracking on the nail.
  • Chanel Top Coat over Rescue Beauty Lounge Poppy lasted extremely well. There was minimal tip wear (very very slight) on the corner of the middle nail, but the manicure is still as fresh as it was on the first day as on Day 5.
Overall thoughts: I really like both, but my preference depends what nail polish I use underneath. I was particularly impressed at how long my Dior over Dior manicures lasted. However Chanel is more versatile and easier to apply over most other brands.
Dior’s Gel Top coat worked best over Dior nail polishes. I did find it cracked over Chanel and OPI (not featured, but tested and it cracked over OPI on Day 3). Available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Neiman Marcus.
Chanel’s Top Coat performs best over most brands for me. It didn’t work quite as well over Dior with just one application (however manicures can be extended if you re-apply the top coat on the second day). The benefit of this one is that a bottle lasts a long time and it’s not limited. Find it at all Chanel counters and beauty studios and online at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Chanel.com and other Chanel retailers.
Did you try Dior’s Gel Top Coat? Or any of the other gels from Deborah Lippmann, Guerlain etc? What were your thoughts? What’s your favorite top coat?

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