Burning Beaut.ie Questions: Why Does Seche Vite Shrink?

I’ve mentioned a time or fifty that Seche Vite is my Ultimate Favourite Top Coat Of All Time 4EVA. However, I’ve noticed that some of you are having issues with wear in general and shrinkage in particular while using it, so here’s the lowdown on why Seche Vite may not be performing as you might expect on your nails.

What’s shrinkage when it’s at home?
Some users find that Seche Vite contracts as it dries, causing the nail varnish underneath it to pull away from tips, cuticles, and the nail edge. The effect is usually most pronounced along the free edge where this tip pull looks like tip wear, making even a freshly applied varnish appear worn and shabby.

Why does it happen?
There are a couple of reasons but first off, you need to understand how Seche Vite works. It penetrates through the layers of nail colour, all the way down to the base coat, to effectively cure everything beneath it and form a single, durable coating over the nail.

Now, Seche Vite is not 3-Free. 3-Free is the term for nail varnishes which contain no formaldehyde, DBP (stands for dibutyl phthalate, fact fanz), or toluene. We might talk more about the Big 3 and this 3-Free business at a later date.

Now, while Seche Vite doesn’t contain formaldehyde or DBP, you will find toulene on the ingredients list. The upshot of this is that it may not play nice with nail varnishes that are themselves 3-Free, as it may not be compatible with the solvents and plasticisers used in them,  so you’ll probably find it wears better with older polishes than new, reformulated ones.


Your chosen nail colour may now be 3-Free even though it doesn’t heavily promote its no DBP/formaldehyde/toluene credentials in the same way that a brand like Butter London do. And it’s not just your fancier brands along the lines of OPI or Essie whose latest formulations are 3-Free: Avon, Rimmel, and Revlon all offer nail varnishes that don’t contain the triumvirate.

Another factor is the pigmentation of your nail varnish. If it’s particularly densely pigmented, Seche Vite can have a tough time penetrating it to dry all the layers, and may harden before the colour is completely dried. If solvent from the colour evaporates more slowly than  Seche Vite, shrinkage may occur as the different layers of nail varnish contract.

How can I prevent it?
Make sure that you only use Seche Vite on wet nail varnish. If you like to reapply topcoat a couple of days into a manicure to extend its life, you’ll need to use an alternative product or you’re just asking for shrinkage.

When painting your nails, wrap the colour around your tips, and as you’re applying Seche Vite swipe it over the free edge of the nails and tuck it underneath them if you’ve sufficient length to do so. This does away with all tip pull issues for me completely, regardless of what nail varnish I use it with, and I'm careful to take it over the edge of the colour at the edges and base of my nails too to prevent shrinkage.

Eeek! HUGE apologies are due to Jen over at The Nail Ninja. She should have been duly credited in this post as the source of the very cool theory about how pigmentation levels in nail varnish may affect Seche Vite's performance.


Absolutely my bad, and I'm more than happy to clarify things. And to say sorry, Jen.

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