e.l.f. vs. Wet n Wild: Matte Polish Comparison {Review}

I was super disappointed when I tried the e.l.f. Essential Matte Polish last year. No matter how many coats I tried or what polish I used, I always ended up with a crackled mattefinish.

So when I discovered that Wet n Wild was coming out with their own version of a matte topcoat, I was immediately intrigued—though also worried. Would it succumb to the problems the e.l.f. polish had? Or would I at last find a budget matte polish? I figured for a buck it was a very low risk to try, although being a dollar less than the e.l.f. version seemed an indication that it wouldn’t work.

Does the Wet n Wild Wild Shine Matte Topcoat succeed where e.l.f. failed?


Individual Products

e.l.f. Essential Matte Finisher and Wet n Wild Wild Shine Matte Top Coat


e.l.f. Essential Matte Finisher

Rating: F
Price Tag: $2 USD
Shades Available: 1 shade
Weight: 0.34 fl oz

This is one of the most disappointing e.l.f. product I have ever purchased simply because it doesn’t work. I think it may have worked at one point in time as many of the early reviews are positive.

I don’t understand how e.l.f. can continue to sell this product fully knowing the problems with it. One look at the reviews on the e.l.f. website itself immediately reveals a widespread issue.


The Matte Finisher comes in the standard e.l.f. nail polish packaging: a rectangular glass bottle with a shiny black, plastic lid. The bristles are nothing special. They do the job, but that’s it.


The Matte Finisher applies transparent and turns matte as it dries. It does mattify the base polish as it dries, though it also crackles all of the layers. Clearly, this formula is related to that horrid crackle formula that was all the rage a short time back. Interestingly, e.l.f. never produced a crackle polish, even though they clearly had the formula for it.

I have tried creme polishes and glitter polishes as base coats. One coat of base color and two or three coats of base color. One coat of the Matte topcoat and two coats of it. Thick coats and thin. At this point, I’m convinced it’s just broken.

I have considered buying another bottle, but I really don’t want to be duped into buying a second defective polish.

Wet n Wild Wild Shine Matte Top Coat

Rating: A
Price Tag: $0.99 USD
Shades Available: 1 shade
Weight: 0.43 fl oz
Where to Buy: Drugstores like Walgreens and CVS

I’m so glad I held off on buying the China Glaze matte topcoat I found at Ulta during the holidays. I would have kicked myself knowing that I could have bought a matte polish for a buck.

It’s interesting to consider that Wet n Wild could have easily released this as a MegaLast polish and charged twice as much. It still would have been a steal.


The Matte Top Coat is housed in the traditional, no-nonsense glass bottle of the Wild Shine Line. I’m not a huge fan; I definitely prefer everything about the MegaLast polishes to them.


The Matte Top Coat does exactly what it promises: it takes your existing polish and mattifies it. Seems straight forward and simple, until you realize what a disaster the e.l.f. version is.

The polish works over every type of nail polish I’ve tried with zero hiccups.

The Comparison

I’m sure you want to see it action, so I bared my soul and actually took a few pictures of my fingers. I don’t normally take polish swatches because my hands are wrecked by doing housework, and winter dryness certainly doesn’t help.

I didn’t realize how bad my hands looked until after I had taken the photos, but I managed to fix up one of the photos so that they’re not a complete embarrassment. It was a lot of work so I only did one photo. I did have other photos of the Wet n Wild Matte Topcoat over glitter polishes, including Color Club Snow Flakes over LVX Prussian, but I couldn’t salvage it.

And here are the results. Thumb is the base color without topcoat for reference.

e.l.f. Essential Matte Finisher and Wet n Wild Wild Shine Matte Top Coat over LVX Prussian


I have one layer of each topcoat over two layers of LVX Prussian. You can clearly see how effective the Wet n Wild Wild Shine Matte Topcoat is over the base polish.

I will point out that the Wet n Wild version is half the price yet contains more product.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, Wet n Wild is the clear winner and I fully recommend it. It works, has more product than the e.l.f. version, is cruelty-free and vegan, and it’s an absolute steal at $0.99.

As for e.l.f., I recommend not buying their Matte Finisher. At this point there is ample evidence that the product generally doesn’t work. Hopefully not buying the polish will encourage e.l.f. to revisit the formula.

Thanks for reading!