Finding a base coat nail polish that gives you the results you want can be a little tricky especially for newbies. Find out what it is, its purpose, how to use, best base coat brand reviews and alternatives.
What is a Base Coat Nail Polish?
A base coat nail polish, as its name suggests a clear/transparent coat of nail polish that prepares the nail for the regular colored nail polish. Usually, base coats are clear but sometimes they can have additional coloring or glossy elements for enhancing the color of the nail polish, after it gets applied on top.
Base Coat Nail Polish Purpose
Why do you need a base coat? The purpose of the base coat is to fill in any sparse or broken areas of the nail to provide a smooth basis for the application of nail polish afterwards. Although it’s not necessary, it’s great for getting smooth and long-lasting manicure and pedicure results at home. Some base coats also have additional nourishing and strengthening ingredients such as vitamin E, keratic, calcium and diamond powder that help promote nail health and prevent breakage.
How to use Base Coat Nail Polish?
Due to the absence of coloring pigments, base coat is easy and very forgiving upon application—no need to stress it out. To get the best results though and the smoothest finish possible, the basic steps are as follows:
- Trim your nails if long, and use nail file to smoothen any rough edges (the file should always be in one direction as you don’t want to damage your nails).
- Start applying the base coat with its brush, starting from the middle of the nail and then building your way towards the edges. Be careful not too much at the first layer as it will become sticky and uneven. Using thin and taught strokes from downwards to upwards is the way to go.
- Wait for it to dry for at least a minute. Some base coats take just a few seconds to dry while others can take a few minutes to get 100% dry. If you want to make sure it’s dry, press very gently with your index finger—if it’s sticky, this is a sign that it needs more drying time. If it feels totally smooth and dry, it’s done. Be careful though no to press too hard as you will ruin the layer and you’ll have to reapply it another time.
- After you make sure it is dry, you can then apply your desired nail polish.
Note: Some brands offer kits that come with a base coat and a nail polish. While it’s not necessary to use a base coat and a nail polish of the same brand, these same brand kits have more compatible formulas for complementing each other. Some experts also recommend applying a second layer of nail polish, especially if you want your nail polish to last longer, but if the formula is strong enough, there is no need to apply a second layer.
Best Base Coat Brands & Reviews
Typically, brands that carry out nail polish lines offer base coats as well and there are not hard to find as they are found together in the nail section. However, not every base coat will do the job it promises—some are plain ineffective while others make the texture of the nail more uneven that it was before, which obviously defeats their purpose of using them in the first case.
The best base coats are divided according to their purpose, action, and finish. The best all-purpose nail coats, as reviewed by many online users are Nubar’s Foundation Base Coat and Orly’s Rubberized bonder. These are designed to provide a smooth base and make the nail polish last longer.
Best nail polish base coat to prevent staining
If you want something that will cover and prevent staining on the nails Zoya’s get even base coat. This retails for $9-12 at online and offline beauty supply stores and selected drugstores. Sally Hanse’s nail rehab is also great for this purpose and it’s available in most drugstores and beauty supply stores for $7-10.
Best drugstore base coat nail polish
If you don’t have much time or money to spend on branded and expensive base coats, you can achieve similar results by trying out a few drugstore brands. Some great drugstore finds are Sally Hansen’s miracle gel base coat, Opi gel base coat and Essie Millionails.
Best nail polish base coat ridge filler
If you have ridges or breakage signs on your nail’s surface, a ridge filling base coat would be perfect for this purpose. Some good ridge filler base coats are Essie’s Fill The Gap, and Essie’s Ridge Filler (retails for around $9/available at Amazon, Sally Beauty Supplies, Drugstore and other beauty supply stores) as well as ACI’s bridge the ridge base coat treatment(available for $5.99 sally’s beauty supply and other big beauty supply stores).
Base Coat Nail Polish Substitute
Even though most base coats are clear, some base coats have white or nude pigments or even soft pastel colors that almost mimic the look of a nail polish. Some great options for this purpose are;
- Opi’s Natural Nail Base Coat (in a transparent white)
- Nail Teck’s Foundation Base Coat
- Catrice Color Brightening Base Coat.
If you are experimental enough and want to try something different, there are actually peel-off base coats that offer semi-opaque finishes and can be easily peeled off with your fingers instead of using acetone. Some great options on this category are;
- Isadora’s Peel Off Base
- Sally Hansen’s Big Peel Off Base
- Spa Ritual’s Unveil Peel-off base coat
The application steps for peel-off base coats are the same, but if you want a more opaque coverage, you’ll need to apply a second or even a third layer to the nails.
To remove, take a wooden and pointy nail cuticle pusher, a toothpick (if you don’t have any other tools) or simply your fingers. The removal process should start from the sides and if the base coat isn’t strong enough just 1-2 strokes are enough to peel it off. Typically, since these base coats are peel offs, they don’t leave out any sticky residue after being removed.