best base coat

The Best Base Coats for Stronger Nails and Long-lasting Manicures

By: Dedet Panabi / February 10, 2020

Don’t you hate it when your nail polish starts chipping just a day after your manicure? Or how really dark colours (or several consecutive manicures) stain your nails? Well, these best base coats have got you — and your nails — covered.

Why do you need a base coat?

  • Protects your nails, thus preventing stains and yellowing. This is really important if you use red nail polish, neons and dark colours — their pigments are notorious for staining nails!
  • Strengthen brittle or weak nails with vitamins and other healing ingredients
  • Fills in ridges and creates a smooth surface, so nail polish looks less streaky
  • Prevents chipping, so your manicure lasts longer. Dr. Heidi Waldorf, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, explains: “The best base coats contain plasticizers that stick to the nail below and the polish above to prolong the manicure, and allow for enough flexibility to move with the nail as it bends.”

How do I apply a base coat?

  • Make sure your nails are completely dry. Use a non-moisturizing nail polish remover, or rubbing alcohol.
  • Apply thin layers and let it dry completely. Wait for about 3 minutes before applying your nail polish. Give it time to set!
  • Don’t use a top coat for a base coat, and vice versa. A base coat won’t give you that shine, and a topcoat won’t protect your nails or smooth. The only exception: a product that promises to do both, but that works only t if you don’t use very dark colors or have fragile, uneven nails.

If you just need a basic, affordable base coat:

OPI Natural Base Coat

Buy now: $13, ThatBeautyShop

Influenster reviews gave it 4.3 stars. It prevents stains and works with both OPI polishes and other brands. “Easy to use, and looks great. Comparable price and good value,” says one review.

Sally Hansen Double Duty

Buy now: $11.90, Watsons

If you rarely do your own nails at home, or tend to use light colours or get simple French manicures, this base coat will do the job. It can be used as both a base coat and a top coat. Get it if you use topcoats more often, but need one that can double as a base coat if you ever decide to apply polish yourself.

If you want your nail polish to look better:

Seche Vite Clear Crystal Base Coat

Buy now: $13.50, ThatBeautyShop

Some nail polish colours can be very thick and streaky. But nail polish addicts swear that this is the best coat to solve that problem. It creates a very smooth base. Your polish will glide on, and make your nails look like they’ve been painted by a pro.

Butter London Nail Foundation Priming Base Coat

Buy now: $26, Sephora

Frequent manicures (especially gel manicures!) can leave your nail surface rough and uneven. Use this if you don’t have time to buff your nails. It fills in ridges, so your polish looks extra sleek and smooth.

If you have weak, brittle nails:

Nails Inc Back to Life Base Coat

Buy now: $23, Sephora

As the name implies, this is othe best base coat for very damaged nails. It contains 5 oils that strengthen and protect your nails. It is also slightly tinted, so it can help hide any yellowing or discoloration. We recommend using this after gel manicures!

If you want your nail polish to dry faster

Revlon Quick Dry Base Coat

Buy now: US$6.59, Amazon

In a rush? This is the best base coat for faster manicures: it dries in seconds, so you can cut down on waiting time and apply polish almost right away. But even if it’s fast, it’s still effective: Amazon reviews gave it 4.3 stars.

Poshe Fast Drying Base Coat

Buy now: $9.80, ThatBeautyShop

Makeup Alley reviews swear this is the best base coat ever! One review said: ” This dries quickly and self-levels quite nicely, and provides a good base for the polish. I’ve been using it for more than a year now, and I’ve never had any issues with peeling, bubbling, cracking, or other problems sometimes associated with poorly formulated base coats. It protects my nails from discolouration (even with highly pigmented polishes) and it doesn’t yellow my nails. “