Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Base Coats & Top Coats

Above: My rotation of base and top coats L-R: Rock Hard (hardener/base coat), Orly Ridgefiller, Orly Nail Armor, Sally Hansen Nail Quencher Hydrating Base Coat, Orly Glosser, Orly Bonder, Orly Won't Chip, Orly Nails for Males (matte top coat), INM Out the Door and Essie 3-Way Glaze. Currently for me, SH Nail Quencher and INM Out the Door are working well on my nails as a base and top coat.

This may be considered a rather boring topic and I apologize for the lack of pretty colors in the pictures, but I thought it might be an interesting topic, nonetheless. I always cringe to myself when someone tells me they don't use a base or a top coat because they don't make a difference. They do make a difference, especially when you find ones that work with your nails and their characteristics. Our nails are actually skin cells made up of a protein known as Keratin. Just as some of us have dry skin vs. softer skin, dry, porous hair vs. soft, shiny hair, and so on, our nails too are a product of our bodies genetic make-up and our general state of health. A particular base coat may work well for me, but it may cause poorer adhesion of polish or more staining of your fingernails when you use it. It's important to try different ones until you find the right ones for your nails and their needs. I have found two or three that always work well for me, but that's not to say I don't continue trying more! I have found many more that simply don't work on my nails. The same goes for a top coat. I don't recommend products that market themselves as a 2-in-1 base and topcoat. They are 2 different products with different purposes, so 1 product cannot logically do the job of both. The base coat serves several purposes: it acts as a primer for your polish giving it something to adhere to, it acts as a barrier between the nail bed and the polish to prevent staining and it should also replenish the nail, thereby giving it strength to help prevent breaking, splitting and peeling. Some base coats focus on ridge filling, some on strengthening, etc. I use different types, depending on my the condition of my nails. The purpose of a top coat is to add shine (or a matte finish, depending on the top coat), enhance the color, and protect the polish from chipping and scratching. As you know, some top coats dry faster than others, just as some protect better than others. Most wood surfaces have a primer and a protective finish, automobiles have a primer and a top/sealer coat, why not our nails?!! Experiment with a couple of base and top coats until you find a combination that works for you and your nail type, while keeping in mind that as our bodies change due to sickness, age, diet (vitamin deficiencies) and so on, the requirements for your top coat and especially your base coat, may change as well.


  1. Great topic to talk about! Yes... I was thinking about different base coats and top coats. Since this past week end with three nails breaking. Thanks for reminder that it takes some time,finding the right base and top coat.BTW, nice background change!

  2. Great post!! Very informative.

    I *was* a non base coat user for a long time, I would only use one if I knew I was going to keep my nail polish on for more than a day. However, i have been seeing how badly my nails are becoming stained because of no base coat. So I have vowed to start using a base coat everytime!! I'm a "convert" :)

  3. Love the new background! Looks roomier. Lots of good information. Thank you. I've alwaysused base and topcoat. If it wasn't important, they wouldn't make it!

  4. that's a great post, a good base and top are necessities ^^

  5. Velvet~glad to remind you and happy you like the layout!

    Brooke~it does make a difference in the staining. Of course we seldom leave our polish on for very long, but still...!

    Lucy~thanks, I like it too! I wanted to do a 3-column, but I'm not that advanced yet :) And you are right, they make the top & base coat for a reason.

    Clockwork~necessary items, for sure. Glad you enjoyed the post, I thought it may be too boring, but it's important to the whole process.

  6. Great post!
    You know, I'm very curious about Orly Nail Armor, I've been really close to buying it for a long time. Is it a good product? Tell me about it, please :)

  7. Vanessa~welcome! It's a very different product, but I like it. It's actually made with Orly's Ridgefiller as it's base, and then it have silk fibers in it. You can actually see the fibers when you're applying it, but it doesn't show in your polish or anything. It's a very strong base coat and because it's got the fibers and a ridgefiller, you get alot of protection and a smooth finish.

  8. Great; just what I am looking for ;) Thanks!!


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