A good base coat might not be the most exciting product to shop for when it comes to a home manicure, but it's an essential step if you want to keep your colourful polish chip-free while protecting against weak, brittle nails. As with many beauty regimes, the most crucial part of the process is in the prep.
Whether you're after a standalone clear base coat for gel nails or staying power for your glitter or brightly coloured nail varnish, there's an option out there for you. But what is a base coat nail polish? This guide will answer precisely that! We'll also be sharing tips on choosing the best one alongside recommendations for you to purchase on Amazon, eBay and Boots.
Applying a base coat should always be the first step in your manicure routine – after a bit of filing and buffing, of course. A base coat is the key to keeping your nails in tip-top shape, but this isn't the only benefit.
Base coats act as an adhesive, forming a surface that will allow your coloured polish to literally stick to your nails. Adding this step is paramount in having a chip-free manicure that lasts beyond a few days. Some can even prolong your polish for over a week.
They can also even out the texture of the nail bed, masking any ridges or bumps and preventing your colour from looking streaky. On top of it all, base coats act as a barrier between your nail and the polish, preventing staining. Some even contain strengthening ingredients to avoid splitting or breakages.
Now that we've convinced you of the benefits of adding a base coat, let's discuss the options. In this section, we'll go through the essential things you need to consider when shopping as well as tips on choosing the best base for you.
Base coats generally contain a wide range of ingredients, and as with any beauty product, it bodes well to look into what yours contains. There are a whole host of beneficial ingredients that specifically target problem areas in your nails. Here's a look at the most common nail problems and the ingredients that work to fix them.
Splitting is one of the most common nail problems, and even a little break or crack can completely ruin a lovely manicure. Most of us will suffer from nail splitting at some point, but if it's a regular occurrence, it probably means that you have fragile nails that could do with a bit of strengthening.
Look for ingredients that are typically used in nail strengtheners, such as ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, tosylamide, formaldehyde resin or nitrocellulose. Be warned though, formaldehyde has been linked to damaging the nails when using it for a prolonged time.
If you'd prefer to take a more natural route, horsetail extract, calcium and biotin (one of the eight B vitamins) are also meant to do wonders for strengthening!
Nails that lack moisture can easily become dry, brittle and start breaking, which becomes even more of a risk come winter. But that doesn't mean you need to stop having beautiful nails. Some base coats are designed to be specifically hydrating and moisturising to help with exactly this.
If you're looking to up the moisture levels in your nails, keep an eye out for proteins such as wheat protein, vitamins (especially vitamin E and A), and hydrating natural ingredients like aloe vera.
Also, if your nails are dry, it's once again best to stay away from formaldehyde, which can further dry them out. Other moisture-replenishing ingredients to look out for are kale, soy, keratin and jojoba.
Those little ridges in our nails are pretty common, especially as we get older. Still, if the ridges are exceptionally deep, it's probably worth visiting your doctor as this can indicate vitamin deficiencies, diabetes or other more concerning problems.
These ridges can make it challenging to apply a smooth surface of polish, but some base coats have been specifically designed to fix this problem. These base layers have a thicker consistency, filling in the ridges and gaps, creating an even surface to glide your colour over.
Some of us can easily spend – and enjoy – over an hour applying a home manicure, but sometimes, you need a quicker solution when you're short on time. With our modern lives becoming increasingly busier, the need for a speedy polish has undoubtedly grown.
If a fast manicure is something that you could benefit from, choose a quick-drying formula. There are many out there which guarantee to have your first finger dry by the time you've finished the last, meaning you can move swiftly onto the colouring. Now, that saves a lot of time!
Nail polish has come under scrutiny during the past few years for the number of harmful chemicals used in its formulas. That said, most researchers and beauticians are aligned in believing that the small amounts used, unless you are allergic, shouldn't pose much of a problem.
The most commonly used harmful ingredients in nail polish are parabens, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene and ethyl tosylamide.
If you want to be cautious, look for products that are 3-free, 5-free, 7-free, 9-free and so on. This lets you know how many of the commonly used harmful ingredients are not in their formula.
Talking of things to avoid, many nail polishes out there claim to provide a dual effect, combining both a top coat and a base coat into one tub of polish. While the cost might make these formulas seem quite tempting, experts remain consistent on their advice – it's not worth it.
Topcoats and base coats are intended for entirely different things, and while you can use them in a pinch, you won't get the same result. Base coats contain resins that add strength and are thick and sticky to help the colour layer adhere better, whereas topcoats are much thinner, dry quickly and protect the polish from wear and tear.
Now that you're all clued up on how to choose the right base coat that will keep your manicure looking fresh, let's dive into our recommendations. Here are our top 10 picks of the best base coat nail polishes in the UK!
|Key Ingredients||White tea extract|
|Key Features||Spray-on, smoothes ridges|
|Key Ingredients||Ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose|
|Key Features||Protective layer, strengthening|
|Key Ingredients||Butyl acetate, ethyl acetate nitrocellulose|
|Key Features||Strengthening, breathable, conditioning|
|Key Ingredients||Ethyl acetate, Butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, apricot kernel oil|
|Key Ingredients||Hydrolysed keratin, soy, wheat protein, aloe vera, vitamin E, jojoba|
|Key Features||Nourishing, moisturising, strengthening|
|Key Features||Protecting, chip-resistant|
|Key Ingredients||Ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, silica|
|Key Features||Primes, strengthens, protects, nourishes|
|Key Ingredients||Kale, keratin, aloe vera, vitamin A, C, E, F, H, ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose|
|Key Features||Strengthening, nourishing, growth, protecting|
|Key Ingredients||Ethyl acetate|
|Key Features||Long-lasting protection, primer, strengthening|
|Key Ingredients||Ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose|
|Key Features||Long-lasting, increased flexibility, strengthening|
|Free-From Formula||Free from formaldehyde, DBP and toluene|
Natural Nail Base Coat
Nailkale Base Coat
Superstay Strength Primer Protecting Base Coat
First Base - Base Coat
Rejuvenation Base Coat for Dry Nails
Base Coat Abricot
Strengthen and Breathe Oxygenated Base Coat
Quick Dry Base Coat
Spray-On Base Coat
The Salon-Staple No.1 Base Coat in the UK
A Cult Classic to Protect and Prevent Staining
A Green Smoothie for Your Nails
The Affordable Choice to Increase Staying Power
A Quick-Drying Formula to Make Your Colour Last
The Saviour for Damaged Acrylic and Gel Nails
A Luxurious Pink Shine to Protect the Base
Strengthen Your Nails While Allowing Breathing Room
The Speedy Drying Five-Free Formula
The One-of-a-Kind Spray-On Base Coat
|Key Ingredients||Ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose||Ethyl acetate||Kale, keratin, aloe vera, vitamin A, C, E, F, H, ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose||Ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, silica||Nitrocellulose||Hydrolysed keratin, soy, wheat protein, aloe vera, vitamin E, jojoba||Ethyl acetate, Butyl acetate, nitrocellulose, apricot kernel oil||Butyl acetate, ethyl acetate nitrocellulose||Ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, nitrocellulose||White tea extract|
|Key Features||Long-lasting, increased flexibility, strengthening||Long-lasting protection, primer, strengthening||Strengthening, nourishing, growth, protecting||Primes, strengthens, protects, nourishes||Protecting, chip-resistant||Nourishing, moisturising, strengthening||Nourishing||Strengthening, breathable, conditioning||Protective layer, strengthening||Spray-on, smoothes ridges|
|Free-From Formula||Free from formaldehyde, DBP and toluene||5-free||7-free||No||8-free||-||7-free||12-free||5-free||7-free|
Healthy nails start from the base up, so alongside your protective base coat, you may want to invest in a few other products to keep them nourished and strong. Here are three more guides to check out while your polish dries!
Whether you're prepping your party nails for a girls night out, you want to protect them from your signature rouge polish or you simply want to up your self-care, a base coat is a manicure routine essential. We hope you've enjoyed this article and that it's given you a few options for which products can work for you. Happy painting!
Author: Roxy Pratley
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