In my former years, base coat and nail care in general, never really seemed an important step in any at home manicure. I would tend to slap on whatever colour I fancied, hoped for the best and when it chipped, which it always would (terribly in fact), remove it and start again.

It was only when my love affair with polish really kicked off, that I even considered using any kind of nail care products, base coat included. From the wide array of colours used on my nails, my talons had yellowed and stained. It was then I realised I could no longer carry on, I had to invest in something to prevent this i.e. A base coat.

Since using base coats, I have noticed my manicures have always (without fail) lasted much longer. I observed base coats help achieve longer wear time than use of top coats – they really work to keep polish chip resistant. With a good formula base coat, you can go best part of a week without a chipped nail, depending how vigorous you are with your hands.

Base coat helps prevent dark pigment rich shades from staining your nail beds. With autumn and winter on the approach and the lovely array of deep pretty shades beautifying our nails, it’s more important than ever to invest and use one. In this post we will discuss all kinds of bases, tips on how to use them from pro manicurist Jin Soon Choi and the science behind them.


imageMost base coats typically include a film-forming polymer dissolved in a volatile, organic solvent, (sounds complicated) but allows the formulation to function and perform optimally.

Base coat formulas use plasticisers, which keep the formula flexible by providing a non-brittle film. The base coat then, will not only bond with the natural nail, but bend with it naturally to avoid breakage due to this film created.

Building blocks in base coat formulas include cross chain link amino acids and proteins, these link together like a web, to recreate a strong nail foundation. Base coats tend to include cellulose adhesive polymers which provide a double-sided sticky layer, that layer adheres to the natural nail as well as to the nail polish applied on the base coat. Stabilisers are also included in formulation as they resist yellowing and colour change.

imageBecause base coats are developed to provide excellent adhesion to the nail, they offer excellent flexibility and retention of colour.

Quality formulas provide a protective, long-wearing base that is not compromised by pigment dyes used in nail polishes.

A good base coat does more than just improve nail polish adhesion — they also helps seal and protect the plate from staining, making it a necessary product for those who frequently use colour polish, nail polish addicts like myself.

Many of the ingredients used to reinforce nails wear off quickly, and need to be topped up often to be effective. This is why strengthening base products need to be re-applied and why after a few days of polish wear you may notice a difference in strength in your own nails.


The difference in formulations however change brand to brand, but most bases includes the addition or removal of ingredients like proteins, vitamins, nutrients and herbs. These together are used to target specific nail needs.

But on the whole common ingredients in base coat also include, Ethyl Acetate, Butyl Acetate, Nitrocellulose and Tosylamide Formaldehyde Resin.

So if you are trying to use cruelty free nail products or are avoiding nail polish nasties, this is something to consider when choosing a base coat.



The first step before any polish of any kind is applied onto the nail is to dehydrate the nail bed.

Using non acetone nail polish remover and a lint free material swiped across the nail, it will remove any moisture, oily residues or natural oils, leaving a squeaky finish to the nail bed. “If you have any residue on your nails, the polish will just peel off,” explains pro manicurist Jin Soon Choi. So this step is crucial for effective base coats!


With the nails clean, smooth and prepped, we are ready for the next step – Base Coat.


By using a base coat first, you will prevent streaking and eliminate the appearance of ridges that can appear on your nails.

This step creates a blank canvas for polish, prevents staining the nail bed and is an extra barrier between colour and the natural nail. “Find the right one for your condition,” says Choi. Whether your nails are strong, thin or extra-dry there is formula out there to suit your nail needs.


imageTo even out uneven nail beds try a thicker formula to make the surface even. A nail hardening formula might work better for this purpose.
For a budge proof base, Orly’s Bonder basecoat has a rubberised texture which works like double sided stickey tape for your polish. It gives the polish an even surface to adhere to. CND’s Stickey base coat works in a similar way to Orly’s Bonder and is one of my go to base coats.




For strengthening base coats, there is so much to choose from.

Notable strengthening formulas would include OPI Nail Envy, Nails Inc Nailkale Superfood Basecoat, Butter London Nail Foundation base coat along with Seche Vite’s Rebuild base coat.




Other excellent general base coats include OPI’s Natural Nail basecoat and OPI’s Chip/Skip basecoat which are perfect options for less troublesome nails.






For ridge filling concerns, Essie’s Fill the Gap and OPI’s Ridge Filler basecoat are excellent choices for base.

For more budget friendly options, drugstore brands like Sally Hansen and Essie have some of the best base coat formulas for the price point.




Essie’s has an extensive range of basecoats for different nail concerns, all excellent formulations.

My favourites – First Base and Millionails are well formulated base products.





Sally Hansen also have a great selection of base products, my favourites are Ultimate Shield and Double Duty.

These two can both be doubled up as both base and top coat, excellent multi purpose products.



imageA recent discovery of mine from Sally Hansen is the Nail Rehab formula, a great value strengthener for the price point.

I have a blog post coming up about glitter removal and base coats you could use for that purpose so if you are interested in peel off base coats keep an eye out for that post.

Well there you have it guys. A rundown all about bases, the do’s and don’ts and the science behind them.

What are your favourite base coats? Any I need to try?

Let me know in the comments.