Base Coats, Top Coats, Why?


The basics: top coat & base coat explained.

I was always a skeptic, why do I need MORE layers of liquid on my nails? Isn't the polish enough? Won't it take longer to dry? What if some chemical reaction takes place and I won't be able to change nail colors? Will it cause bubbles? What if the texture is weird? 

Isn't nail polish enough?

In most cases, it isn't. A base coat can assist your nails in becoming the perfect canvas for color. A base coat is an excellent weapon in not only protecting your nails from staining, but also applying treatments. What? Treatments? Yes! Some base coats have nail hardening protein, others have moisturizing aloe, vitamins, or even strengthening qualities, so why not protect and heal your nails at the same time? Many base coats can help smooth ridges, minor dents in your nail bed to help your polish apply evenly.

Want to keep that sheen on your nails longer? Use a top coat. Top coats can actually help the nail paint bind to your nail (and base coat, if using one system). Like base coats, top coats can be packed with added bonus perks-- hardeners, nutrients, SHINE! The shiny nails can last anywhere from 5-8 days with a proper top coat! 

My personal go to base coat: butter LONDON "Nail Foundation"  --Yes, the name is cute, but it actually describes what this base coat does. It paints your nail nude and dries matte. The nude finish help with opacity specifically--butter LONDON polishes, many times I can get away with only one coat of nail polish! Your nails are automatically a 'clean' slate and ready for polish application!

BUT! My cons about this product --- the price! It's now $19 and you cannot use this with Deborah Lippmann products. I've tried and failed. If I were to speculate, the problem itself lies in the Deborah Lippmann polish, possibly the formula doesn't adjust well to this base coat. I own very few Deborah Lippmann products so this isn't really a terrible con for me. 


What I've tried before: Sally Hansen "Double Duty Top & Base Coat," Sinful Colours Profssional "Basecoat", Revlon "Natural", Sally Hansen Manicure "Clear'd for TakeOff"

All of these base coats are clear except for Sinful Colors, have no real opacity, remain shiny, and allow major staining. After time, with the exception of Revlon & Sinful Colors, all of them goop-ified. Double Duty, or any combination base & top coats are always the most disappointing. They tend to excel in one area and fail in the other, or fail in both categories  Too good to be true. 

Okay okay, a base coat does good things for your nails and your nail paint, but why a top coat? 

Is a top coat really that necessary? Trust me, I wondered this a lot too.  

So what caused me to change? I am a lazy polish addict. I love acquiring new colors, and giving myself small confidence boosts throughout the month but I loathe waiting for a polish to dry. I never understood why a little bit of paint took FOREVER to dry, until I discovered the wonders of a top coat. 

Top coats are clear (usually!) and shiny. They help seal your nail polish, and if you're using a system they help 'lock' the system. What are systems? Using a base coat, nail paint, top coat from one brand. Systrems are designed to prolong wear-time. Examples of nail systems:  Zoya Color Lock system, Revlon ColorStay, butter London Essentials.

Because I reviewed butter LONDON "Nail Foundation" base coat, I have to review the top coat as well.

butter LONDON "Hardware": this is PERFECT for butter London Polishes, and select Zoya polishes. Don't be scared by very watery, thin, top coat liquid. Over time the consistency develops into that of a regular polish. BUT! Please note the shine lasts longest for butter London polishes, and very small amounts of Zoya polishes.  If your polish collection isn't heavily butter LONDON skip the top coat, it doesn't do much for polishes outside of the butter London brand. Honestly, a let down considering the hefty $18 $19 price tag.

I'm in-between finding my go to top coat right now. I have a few strong contenders:

The instant: Seche Vite Fast Drying Top Coat -it's fast, and works perfectly. Delivers a long lasting shine but has three cons. 1) The smell, oh toluene. 2)It pulls your polish as it dries. 3)The goopification. Oh my! After you've used 1/2 a new bottle is necessary.

The habit: Avon UV Gloss Top Coat, not as fast as butter LONDON or Seche Vite, but delivers a solid shine. It's tinted purple but applies and dries clear. I've used this top coat the most and have been very pleased with it. However, as I'm 1/3 through my current bottle I've noticed a complete collapse in quality. There is bubbling and increased delay in drying time.

The new: Sally Hansen MegaShine, I've only used this three times but it works as well as Seche Vite, without the smell. It is, sadly, prone to gooping as I've noticed a build in thickness. 


What I've tried before: Sally Hansen Manicure "Clear'd for TakeOff", Sally Hansen "Hardening Double Duty Top & Base Coat", Zoya "Qtica Extending Top Coat" , Orly Clear 

For all of these the shine lasts for 2 days, none are quick drying. Majority drag your polish color, all goop-ified except for Sally Hansen Manicure "Clear'd for TakeOff"

The Verdict: I've been using the butter London base & top coat combo since the beginning of this year. Now, August, I'm completely out of both. After extended use, a nude base coat simply makes sense. I'd splurge for this base coat if you're in the mood ($18$19.) If you have a decent amount of butter London, I suggest getting the duo "Nail Foundation & Hardware" packet from Ulta! If I had to pick a top coat, Seche Vite gets the job done. (Though, Sally Hansen Insta-Dri is a miracle worker!)

What are some of your favorite base & top coats?

Please not these are all stock photos of the products mentioned, these are not my photos.

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20 August 2012 @ 1:41 AM / 1 comments

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