Base Coats and Top Coats... Are They Necessary?

January 07, 2017 Pamela Rodgers

In a word, no. base coats and top coats aren’t necessary parts of a manicure at all. They do, however, play very important roles in a fantastic, long-wearing manicure. Let’s break them down and discuss.

Base Coats

Base coats most important role is probably that of protectant. Some colors (I’m looking at you, reds and blues!) can stain the nail bed. Using a base coat doesn’t necessarily stop this from happening, but it can lessen the stain.

There are many different types of base coats that you can buy depending on your needs. Some harden, some strengthen, some moisturize. Some are peel-off base coats that are designed to last just a day or so. This may sound ridiculous, but if you’ve ever tried to remove a blingy, chunky glitter polish, you’ll understand it’s value.

My favorite base coat is a “sticky” type. It dries to a rubbery finish and gives your color something to adhere to, making your manicure last longer. It works great if you have oily skin (and nails), or if you frequently use moisturizing products like balms, lotions, or oils.

Top Coats

Top coats provide a nice, clear layer of lacquer between your color and the elements. There are also many types of top coats as well. Quick dry, strengthening, thick (for chunky glitters), and effects coats like mattifying and holo top coats.

Hands down my very favorite type of top coat is a quick dry type. Some are quicker than others, but the best ones will give you a manicure that is dry to the touch in a few minutes. I still highly recommend going to the bathroom before you start a manicure, because even the quickest quick-dry top coat won’t stand up to the button on your favorite jeans without some care and precision!


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  • Sharon

    Jan 08, 2017

    I love a pedicure but sometimes I always smudge a manicure. I cannot seem to sit still long enough for it to dry. Thanks for the information.

  • Donna DeRosa

    Jan 07, 2017

    I always wondered about base coats. It seems like an added step. But now I see its purpose. Thanks for the info.

  • Kristen M. Fusaro-Pizzo

    Jan 07, 2017

    I have literally ALWAYS wondered if this was a necessity. Now that I know it is, I shall strive to have more patience waiting for them to dry!

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