Should I Use a Nail Polish Base Coat?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2019
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A nail polish base coat is a clear coat of polish that is applied to the nails before the colored nail polish. In general, it is a good idea to use a base coat, because it will help protect the nails and help the manicure to last longer, among other functions. Some base coats come in a bottle that claims to function as both a base coat and a top coat, but it is a good idea to purchase individual products designed for the purpose.

To use a base coat as part of an at-home manicure, first make sure your nails are clean and filed into the desired shape, and the cuticles are gently pushed back. Then, take a cotton swab with a bit of nail polish remover on it, and gently sweep it over the nail to remove any natural oils. These oils can make it more difficult for polish to adhere.

Next, apply the nail polish base coat. This coat of polish should be applied evenly over the entire nail, and it should dry quickly but remain slightly tacky. It should not usually appear shiny. After the base coat has been applied, one or two coats of nail polish can be brushed on, followed by a top coat designed to make the nails appear shinier and make them more resistant to chipping.


The base coat serves a number of functions. Many include ingredients designed to condition the nails, such as vitamin E or calcium; these can protect the nails from splitting or chipping, as well as encourage faster growth. In addition, a base coat helps prevent dark nail polishes from staining the nails. It also helps the nail polish to stick better to the nails, which may make the manicure last longer, and it may also make the nails appear smoother.

When getting a manicure at a salon, a nail polish base coat is almost always used. Base coats may be purchased at nail salons or at any drugstore or beauty supply store that sells nail polish. It is typically roughly equivalent in price and size to a bottle of nail polish. To keep a manicure looking fresh for a longer period of time, repair any chips in the color with a nail polish pen, wear gloves when doing any work that could damage the nails, and reapply a top coat every few days to keep nails looking shiny and pretty.


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Post 5

How is a base coat removed?

Post 4

That's true; a good basecoat will keep your nails healthy. I used Rainnail basecoat for a while. Because I really need a pure basecoat without solvent-based, I have used OPI, Essie and Sally Hansen before, but they all need remover. Now, I apply Rainnail basecoat first then apply OPI or Sally Hansen nail polish, which is easy to remove with warm water after a few days when I need to change my color.

Post 3

I love these articles! I'm doing a project on nail polish for my seventh grade science fair and all these articles have been really helpful and gave me like, half of my 200 note cards! thank you wiseGEEK!

Post 2

I usually use a clear nail polish top coat on my nails when I don't feel like adding a color. Do you think that it would be better to use just a nail polish base coat if I just want some sheen? Or are most base coats flat?

Also does wearing a layer of nail polish all the time damage the nails further? I would like the added benefits of the treatment for my thin nails without inadvertently hurting them more.

Post 1

I think that a good base coat is key to making your manicure last and keeping your nails healthy.

You should try to buy a base coat that includes ingredients that match your nail's needs. They literally have something for every nail type. Whether you have brittle nails, ones that are too soft, ones that peel, or even some discoloration, there are base coats to help.

I find that it also helps my nail polish stay in place and reduces the amount of time I have to spend maintaining my look.

I think that a base nail coat is a quick and easy way to extend the life of your manicure and women should definitely invest in this additional step.

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