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Are a Base Coat and Top Coat Necessary? Is It Bad If you Skip Them?

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If you love doing your own nails at home, you probably have many bottles of nail polish in a variety of colors lining your bedroom dresser. You may even have a few different base coats and top coats in the mix.

But have you ever wondered are a base coat and top coat necessary? Especially if you don’t have the time, and your favorite nail polish gives you good coverage without them?

In this article, we’ll share why you might need to reconsider your current manicure routine.


Are a Base Coat and Top Coat Necessary, Really?

Basically, if you’re short of time and doing your own nails at home, then it’s not an absolute necessity that you use both base coat and top coat for a quick and easy manicure.

However, the base coat and top coat both play a necessary role in creating a manicure (or pedicure) that will not only look great, but will also last for days without chipping.

It’s not an absolute necessity that you use both base coat and top coat for a quick and easy manicure. However, they both play a necessary role in creating a manicure (or pedicure) that will not only look great, but will also last for days without chipping.

So, with this in mind, let’s take a closer look at the actual benefits of using each one.


All About The Base Coat

The most important role of a clear base coat is to protect your nails from the application of color, some of which can bleed into and permanently stain the nail bed, like darker shades of reds and blues, until the rest of the nail grows out.

If a base coat is applied beforehand, it will most likely stop any color bleed from getting to the nail, (although this will depend on the product’s formula as well as the actual nail varnish that’s applied on top of it).

Where confusion may arise is in the different types of base coat on offer. Varying formulations cater to different nail bed needs. For instance, some base coats contain extra hardeners or strengthened, and others cater to smoothing out ridges, and even moisturizing dry nails.

Meanwhile, there are even base coats that you are able to peel off, which can come in handy if you applied a glitter nail polish for your sister’s wedding then have to work a professional job the next day and don’t want the bling (ahem).

And then there are the now popular sticky-like base coats, which dry to leave a rubbery finish that gives the actual nail polish color something easier to adhere to. This works great if you have skin or nail that are oil-prone, because it will make your manicure last for much longer.


Top Coat Tips

Using a top coat is a must-do for your polish application, especially if you desire the neat and glossy shine that you see on all nail polish advertising. They give the nails an added protection of lacquer to protect your color from chipping, and the elements.

Using a top coat is a must do in your application routine, especially if you desire the neat and glossy shine that you see on all nail polish advertising.

Just like base coats, there are many different varieties of top coat. For instance, the most common types are quick dry and strengthening, which are pretty self-explanatory. Then there are top coats that give matte or holographic effects, for example.

If you want your home manicure to have a fighting chance of lasting more than a couple of days, then using a top coat is essential to keep it looking at its best. And don’t be tempted to try to use a base coat as a top coat unless it’s made particularly for that (see below)!


Can I Use One and Not The Other?

If time is of the essence, and you can only apply either a base coat or top coat, then choose the former.

Overall, base coats will help to keep your nails in a healthier state. This is especially true if you paint your nails on a regular basis.

A base coat will do the job of preventing your nails from becoming brittle, as well as form a barrier to any yellow staining from vibrantly-colored nail polish. They will also allow your preferred nail polish color to stick, as well as give it an even texture that you’re ready to show off with that black dress.

If you have ridges in your nails that you want to treat, then you can also use a ridge filler in place of a base coat. A ridge filler will work to fill in the dips on your nails and give the nail polish a smoother surface on which to adhere.

If you have ridges in your nails that you want to treat, then you can also use a ridge filler in place of a base coat. A ridge filler will work to fill in the dips on your nails, and give the nail polish a smoother surface on which to adhere.

Forgoing a base coat simply means that the nail polish will be at risk to the elements. It willwill chip more easily. While that’s not great, it’s just not as much of a problem as having stained nails because you skipped the base coat.


Based Base Coat Recommendations

Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Base Coat 

Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Base Coat, 0.33 Ounce (Packaging May Vary)
  • Base Coat: Apply one coat of our nail...
  • Nail Care: Mineral Fusion offers a full...
  • Smarter Makeup: Improve your complexion...
  • Natural Cosmetics: We select effective...
  • The Power of Minerals: Mineral Fusion...

Mineral Fusion Nail Polish Base Coat will provide your nails with a long-lasting and chip-resistant glossy finish that is free from chemical nasties like formaldehyde resin, toluene, camphor, DBP, xylene, and butyl phthalate.

Karma Organic’s Triple 5 Base Coat 

Karma Organic Triple 5 Base Coat; Non-Toxic Nail Treatment Vegan Cruelty-Free
  • ►Karma organic triple 5 base coat has...
  • ►Our triple 5 base coat secures...
  • ►Karma’s all products are natural...
  • ►Apply any nail polish color over...
  • ► Support Eco Values – We use glass...

Another base coat that will keep your nails healthier than most is Karma Organic’s Triple 5 Base Coat, which is also free of formaldehyde resin, toluene, DBP, and camphor, in a vegan-friendly formula.

The triple 5 in its name refers to the five vitamins and plant extracts contained in the formula, including vitamins A, B5, C, E, and F that work to hydrate nails, and deliver keratin-activating properties that promote nail growth.

The nourishing formula that’s packed into the bottle also includes aloe vera, lemon, ginseng, pomegranate, and grape extracts, which will deeply nourish your nails, as well as keep them looking bright without staining.

Seche Clear Base Coat 

Sale
Seche Clear Base Coat .5 oz. No Formaldehyde & No Toluene
  • AWARD-WINNING: Rock your nails with...
  • ULTIMATE NAIL BASE COAT: Its crystal...
  • QUICK-DRYING CRYSTAL-CLEAR SOLUTION BASE...
  • SAY “NO” TO NAIL BED STAINING AND...
  • EASY TO REMOVE: The revolutionary Seche...

The final base coat we recommend is Seche Clear Base Coat, an award-winning lightweight formulation that is free from triclosan, sulfate, phthalates, and parabens to keep your nails healthy.

This non-yellowing base coat will quickly dry to leave a glossy finish that will protect your nail color and is suitable for use with all different types of nail polish.

Tip Top Top Coat Recommendations

Sally Hansen Dries Instantly Top Coat 

Sale
Sally Hansen Dries Instantly Top Coat Nail Polish for Women, No Fade, 0.45 Fl Oz, Top Coat for Nails, Fast Drying Nail Color Protection, Resists Smudging, Chipping, and Fading
  • EASY TO USE - Apply 1 coat over dry...
  • GLASS-LIKE FINISH - Resists chipping and...
  • FAST DRYING - No smudges, streaks, or...
  • UV ABSORBERS - This top coat nail polish...
  • LONG LASTING - Lasts up to 10 days...

If you want to finish off your manicure the correct way, but don’t have time to wait around for it to dry completely, then Sally Hansen Dries Instantly Top Coat could be exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

Formulated to be a quick fix for a longer-lasting manicure, just a single coat will protect your nails from smudging and chipping.

Its ultra-fast drying formula will give your nails a glass-like finish that is resistant to chipping and smudging, and it includes UV absorbers that will help to protect your manicure against fading and discoloration of your nail polish.

Essie’s No Chips Ahead Top Coat 

essie No Chips Ahead Chip-Resistant Top Coat Nail Polish, 0.46 Ounce
  • Chip Resistant Top Coat: This clear nail...
  • For a Chip Resistant Manicure: This top...
  • Protective Formula: Infused with acrylic...
  • The Art of the Manicure, Perfected: High...
  • essie, America's Nail Salon Expert:...

Essie’s No Chips Ahead Top Coat will provide a brilliant and glossy finish in one quick, easy application. Its chip-resistant and vegan formulation is infused with acrylic resin, which helps to protect your manicure from peeling and chipping.

Inm’s Out The Door Fast Drying Top Coat 

Inm Out The Door Fast Dry, 0.5 Oz
  • Long wearing, high gloss finish will not...
  • Use alone or over any polish to...
  • Door fast Dry.

Inm’s Out The Door Fast Drying Top Coat will provide a long-lasting high gloss finish that won’t discolor or yellow your nail polish color. It can also be used alone to give a glossy buff to your natural nails, and is super fast drying as well as long wearing.

Londontown Duplex Base and Top Coat 

LONDONTOWN Duplex Base and Top Coat, Two-in-One Base Coat Top Coat, 12mL
  • A fast-drying base coat formulated to...
  • The breakthrough technology, activated...
  • It creates a strong, gel-like foundation...
  • Vegan, gluten-free, paraben-free,...
  • Start with clean nails. Apply one thin,...

Interested in one product that will do it all? Duplex Base and Top Coat from Londontown is a multi-use formula that has been formulated to simplify your at-home manicure or pedicure.

When it’s used as a base coat, it will prep and prime nails ready for polish. When it’s used as a top coat, it will seal in your nail color to prevent chipping and fading. This fast-drying product is also vegan, gluten-free, and paraben-free, so is a healthier alternative for your nails than many duo formulas.


Lasting Shine

So, now you know that in order to get the very best out of your manicure (or pedicure) when you do it yourself, then a base coat and top coat are necessary. Yes, they add a little more time to doing your nails. But the resulting glorious, long-lasting nails will be worth it.

Of course, you can always cut corners if you don’t have the time to do a full-on manicure.

However, this means your manicure won’t last as long as it could, and you’ll have to go back to the drawing board sooner rather than later to keep your nails looking their best.

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