Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recommendation Thursday: Nail Polish Base and Top Coats

I always wear a base coat of polish, even when I'm just doing quick swatches for the blog, because it helps prevent staining and allows the polish to glide on and stay put.  Top coats are equally important for sealing, evening out any bumpiness from glitter, and extending the wear of polish.  When I go to the trouble of painting my nails, I want the color to last!

A couple of RTs ago, I wrote about nail care, which included some base coat options (but only those that had other "bonus" features), and there will be some repeats here, though most of the products recommended do not overlap.

Note: The usual size of nail polish bottles is 0.45-0.50 oz, but I note if the size of a product differs from that range significantly (there are some that are only 0.25 or 0.33 oz, and others that are as big as 0.60 oz).

Base Coats
Base coats can be sticky, to help the polish adhere better, or contain treatment ingredients, to make your nails healthier.

Orly Bonder, CND Stickey, and Butter London Nail Foundation
For the sticky type, Orly Bonder ($9 for 0.6 oz from Sally Beauty) and CND Stickey Base Coat ($8.50 for 0.33 oz) are by far the most popular.  Less popular, but perhaps better performing, are China Glaze Strong Adhesion Base Coat ($6 from Sally Beauty) and Essie First Base Basecoat ($8 from salons and some drugstores) are great choices.  If you want to go high-end, Butter London Nail Foundation ($18 from Nordstrom) performs excellently.

Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, Chanel Protective Base Coat

Nailtek Foundation II ($10) and Sally Hansen Hard as Nails ($3 for 0.43) are good treatment base coat options; the former fills ridges and strengthens nails, and the latter (which I use and like) helps harden/strengthen nails.  For high-end options, the Lippmann Collection Rehydrating Base Coat ($18) and Chanel Protective Base Coat ($25 for 0.4 oz), both available at Nordstrom, are very well-liked.

Top Coats
Sally Hansen Dries Instantly
Sally Hansen Dries Instantly is the only fast-dry top coat I've used myself, because it got good reviews on MUA and it was cheap (less than $5).  It does dry absurdly quickly––within 5 minutes I can operate as usual, though I would recommend against prying things open or doing anything that puts a lot of pressure on your nails.  I think it may cause a little shrinkage, but nothing too major, and as long as I apply it when my polish is still a little damp, it's okay.  The biggest problem I have with it is that it chips on me.  My polish lasts only a couple days on my toes before I have chips, compared to when I use Sally Hansen Diamond Strength top coat, which lasts a week and a half (at least!) on my toes; I get bored of the color before it starts to chip.

Seche Vite Top Coat, Poshe Super Fast Drying Top Coat
The most popular fast dry top coat, by far, is Seche Vite ($8-$10 for 0.50 oz, available at drugstores and beauty supply stores), though some complain of shrinkage and chipping problems.  The higher price of this one is enough to dissuade me from trying it just yet.  Poshe Super Fast Drying Top Coat ($7 for 0.57 oz) comes up very frequently, too, and people seem to have less problems with shrinkage when using it.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri, INM Out the Door
Some good cheap fast dry top coats include Sally Hansen Insta-Dri ($4 from drugstores), INM Out the Door ($5 from Sally Beauty), Wet N Wild Mega Last Quick Dry Ultra Gloss Top Coat ($2 from drugstores), and Revlon Quick Dry Top Coat ($4-5 from drugstores).

Nails Inc. Quick Dry Top Coat, Qtica Top Coat and 1/2 Time Polish Drying Accelerator
If you've got a yen for something higher-end but didn't like Seche or Poshe, you can try Nails Inc. Kensington Caviar Quick Dry Top Coat ($10 for 0.33 oz, from Sephora), MAC Overlacquer ($15 for 0.34 oz from MAC), Orly In a Snap ($7.50 from Sally Beauty) and Qtica Top Coat and 1/2 Time Polish Drying Accelerator ($7.50 for 0.25 oz from Ulta).

If you don't find yourself denting your nails, you can probably pass on the fast-dry top coats, though you should still put on something to seal your nail polish and make it last longer.

CND Super Shiney, Essie Matte About You
For a shiny finish, CND Super Shiney ($8.50 for 0.33 oz) and Sally Hansen Super Shine Top Coat ($4) are good choices.  To maximize the duration of your manicure, Revlon Extra Life No Chip Top Coat ($5-6 at drugstores) is a good bet.  Lastly, you can change up the look of your polishes with a matte top coat.  I've never used them, but the concept is very intriguing, and I'll have to spring for one soon so I can try it out!  Good mattifying polishes include Essie Matte About You ($8 from salons and beauty supply stores) and China Glaze Magic Flat Finish ($6.50 for 0.325 oz from Sally Beauty).  Lastly lastly, Sally Hansen Double Duty Base and Top Coat ($4-5 at drugstores) is nice for those who don't want to deal with separate base and top coats, and people seem to think it works well at both purposes.

Do you use base and top coats?  Which ones are your favorite?
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