Nail polish 101: which base coat & top coat?

Hello! So before posting about my nail polish hoard, I thought I’d cover the basics: the basecoat and topcoat.

I’m a bit old school so I haven’t shifted over to UV gel or dip gel or any of the multitude array of more permanent solutions.

It was a frustrating (and expensive) process but I found a combo that works for my nails. If your nails are very bendy or flaky – dip gel might be best for you if you have a spare 45 mins and want them up to last 6 weeks.

So my combo is Revlon Colorstay Base Coat/ Gel-Smooth Base Coat and Essie Good to Go.

So…what’s the problem with this combo? Revlon a couple of years back discontinued their Color Stay Base Coat! They bought out a line of polishes called Gel Envy that had the basecoat already included in it instead.

But apparently a good replacement is Orly Bonder which you can get from Farmers NZ.

If you want to try something other than Essie, a good swap out is Sally Hansen Insta- Dri.

So choosing the best base coat/top coat (if you even want to use them) is based on a couple of things for me,

  • Does it work? I can get about a week without chipping with most polish brands/types with this combo.
  • Does it bubble? Not too much, but they all do when your fingers are too hot from the heat and humidity.
  • How shiny is it? Shiny! The base coat also acts as a nail ridge filler which helps.
  • How hard is it to apply? Well they can get gloopy – so I normally add a drop or two of some Orly Nail Lacquer thinner when that happens (which I also get at my local Farmers NZ).
  • Smell? They stink! But nail polish tends to have chemically smell anyway. It fades within an hour of application for me.
  • Brush? This made a difference for me in terms of frustration. I have a strong curve in my nails – they certainly don’t lie very flat!

The brush on the Revlon base coat is good for me because it covers a lot of surface area. It’s different from most because Revlon appeared to just have doubled up on a typical thin brush (?!). Weird but it works for me. Press harder and I get lots of coverage, flip it to the edge and I can get around the end of the nail without having to load my brush up.

The Essie Good to Go top coat has a thicker brush – a little thicker than the original ones thank goodness. It let’s me glide over the nail without having to do more strokes and run the risk of adding bubbles (never shake your nail polish – bubbles galore! If you have to, shake and leave for a 30 mins).

I’ve used a number of base coats and top coats over the years (like Seche Vite, OPI RapidDry, INM Out the Door) but because I’m in NZ, I found a combo that was easy for me to get a hold of. All three products are found in my local Farmers NZ (Albany in Auckland). Ranges can be regional so please check!

You can go without, but this combo helps me with staining and chipping. In the future I hope I can trial and post on the newer technologies in nail polish.

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