Best Nail Polish Base Coat [Review] in 2021
written by nail expert Jess Rowley
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Planning to buy yourself a trusty base coat that will keep all the chips away and prolong your manicure?
Good news! You’re at the right place, I’ve looked into everything you need to know on finding the best basecoat for your next manicure throughout this guide.
I’ve spent hours compiling through in-depth resources to make it less confusing for you- there are some hidden gems in here that you’ll have to take a look at).
With the base coat being the first step for your manicure it means it is also the most important, it can mean the difference between a flawless, glossy mani-pedi and a chipped, messy one.
So, here’s the magic.
To save you so much time searching I have piled together the top 10 base-coats to give you that flawless, chip-free manicure for longer while also helping against nail bed discoloration.
Here’s a tip: always make sure you invest in a high-quality base coat and top coat as it will make the world of difference to your manicure. Even if the nail polish says you don’t need either, I’d still use both.
You won’t want to miss what I wrote for number one on this list.
The Best Base Coats for a chip-free finish
Maxus Nails Base Coat
Now I love a base coat that is built to prep your nails but also strengthen brittle, weak, and peeling nails and Maxus is one of the very best. Give your nails that very much needed spa treatment at home.
Maxus’ base coat is infused with tea-tree oil and renowned for its antiseptic and anti-fungal benefits. It’s perfect for both manicures and pedicures.
All these benefits and it will also protect your nails from discoloration, staining, and yellowing, keeping your nails in pristine condition. Its unique formula is packed with silk amino acids that will facilitate growth and protect against breakage.
You’ll want to hear the best bit:
This base coat is completely 11-free and vegan, as well as cruelty-free. It will shock you how well this formula will work and keep your nails in pristine condition, that people will be asking you where you got your nails done!
It is also completely phthalate-free and gluten-free, giving you unbeatable durability while giving a beautiful sheen, glossy finish.
- Infused with tea-tree oil
- Antiseptic and anti-fungal benefits
- Silk amino acids to facilitate growth and repair
- 11-free, vegan and cruelty free
- May start to peel if you apply more than one layer
Latest deal: Maxus Nails Base Coat
OPI Nail Polish Base Coat
Whether you’re wishing for a longer-lasting manicure or to prevent natural nail yellowing, OPI is up for the job! You can rely on consistent high performance with this base coat, giving you the longest lasting outcome.
All you need to do is apply under your favorite nail polish to extend the life of your manicure while also preventing your nails from staining and yellowing.
This is a favorite among many experts.
OPI has been revolutionizing the world of nails and gives you the best quality performance at an affordable price. If you coat the tip and bed of the nail it will be less prone to peeling.
This base coat will make it much easier to apply the color and you can wear it for longer.
For an affordable price, this is one of the best, especially if you’re a lover of OPI’s nail polish!
- Prevents natural nail yellowing
- Makes it easier to apply nail polish color
- Not cruelty-free
Latest deal: OPI Nail Polish Base Coat
Seche Clear Base Coat
Show off your nails with the award-winning Seche Clear, this crystal clear base that adheres to your natural nail, protecting the nail bed against staining. Lead the way with this superior quality that will give you beautiful, strong, and natural nails.
This base coat will work with all types of nail polish, including acrylic and gel. Dive into the most vibrant and daring look, with the reassurance that it will last.
Try out a new design, a new color whatever the world of nail art takes you with no restrictions.
Now wait, there’s more
The quick-drying, crystal clear solution will dry down to a hard shield, shiny in seconds, speeding up the process so you can get those pretty nails quicker and for longer and won’t smudge under the pressure.
I love how strong this base coat will make your nails and you will love the results for a longer and glossier mani-pedi!
- Crystal clear formula
- Adheres to your natural nail to prevent staining
- Suitable for all types of polish including gel and acrylic
- Makes your manicure last longer
- None so far
Latest deal: Seche Clear Base Coat
Orly Nail Bonder Nail Treatment
The best way to keep your nails from breaking or chipping is to make your nails more flexible, ORLY’s basecoat was formulated with rubberized bonding agents which were built to strengthen nails to help get the most out of your nail polish.
It will surprise you how long their manicures lasted with this base coat, some people have even said that you won’t even need to use a top coat to stop the chipping.
Nourished and healthy nails will give you the best results possible, after trying this product I was completely hooked.
This formula is also super quick to try and gives you more product for your money, so win-win
You will have to try this formula, you won’t look back.
- Rubberized bonding systems for durability
- Will make your nails more flexible.
- Prevents chipping
- Quick-dryign formula
- Not clear formula
Latest deal: Orly Nail Bonder Nail Treatment
ella+mila Nail Care, Ridge-Filler Base Coat
I love Ella and Mila’s natural formula for enhancing the appearance of natural nails, for flawless application.
For many of us, ridges and dents in our natural form, making it difficult to apply nail polish smoothly. Instead of buffing those nails and thinning them to the point that you don’t have much nail left, use this ridge-filling base coat for a smoother finish.
This product is super easy to use and spreads evenly across the nails, with the perfect balance of thickness that it covers without appearing clumpy. It holds onto your nail polish for longer, without chipping.
Here’s the kicker:
It is a more natural formula this is the one, free of all toxic ingredients, completely vegan, and cruelty-free but the performance unmatched.
You need to add this to your kit!
- 7-free, cruelty-free, vegan, and free of toxic ingredients.
- Fills in ridges and uneven parts of the nail
- A perfect blend of thickness without being clumpy
- Saves you buffing your nails to oblivion
- None so far
Latest deal: ella+mila Base Coat
Revlon Quick Dry Base Coat
This base coat works hard to make your manicure look smooth, even and flawless for longer. With the quick-drying formula so you won’t have to wait for ages to get onto the best bit of your mani-pedi.
It consists of an acrylic formula that will anchor color and hold onto them, protecting against chips, breaks, and discoloring. It’s a high gloss, complete coverage formula that will be sure to keep your precious nails protected.
Let’s not stop there though.
It has plasticizers and acrylic polymers that will give you a strong base for a salon finish we all love. It will glide on like a dream then hold the color like its life depends on it.
If all this isn’t enough it is made without formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, and camphor meaning it is completely free of harmful ingredients.
Can you get any better than this?
- Acrylic polymers and plasticizers for a salon finish
- Glides on like a dream
- Holds onto color, preventing chips
- Free of harmful ingredients
- It’s not cruelty free
Latest deal: Revlon Quick Dry Base Coat
Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Base Coat
When you’re about to do yourself a manicure you know you can rely on Sally Hansen’s, everyone raves about their miracle gel but what about the base coat?
Everyone craves a smooth and strong nail, and that can become a reality with this basecoat. With its protective features, it will give you smoother, shinier, and safer nails without the chips.
You will love the full coverage of this base coat, even the ridges are filled so if your nails are bumpy and imperfect then you will want to try this option, giving you the most protected finish.
Here’s the good news:
Whether you want to give a full, even coverage or to protect your nails this base coat can do it all. It repairs and strengthens your split and brittle nails, giving you a flawless finish for longer.
The damage begins with brittle nails, so let’s take care of them together, with this base coat.
- Protective features for a chip-free finish for longer
- Repairs and strengthens
- Fills in any uneven dents in your nails for a smooth, even finish
- Perfect for weak or brittle nails.
- None so far
Latest deal: Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Base Coat
essie First Base Adhesion + Protection Base Coat
best drugstore nail polish base coat
If you’ve read any of my other guides you’ll know how much I love Essie’s products, for salon-quality formulas at drug-store prices. Their basecoat is no different!
Essie’s base coat provides a smooth surface for the color to cling onto, protecting the nails while the adhesion-promoting ingredients help to bond the polish to prevent chipping.
All you need to do is apply this hard-working base coat before your favorite color to extend the life of your manicure. Apply two layers of nail polish, then your trusty top-coat and you’re good to go!
Push the boundaries, try a new look, and make chipping something of the past, you will not regret adding this to your collection.
With award-winning formulas, Essie is unbeatable.
- Drug-store prices
- Adhesion promoting ingredients that bond with your nail polish to prevent chipping
- Smooth surface for the polish to cling onto
- Easy application
- Nothing so far
Latest deal: Essie First Base Coat
butter LONDON Nail Foundation Priming Base Coat
Prime and prep your color canvas for a flawless manicure. A beautiful manicure starts with the right base and primer, butter LONDON’s fast-drying base coat will give you a flawless base in a matter of minutes.
This base coat will adhere lacquer to the nail for even application and long-lasting finish every time. This base-coat will fill ridges for smoother nails, making your life so much easier when it comes to applying the color.
It will also protect your nail beds from staining, especially with darker colors like black and red.
But wait there’s more, it contains nourishing ingredients like hydrolyzed silk, horsetail extract, and vitamins B, C, and E for restoration, strengthen and repair. All this with an 8 toxic chemical-free formula.
You will fall in love with this prime and prep base and question why you didn’t buy it sooner!
- No chipping for up to 9 days
- Zoya is healthy even if you’re pregnant
- High salon-quality
- Range of colors to choose from
- None so far
Latest deal: Butter LONDON Nail Base Coat
Modelones Gel Top and Base Coat
Completely change up your whole nail routine with this base and top coat collection. It will bring a brilliant gloss, shine, and durability to even the most striking gel color.
This base and topcoat are perfect for your gel manicures, with curing methods that will last up to 2 weeks for some people.
Modelones will increase the adhesion of the nail and color gel. All you need to do is apply a thin base coat for your nails to stay longer, just like when you go to the salon.
It is perfect for all nails, from natural, UV gel, acrylic, and artificial nails, use with their gel nail polish for unbeatable results.
With so many people raving about this product on Amazon you can’t get any better, I know I made you wait so long for this one but you won’t regret it!
- Perfect for all types of nails
- Can make nails last up to 2 weeks
- Gives you unbeatable gloss, shine, and durability
- Includes the top coat as well as the base coat
- Cheaper to get the two-pack rather than the base coat on its own
Latest deal: Modelones Gel Top and Base Coat
How to get the most out of your base coat- buyers guide
Give your nails some love and what better way to do that than buying yourself a base coat, it will prime and prep your nails so your nail polish can do wonders for longer.
But it’s a step we often miss out on or forget about, then we see chipped nails a day or so later and wished we spend longer and applied a base coat.
It’s a time-consuming and tedious task, who blames us for missing it out? But you will definitely notice the difference in spending a couple more minutes to apply a base coat.
I would argue that the base coat is the most important step, it will not only nourish, repair, and strengthen your nail underneath but it will also bond and be an adhesive to hold onto your nail polish to prevent chipping.
Base coats are strengthening formulas to repair weak and brittle formulas while protecting your nails from further damage, they are often packed with oils and vitamins to help nourish the nails.
It will also provide a smooth base, some on my will smooth out any uneven surfaces and dents in the nails that need filling to make sure you have the best and easiest application for nail polish.
Let’s dive into everything you need to know to get the most out of your manicure.
What is the purpose of base coats?
Improves the longevity of your manicure:
As your fingernails aren’t naturally sticky (shocker I know) it can be difficult for your nail polish to adhere to your nails, unless you use a base coat.
A base-coat is like a double-sided tape, they stick to your nails for dear life as well as the nail lacquer on top of it. This increases the longevity of your manicure while also preventing chipping.
Often you will find that it makes nails much more flexible, less rigid, and more even overall to keep your nail polish from flaking off every time you go to do something.
One main purpose of a base coat is to prevent the color from staining your actual nails. After using the most daring red color you definitely know you’ve forgotten the base coat when you remove the color then realize your nails have been stained red, it looks like a crime scene- we definitely don’t want that.
Base coats give you that extra protective layer to prevent nail polish pigments from staining the nail bed, if you don’t want oddly stained nails for months I would recommend investing in a good quality base coat. Especially if you love the darker, more vibrant colors.
Fills in ridges and uneven parts of the nail:
Not everyone is blessed with smooth, silky nails and it can make our life much more difficult when it comes to painting our nails. Genetics, diet, medication, and certain diseases can cause your nails to become uneven and cause dents in them.
It can become visible without a base-coat and can ruin your whole look, everyone wishes for that silky smooth finish. It can also affect the strength and stability of the manicure.
Buffing your nails is all well and good for smoothing out the surface but it can actually do more bad than good. Lucky for you this is what base coats are good at, smoothing the surface so you can have an easy application and flawless finish.
Base coats like ella&mila’s have ridge filling ingredients to smooth these bumps and uneven surfaces so it makes your job much easier when it comes to applying the nail polish.
Overall applying a good quality basecoat will improve the outcome and longevity of your manicure and prevent the most annoying chips, you should definitely add a base coat to your routine and the outcome will shock you.
Base coat vs top coat
We all hear we need to apply both the base coat but what’s the difference?
They actually serve two very different purposes, the base coat adheres to your nail, giving your nail polish a grippy surfaced to cling onto. Whereas the topcoat will provide a protective shell that absorbs any shock from catching your nails, to prevent chipping.
If your base coat is slippery like the top-coat then your nail polish won’t stick and if the top-coat is too rubberized it wouldn’t be as durable.
I would definitely spend a little bit extra to get yourself a base coat and top coat as buying one that’s a mixture of the two won’t be near as effective as having them both.
Frequently asked Questions
What is the best base coat for nails?
There isn’t one single brand I can give you for this one, all the ones I have listed are great in different ways. For example, Maxus Nails Base Coat is perfect if you have brittle nails that need a bit of TLC while remaining super durable. It is also 11-free from harmful chemicals as well as vegan.
But OPI is brilliant for holding up a strong shield to protect nails from chipping but also staining, it will extend the life of your nails while preventing your nails from odd discolorations.
It is difficult to pinpoint which one is the very best as they are all slightly different and cater to different needs. But I can guarantee that each one on my list is the very best base coat for nail polish.
How many coats of base coat should I use on my nails?
Between one and two coats of base coat will be needed, with a lot of base coats you will only need one layer and that will be all you need.
How long does the base coat take to dry for nails?
Usually, 1 to 2 hours to dry fully but you can start applying your nail polish after a few minutes- check out how long nail polish takes to dry.
In this guide today we have gone through the very best base coats, breaking down all the confusing features. Hopefully, we both have taken something out of this guide as to how important the step of priming your nails with the base coat is for the performance of your manicure.
Whether you’re here to fill in the ridges and mask imperfections or even to keep nail polish intact for longer without the pesky chips or peels.
I hope this guide was helpful, choose from any of the selection today and I promise you, you won’t regret it. Your nails will never be the same again!
Let’s stand out from the world and push the boundaries, getting the best results.
Nail Technician Expert
Jess Rowley, a veteran nail tech, has been studying beauty over the last 11 years and has completed the nail technology program in California. Watching the latest trends in beauty, Jess searches for the highest quality products that make your nails feel loved.