Do you really need a base and top coat?

06 March 2020 | By Leigh van den Bergh

If you’re a regular at the nail salon, you’ll know there’s a reason why your nail technician uses a base and topcoat: In short, they work!


Topcoats and base coats also both go a long way towards prolonging the life of your new nail colour while also adding a glossy, professional-looking finish. We share our favourite recommendations, and tips from the professionals on getting the perfect manicure at home.

A case for base coats

Port Elizabeth-based nail technician Tatum Petersen says many people skip a base coat when they’re pressed for time, but do so at their peril. “Your base coat is literally the foundation of your mani. If you skip it or don’t lay it down properly, you’re going to eventually ruin your nails or get a horrible finished result”, she warns.

The base coat is there to protect your nails from being stained by the nail polish, especially if it’s a darker shade. It also helps create a smoother nail surface – filling in ridges and bumps – so your colour applies more smoothly and, last but not least, serves up a little grip.

“In the same way that primer or foundation extends the life of your make-up, the base coat gives your nail colour something to cling to,” says Petersen. “Do a test if you like. Apply a nail colour with and without a base coat and you’ll soon see that the nail with the base coat chips away fast.” 

Mavala Super Base Coat // Essie Nail Care Top Coat Gel Setter // Sorbet Long Wear Plumping Top Coat // Sally Hansen Top Coat Mega Shine // Wet n Wild Megalast Fortifying Basic Coat

Don’t skip the topcoat

A top coat can give your nails a great-looking slick of gloss, but that’s not all. “The good ones are formulated to be very hard, so they protect and seal your colour, making it much more resistant to scratches and chipping,” says Peterson. “You’ll also find many topcoats are much thicker than base coats. This is ideal because you want your first layer to be thin - your base coat - and your last layer to be thick. This is how you build a much stronger nail that’s less likely to bend or break, but in a way that ultimately looks nice and smooth – not gloopy.” 

Again, much like the base coat, Petersen says the topcoat will extend the life of your mani or pedi, ensuring your new nail colour really goes the distance. 

IMAGE CREDIT: 123rf.com

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