I didn’t manage to post anything for Topic Tuesday this past Tuesday. I was too busy falling down the rabbit hole of “swatch all the polishes”. But it seemed like a fun and fairly easy topic — one for which I already had most of the pictures I would need. So I decided to hop into the blog today in order to post about it.
Last Tuesday’s topic, as the title suggests, was:
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BASE & TOP COATS? WHY?
I have a few favorites of each category. Interestingly enough, I have found my favorites have changed over the years. I was into polish as a teen, which was ages and ages ago. When I got back into polish as an adult, I intended to go back to using the same types of base and top coats I had used way back when. Possibly, this was a little bit naive on my part. Possibly, it was just a lack of knowledge. Or, maybe a little bit of both. It was interesting to look back on my teenage polish hoarding days and compare it to the way things are now. Nail polish has come a LONG way!! And there have been a lot of changes. There are more brands of nail polish available now. There are more finishes. Internet shopping has increased buying ability dramatically. And base and top coats have also come a long, long way. I found I had to experiment with several different ones before I found my new favorites.
I will warn you ahead of time this is going to be a post that is long on chatter and a little short on photos.
Right now, I have 3 favorite base coats. And, really, one absolute holy-grail favorite from among the three.
Unt is my favorite peel-off base coat. I don’t use a peel-off that often, so my bottle of Unt has lasted a long time for me. In fact, this bottle was a gift from my IG nail bestie, @jenniferwallenfels. I had heard a lot about this base and wanted to try it, but I was a little bit put off by the price tag and the idea of ordering it online. She had a bottle she didn’t want, so she sent it to me. I ended up loving it! Fingerpaints also makes a peel-off base coat. I have a bottle of that one, and it works okay. But it’s nowhere near as great for me as Unt. So I would have to say Unt is my “gold standard” with regard to peel-off bases.
The “why” of this is pretty simple: I have found Unt performs well on my nails and with my body chemistry. I’m not always able to peel my polish off in one smooth sheet. But I always get a fairly easy and hassle-free peel, even if the polish breaks up into pieces and bits. By contrast, I had to work pretty hard to get the Fingerpaints peel off base up from my nails … to the point where I felt I was scraping the polish off, instead of peeling it. Unt also has a decent drying time for me. It is a little slower than the base I normally use, but not so slow that it irritates me. As I said, I don’t use a peel-off base that often. Even with glitter polishes, I often use my normal base and just soak the polish off when I’m done.
CND Stickey was my go-to base coat for quite a while. I would say I was completely and absolutely in love with this base coat for about a year or maybe even a little longer than that. I had tried Orly Bonder and one other sticky base coat, but I didn’t like either of them as much as the CND. In fact, I can’t even remember the name of the second one. That’s how much I didn’t like it.
Again, the “why” boils down to Stickey working the best with my particular body chemistry. It dries quickly on me, so I can get to my actual manicure that much faster. Whenever I used Stickey as my base, I found my polish lasted for a good bit of time. It lasted as long as I wanted it to, at any rate. There are times when I want my polish to last 3-4 days, and Stickey gave me that with no problems. In contrast, polish applied over Bonder tended to chip on me after only a day. Bonder took forever to dry on me, too.
American Classics Gelous is my current absolute favorite, holy grail, constantly go-to base coat. Y’all … I freaking LOVE this stuff as a base coat. I think this might be marketed as a gel-like top coat, but I use it as a base. I don’t think I’m alone in this. But I might be alone in my single-minded obsession. Not only do I use Gelous under my own manicures, but I also use it when swatching. I manicure a lot, and I feel like I go through buckets of this stuff. I always have several spare bottles hanging around with my mani supplies.
And so, why? Why did Gelous capture my heart in such a mad way? There are a few reasons. For one, it is easy to find. I can get it at my local Sally’s, as opposed to having to order it online or search it out by visiting multiple stores. It dries quickly once I apply it. In general, I can apply it across all ten nails, and the first nail is ready for color by the time I get all the way through. I have slight ridging in my nails. The ridges aren’t bad or even overly strong, but they are noticeable under some polish finishes. Gelous is so nice and thick on the nail that it acts as a perfect ridge filler. My manicures last a decent amount of time with it, and it works great as a glitter food, too.
As with base coats, I have a few favorite top coats, too. But, of course, one of these generally acts as my go-to base coat. I’m not sure I would necessarily call it my holy grail, ride-or-die, but it is the top coat I tend to use the most. I’m not sure how I ever survived without fast dry top coats. When I first started exploring the world of fast dry top coats, I headed straight for Seche Vite. It was my favorite for quite a while, and I still like it a lot. But I eventually realized Seche Vite doesn’t work well with all polishes, which led me to search out other options.
Out The Door is a great top coat. I sometimes use it for swatching. It dries quickly, and it’s easily available at my local Sally’s. I also like how it comes in a larger-than-usual bottle. I had a problem with Seche Vite drying out too much, so that it ended up getting gloopy before I reached the end of the bottle. Often, I would find as much as a third of the bottle unusable. I have Seche Restore, but I haven’t had much luck with bringing my thick and gloopy Seche Vite back to life. In contrast, I haven’t found this as much of a problem with Out The Door. I feel like I get a lot more use out of it, overall. The main drawback of this one as a topper over my own manicures is that it doesn’t have the plump or thick look I like to see.
HK Girl would probably qualify as my ride-or-die favorite if it was easier to acquire. I was lucky enough to try this top coat thanks to my IG bestie, @jenniferwallenfels. She had found it didn’t work out for her like she wanted it to, and she passed her bottle on to me. I loved it. And I used the heck out of it, right to the bitter end, when my bottle was empty. It gives a nice, thick, and glossy finish to the nail. It looks like glass, and I love that. The only thing I don’t love about it is that I have to order it online. I’m such a weirdo in that I want to save my limited funds for actual nail polish colors, instead of base and top coats. If this was easily available to me in a brick and mortar store, I would repurchase it again and again.
And that brings me to Poshé. This has become my favorite and most-used top coat. I’m not sure it will always be my favorite, as I don’t seem to be as attached to my top coats as I am to my bases. But, for now, Poshé is my baby. I like this top coat the best because it strikes a nice balance among all the things I want in a topper. It has a beautifully thick and glossy finish on the nail. It comes the closest to that glassy finish I loved so much from Seche Vite. But I find Poshé lasts a lot better. I can get down to the very last bit in the bottle before it becomes gloopy and unusable. It is easily available to me in my local Sally’s, and it is relatively inexpensive. I like this, because it means I can dash to the store and grab a bottle whenever I run out. Not that I ever run out, because I keep extras on hand. A girl’s gotta be prepared, after all!
I have one more top coat favorite to add into the mix since the last time I posted on this topic. This is American Classics In A Hurry. This is not a favorite for me for wearing over my manicures. But I use it all the time for swatching. I picked it up at Sally’s on a lark, just to see whether or not I would like it. I didn’t feel it measured up to Poshé as a topper for manicures I wanted to wear for any length of time. But it was fantastic for swatching. It dries quickly. It is nicely glossy, although I generally like to use a couple of coats to get a plump and juicy look for swatch pictures. And that’s okay, because it comes in a nice-sized bottle, and it’s inexpensive. Using this for swatching saves my beloved Poshé for manicures. Victory!
So there you have it: my base and top coat madness. It’s funny how so many things in nail polish end up being a bit of a journey. You think you have your “forever” manicure item, but there are always new things to try. There are always new nail adventures out there, just waiting — even for something as simple as base and top coats!