I wish to welcome all of you who are new to the idea of nail polish and nail art. If done correctly, even a simple nail polishing can look exquisite! Which is why you and I are both here. One of the most important steps of a manicure is laying a solid foundation for it
Step 1: The Base Coat
I have heard, seen and read it various ways with various opinions on the use of a base coat when painting your nails. As someone who genuinely cares about the condition of my nails, I always use a base coat, for a few different reasons, which I will share with you. Ultimately it is up to you to decide if you want to use it. If you decide not to, I would only urge the use of a base coat if you are using a highly pigmented polish, so as to avoid staining your natural nails.
Base Coat has a few helpful perks. The first is that it helps the adhesion of the polish. Polish adheres better to a base coat than most natural nails due to the oils of your natural skin. If you struggle with wearing polish because it just comes right off, I would suggest trying a few different base coats and see if one stays on your nails better than polish. Different brands of base coat will stay and sit on your nails differently. It is alright to go through a few different types of base coat before you find one that you like best.
Base Coat also helps your polish lay smoother across your nail. It may come as a surprise to some of you, but most women have ridges of varying degrees in their nails. It is nothing to worry about, it is a rather natural part of aging, as our nails slowly dry out (I will touch on this in a different post). Whatever you do, please do not sand these ridges down to get your polish or natural manicure to lay smoother. Base coats help fill these in just a bit, and if the ridges in your nails are severe enough, there are actually Ridge Filling Base Coats. If you do go for one of those, I would recommend trying to find a fibrous one, because not only will it fill in the ridges with a more natural appearance, it will help strengthen your nails as well.
Some of us have very thin nails that are soft and weak and that love to break on us. I will let you in on a little secret: I actually use a Nail Strengthener as my every day base coat. As a quick bit of background on myself, when I was just out of high school, I was dealt the blow of becoming seriously ill. Due to this, my body made the decisions for me to let me hair and nails start to fail, in order to overcompensate for the ailments I was dealing with. As someone who has loved my nails since I was little, it was devastating to see them start to crack and splinter at the simplest touch. I was used to nice strong nails, that were straight and narrow with a slight curve to their almost straight free-edge. Gorgeous they were, and I knew it and I loved it. This is when I started to do some serious research into extensive nail care, to try and make up the difference with the available nail care products and procedures. It has taken time, almost five years now, and they are finally getting back to what I would consider normal. Using O.P.I.’s Nail Envy Nail Strengthener was my saving grace for my weakened nails. And the nice thing is, unlike normal base coats, it dries super fast. And you can feel the difference once you have it on.
Going off of that, there are tons of various nail-care products that can act as a base coat, to help your unique situation with your nails. For example, O.P.I. has treatments and strengtheners specifically for aiding Soft & Thin® nails, or Sensitive & Peeling® as well as what they call their Healthy Maintenance®. Or China Glaze has their Calcium Gell Fortifier®, which covers weak, dry and/or splitting nails. Using those treatments, in combination with a polish on top of it, could help give your nails the support and protection they need to strengthen and improve on their own.
Base Coats have many uses and perks. I know that it is something I will never go without, and something that I would recommend to anyone who puts polish on their nails. Unless an allergy is involved, Base Coats are a precaution to protecting your natural nail, and more harm could be done going without, than the few extra minutes of time.