Someone applying base coat to their nails

Someone applying base coat to their nails (Photo by Ajax9 on Shutterstock)

Do you want to refresh your mani or pedi and don’t know where to begin? Let’s start with the base. Applying a base coat prior to polishing is an essential step in the manicure process. Using a base coat strengthens your nails, preventing breakage. It also helps polish to bond to your nail, for smoother color coverage. Another bonus? Base coats protect nails from yellowing and staining. Plus, adding one of the best nail base coats, along with regular applications of cuticle oil, will keep your fingernails in tip-top shape.

An at-home manicure is a good way to give your appearance a little boost. In fact, according to a recent study, people spend one-sixth of their lifetime trying to enhance their physical appearance. That’s four hours a day, every day, for both men and women, the young and the old, according to international researchers.

Using a global survey of over 93,000 people in 93 countries, the team finds that one of the reasons people want to look good is to attract a lover. However, in the digital age, the study’s findings show that people are more likely to fuss over their appearance if they spend more time on social media. For the social media-obsessed, researchers say many are spending all this time chasing unrealistic standards of beauty.

Here at StudyFinds, we want you to look your best. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top five brands from ten expert websites, to find the best nail base coats for your nails. As always, we’d like to see your own recommendations in the comments below!

Woman giving herself a manicure, painting her nails
Woman giving herself a manicure (Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels)

The List: Best Nail Base Coat, According to Experts


1. OPI Natural Nail Base Coat

OPI is known for making quality nail polish. The brand’s base coat is also a reviewer favorite. “If you’re after a classic, no-fuss-no-frills base coat, you can’t go wrong with a nail primer from OPI. Another pro favorite, this transparent base applies super glossy, dries within moments of application, and helps lacquers last up to one full week,” according to Editorialist.

OPI Natural Nail Base Coat
OPI Natural Nail Base Coat

Reader’s Digest calls this one ‘Best Overall’, adding it “applies smoothly and evenly thanks to the large application brush, and it dries in under a minute.”

Us Weekly also gives it top honors, noting its “all-natural formula, travel-friendly packaging, and an affordable price tag, this base coat nail polish is the top choice of manicure enthusiasts.” 

2. essie: Strong Start and Smooth-e Base Coat

When it comes to base coats, essie has two standouts. InStyle gives essie’s Strong Start ‘Best Overall’ accolades because it contains biotin, adding “it nourishes, fortifies, and strengthens nails both on the spot as well as over time. The inclusion of this powerhouse ingredient ensures that nails stay healthy, providing them with the nutrients needed to prevent peeling and breaking.” 

essie Strong Start
essie Strong Start base coat

Us Weekly points out, Strong Start “is vegan and made with no animal-derived ingredients or animal testing, so you can rest easy knowing that no animals were harmed during the manufacturing process.” 

essie Smooth-e Base Coat
essie Smooth-e Base Coat

If you have ridges on your nails, try the brand’s Smooth-e Base Coat. Lots of Laquer notes, the formula “does a great job of concealing heavily ridged nails, it can ensure that even the sheerest, most-streak prone nail polishes go on smoothly. It also dries quickly and blurs any imperfections and stains on the nail bed.”

Long Nails QnA suggests with Smooth-e, “you will able to treat any irregularities your nails have. Moreover, this base coat has a very sleek and natural look that makes your natural nails look flawless.”

3. ORLY Bonder Rubberized Base Coat

ORLY’s Bonder Base Coat “grips nail lacquer to the surface for lasting adhesion, thanks to a ‘rubberized’ formula made with cutting-edge resin technology,” according to Rank & Style.

ORLY Bonder Rubberized Base Coat
ORLY Bonder Rubberized Base Coat

“Aside from keeping polish from flaking or chipping, this base coat also fills ridges and prevents brittle nails from splitting and peeling. Plus, it dries quickly (we’re talking under two minutes) and it has a clear matte finish. We don’t recommend using this if you like to wear dark lacquer, though, as it doesn’t prevent staining on your nail bed,” notes InStyle.

Byrdie points out the base coat’s unique formula, “dries a bit tacky, but this is what gives the nail lacquer something to hold on to.”

4. Sally Hansen: Ultimate Shield and Double Duty Base & Top Coats

Sally Hansen makes our list with two formulas that can be used as both a base coat and a top coat. Stylecraze highlights Sally Hansen’s Ultimate Shield formula, adding it “features a micro-polymer formula, reinforcing brittle nails and boosting strength and flexibility for healthy-looking nails.”

Sally Hansen Ultimate Shield Base and Top Coats
Sally Hansen Ultimate Shield Base and Top Coats

Us Weekly calls Sally Hansen’s Double Duty Base & Top Coat the ‘Most Versatile’ noting, it “contains two key ingredients — nylon and pro-vitamin B5 — which are combined together to create a powerful solution that prevents chipping and peeling. It also helps to keep the manicure looking flawless for much longer by better adhering the nail polish to the nails.”

Double Duty Base & Top Coats
Sally Hansen Double Duty Base & Top Coat

Byrdie points out the Double Duty formula “smooths your nail beds, dries quickly, and provides a hardening effect.” You can find both options at most drug stores. 

5. butter LONDON Horse Power Nail Rescue Base Coat

Last but not least, is this base coat from butter LONDON. Why is it called Horse Power? “The treatment’s key ingredients include horsetail extract, which encourages stronger nail growth, alongside biotin, vitamin C and calcium, which all contribute towards healthier nail beds that are smoother to the touch and less susceptible to cracking or peeling,” according to StyleCaster

butter LONDON Horse Power Nail Rescue Base Coat
butter LONDON Horse Power Nail Rescue Base Coat

Rank & Style adds, “with continued use, it’s clinically proven to repair damage around the nail, in addition to providing a protective barrier on the nail bed.”

“Chip-resistant and long-lasting, this base coat ensures your manicure is wear-resistant, and the color stays fresh and bright for longer,” notes Stylecraze. One downside? It’s pricey. So consider this one to be a splurge purchase

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.   

About Melissa Kraus

Melissa is a freelance writer, based out of New Jersey. She has over two-decades of writing, editing, and producing experience for Radio, TV, and Digital Media.

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