The Basics of Base Coats

Main image: 
The Basics of Base Coats

While a fair amount of the general public doesn't bother to use a base coat when applying polish at home, those in the nail business know that a base coat is essential to the protection of the nail. A good base coat prevents yellowing, and can reduce breakage and chipping. But do you need one with keratin? And is it necessary to wait a certain amount of time after it is applied? Here are a few common questions answered.

 

 

 

So, what's really in a base coat?
Base coats all have three basic ingredients, film-formers, resins, and plasticizers. Ridge-filling base coats in particular have more resin in them that your average base coat; that's what makes them work.

Is a thick layer of base coat any better than a thin one?
A base coat simply needs to cover the entire nail plate in a smooth, but thin coat. Applying too much can flood the cuticle. Applying a coat that is spotty and doesn't protect the nail in full from stains and damage.

How long should you wait after applying base coat before painting with polish?
Give a freshly applied base coat a solid 90 seconds to dry and stick to the nail before applying polish.

Should I look for a base coat with added vitamins and minerals?
Vitamins and minerals are added bonuses for base coats. While they're not wholly necessary, since base coats are in constant contact with the nail, they're the prime medium for infusing extra strengthening and nourishing vitamins into nails.

 

Pictured above are base coats from Essie, OPI, and Orly. To see the details of those and a couple more, see the next pages. »