Do You Always Wear a Base Coat with Your Nail Polish?

Published in: Just For Fun, Nails

essie first base base coat

Base coats, like the Essie First Base ($8) shown above, act like primer for nail polish, ensuring better adhesion of polish to the nail. Not only does that mean a more uniform application of color, but it means a longer lasting mani or pedi that’s slower to chip.


Other reasons to use a base coat

  1. Base coats with certain proteins, Aloe vera, vitamin E and/or calcium can strengthen nails that are brittle and dry and reduce splitting and peeling.
  2. Dark nail polishes like blues, blacks and bright reds can stain the nail and seep into the nail bed. Applying a base coat may prevent that from happening.
  3. A base coat provides a hint of shine, and when used properly (base coat, color coat, top coat), the shine lasts even longer.

Sounds good, right?

Then why don’t I use one all the time, LOL? I wish I could say that I always take the time to apply a base coat, but I don’t. It’s a step I’ll skip if I’m feeling lazy or rushed, which is about half the time.

As a matter of fact, before my visit to the Lippmann Nail Bar last year, where I got a rundown on base coats from an accomplished polish pro, I used to skip the step entirely.

When you do your nails, do you always take the time to use a base coat?

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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  1. Beth says:

    I use base coats religiously. I’ve found that they make a lot of difference with the durability of my nail polish, especially when coupled with the right topcoat. They mean I can get away with cheap nailpolish and have it last as long as the expensive kind 🙂

  2. YadiQ says:

    hi k

    i always use a base coat – its been trial and error but an inexpensive one i use is by loreal – it really extends the life of polish – i have been reccomended this essie one before as well i will have to try it!

  3. Marissa says:

    I always use a base coat because I found that dark polishes stained my fingernails yellow. Soo not pretty. Using a base coat has minimized the staining, thank goodness.

  4. Alison says:

    The majority of the time I use a base coat, i like essies protein base and Chanel’s protective base. However if I am in a rush and want my nails to look groomed I just slap one coat of either essie mademoiselle or chanel ballerina on and go without a base. I always wear a base if I’m using a dark colour and always on my pedi’s as they will be on for longer than a mani.

    The step I skip most is top coat as I have found that most make my polish chip off quicker and essie and chanel polishes which i use most of the time have amazing glossy shine on their own.

  5. TGIF Karen! Yes, I always wear a base coat, even when swatching. My nails are super sensitive to peeling and they tend to yellow or darken fast. My favorite base coat right now is Essie’s Sensitivity, which is great for fragile nails and it’s also sticky which helps polish adhere better. 🙂

    Vampy Varnish´s last blog post..Zoya La-Di-Da Collection Summer 2009

    • Karen says:

      Hi Vampy Varnish,

      TGIF indeed!

      I haven’t tried Essie’s Sensitivity but it sounds like a nice base coat. My nails darken fast, too, so I will probably look into it. 🙂

  6. Rowena says:

    Always! Even if I don’t top coat it, I will always base coat it cos I find most polishes do stain.

    I like Creative Nail Designs Sticky Base!

    Rowena´s last blog post..Yukibear.JPG

  7. lily says:

    I use a base coat by Orly 🙂 i think it has rubberized bonding or whatever, and the difference between non-base and base is amazing!
    I did my nails over 2 weeks ago and my nail colors aren’t even 1/4 chipped whereas before after like a week my nails would be done for.

    lily´s last blog post..Busy. Life.

  8. Jacks says:

    Ooh I always use a base coat when giving myself a manicure. I used to use that Essie one but I ran out pretty quickly and it’s a bit pricey here in Canada, so I just use Sally Hansen’s Nailgrowth Miracle. It works really well! I pair it with SH Insta-Dri (Canada doesn’t have Seche Vite either aaagh) My manis usually last for about a week or so without major chips.

    Hope you’re having a great long weekend Karen!

  9. Alison says:

    Chanels protective base is really easy to use, it looks quite strange ‘cos its light green in the bottle but it goes on smoothly, it’s brilliant under Chanel polishes (they usually chip quickly on me with other base coats) with this coat they last around 3-4 days without chipping. Plus it’s one of the only base coats i’ve used that actually prevents all staining.

  10. rasilla says:

    Sigh…I should…especially seeing as my nails keep getting stained. but I just cant bother with it.
    I don’t want to feed my addiction to polish, and buy it, even if its a treatment rather than a polish.

    rasilla´s last blog post..slightly stressing…

  11. Kate & Zena says:

    Always. If I don’t, my nails tend to stain.

  12. penelope says:

    yes sir. i use a base coat and a top coat. not only will it slide on smoothly when you apply your color nail polish but it will leave that nice glossy effect at the end! 🙂

  13. Rovie says:

    I always do because I like to use dark nail polish & I’m scared of my nails yellowing. I’ll also have to try the Essie base coat sometime soon.

  14. Anastasia says:

    Yep… but I cheat and use the Quick Dry one by Sally Hansen so it doesn’t slow down my mani too much. My pedis last forever with that base coat, and it will make a mani last about a week.


  15. Stacie says:

    I’ve started doing it, and honestly I’m yet to see a difference regarding chipping. And that’s using OPI brand everything. Interestingly, I slapped on a couple of coats of Covergirl polish (Boundless Color in violet vision) without base coat or top coat, and it lasted longer than any other polish I’ve used without chipping–about a week. My OPI polish chips the next day, with or without base and top coat. I haven’t experienced staining, so I can’t attest to that aspect.

  16. Jeanne says:

    I’ll use basecoats on my fingers, but not on my toes! Maybe it’s because my fingers are out for everyone to see, but my toes aren’t as much. Of course, now that it’s spring, the toes are coming out…!

    Jeanne´s last blog post..Top 10 Cute Cheap Spring Dress Picks!

  17. Solé says:

    I absolutely always use a base coat and a high shine top coat. I find that taking these steps give my manicure a professional look, which I really appreciate since I can’t afford to get my nails done. I’m all about the DIY!

    The base coat cushions the color, making it look nice and thick without see-through streaks. Also, it protects your nails from staining. If you paint your nails red without a base coat you are going to get yellow nails, which ends up looking like fungus. Ew.

    If I’m in a rush and don’t have time for a full-on manicure, I just use one coat of clear polish. Or I do my nails when I do have a lot of time, and just plan ahead as to what color I’m going to want my nails if I go out.

  18. Dao says:

    I definitely use base coat all the time to keep my nails from staining. Also, it makes the nail polish last a whole lot longer. The one I use is from Avon, which is ~$3 when it’s on sale 😉

  19. Mishel says:

    i don’t use a base coat, i guess i should b/c alot of times i paint my nails a plum colour, and it leaves a stain for a few days after i take it off.

    i always, ALWAYS use a super shiny top coat though. gives u that “just got a manicure” look at home =)

    got any fun easter plans karen?

  20. Nadrah says:

    I only recently started using a base coat – I use orly’s Top 2 Bottom, which is a top coat and base coat in one. I use it to prevent staining. SOmetimes I’ll even use my nail strengthener(by Sally Hansen) as a base if I feel like protecting my nails from breaking. I always wanted to do experiments like julieg on youtube – you know, one hand with and the other without base coat – to see if it really makes a difference.

  21. Vanessa says:

    I always apply a base coat when wearing nail polish. I don’t wear nail polish as often now as I used to, but I keep one anyways just in case. To me, base coats like UDPP – a primer that helps the colour stay longer (and in my case, apply more smoothly).

  22. Catherine says:

    I try to always use a base coat because it really extends the life of my polish. It really bothers me when my polish starts chipping, so it’s a must for me. I also find that it helps my color go on a lot more even, and saves me frustration when I’m doing my nails, lol.

    Catherine´s last blog post..PSA: L’Occitane Grape line 50% off!!!

  23. Kendall says:

    Eh, not really. I mean, if you’re a total preppy freak, like me, you’ll do anything to keep your nails from chipping. But I always, always, always use a top coat. It’s shiny too!

  24. Tatiana says:

    i always use base coat and a top coat even if i’m really lazy…This because i can see that the nailpolish look better and last longer if i use them 😉

    Tatiana´s last blog post..Nylon vs ….

  25. Tess says:

    I always use a basecoat. It helps to keep the deep nail polish colors from staining your nails.

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