This week the British Nail Bloggers are discussing our favourite top and base coats. It's an interesting topic for me, because I'm always looking for the next best thing to use! I also have my favourites pretty well worked out. I use several different products, depending on the circumstances, so this is quite an easy post for me!
Covering The Bases
Gelous. It's brilliant. I found out about this from Enigmatic Rambles last Spring, and it's my most used 'proper' base coat (more on that later!). It stays quite thick when it dries, so if I'm not wearing polish I usually pop 2 coats of this on, and my nails feel well-protected from knocks and breaks. It doesn't have strengthening properties in itself, but it does make my nails stronger when it's on, and it's also pretty good at smoothing out imperfections on my nails.
OPI Nail Envy. My personal preference is the Matte version. I tend to use this for a couple of weeks if my nails start breaking - I'm not sure if it does really strengthen my nails or not, but it certainly doesn't seem to do them any harm. I don't use it all the time, as it can make my nails a bit brittle, but it does stay in the main rotation. The matte finish also makes it a great base coat - polish seems to 'grip' onto it very well.
So those are my 'proper' base coats, for 'proper' manicures. However I also spend a fair bit of time swatching, trying polishes on, and sometimes I do challenge nails that don't stay on very long! In those cases I don't really want to 'waste' my good base coats, so I have a collection of polishes, mostly Sally Hansen, that I get from market stalls or Fragrance Direct. They're usually about £2 each, they have all kinds of strenghtening claims that I don't believe but again, can't hurt, and they suit my purposes very well! This one pictured is actually a mix of five or six base coats - once they get near the bottom and hard to reach, I tend to mix them all together (with some thinner), and if there's no smoke or bubbling, I assume they're fine to use on my nails! Again, they aren't for extended wear.
Topping It Off
Seche Vite. How predictable! There is a reason that it's so popular, and that is because it rocks! I use this all the time (I've had to invest in the big bottles!), for plain polish and nail art. I especially like it for nail art, because it has this wonderful smoothing, sealing in effect, especially if the art is freehand and a little bumpy! If I could only have one top coat, it would be this one.
Color Club. This was initially just the clear polish that came with the CC sets, and was left to one side! However once I read that people were using it, and that it was good, I gave it a try and I'm very glad I did! I think of it as a slightly weaker SV - a little thinner, and thinner on the nail, but very fast drying. I usually use this as a top coat over stamping, as it doesn't smudge, and you don't need a thick coat to smooth out any bumps. I also use it as a top coat over plain polish, if I plan to put something else on top - glitter in a clear base, for example.
Huh? Gelous again?! Yes. I use this in a 'top coat system' when I'm wearing glitter, especially my beloved shaped glitter. Because it's quite thick when dry, it gives a great smoothing layer over bumpy glitters. It does not dry quickly at all, however, so I do need a fast drying top coat on top (usually SV).
From the same makers, In A Hurry. This is terrible for nail art, it smudges horrendously, but for plain polish, or as a barrier coat, this stuff dries in seconds. Honestly the fastest drying top coat I've ever used. This bottle is nearly finished, and I haven't decided if I'll replace it or not, but I felt it was still worth mentioning, because yikes. Super fast drying.
Finally, George at Asda Matte top coat. I do enjoy a matte finish, and this is just about the only one I use, for nail art, plain polish, and hiding the fact that I have 2 coats of Gelous on at work! It only comes in a tiny bottle (5ml), and it does get a bit thick towards the end, but like my SH base coats I tend to mix them together with a bit of thinner, to try and use the whole bottle. I wait until these are on offer in Asda (£1 instead of £1.75), then stock up! I don't think I'll ever run out!
So those are my favourites. I do have various other bits and pieces that I've used in the past, but these are the polishes that I keep coming back to.
Now check out what everyone else uses!