Base Coat vs Top Coat & Are They Really Necessary

Base Coat vs Top Coat
Base Coat vs Top Coat

Base Coats and Top Coats are essential for making your nail polish long-lasting and durable. And without using them your nail polish will be prone to peeling and chipping.

Base Coat Vs Top Coat Which One is More Important

This is a tough question since both of these products in my opinion are essential. Added to that the answer will also vary with each brand of nail polish used.

Since some brands of polishes can function without a base coat because they adhere really well to your nail plate.

Whilst other brands can work without a top coat because when they dry they become very durable and are naturally glossy.

But from my experience, most regular nail polishes need a top coat because most nail polishes are made to adhere somewhat well to your nail plate so a base coat acts like extra glue.

Now, most nail polishes tend to need extra protection in the form of a top coat to prevent them from being damaged easily.

Benefits of a Top Coat

1- Protect Your Nail Polish

The main function of a Top Coat is to act as a shield for your nail polish and allow them to consistently upkeep their original appearance for a longer period of time. Citation.

How Does a Top Coat Protect Your Nail Polish

Top Coats protect your nails by:

1- Creating a tough hardened layer over your nail polish protecting it from being easily scratched and damaged.

2- Keeping water from getting into direct contact with your nail polish. Excess exposure to water can speed up the rate at which your nail polish peel. Citation.

Another pro tip is to use a glove when doing the dishes, this prevents too much water and soap from getting onto your nail polish.

3- Most Top Coats contain UV shielded chemicals to protect your nail polish from sunlight. UV light from sunlight can actually cause the colored dyes in your nail polish to decompose which can cause the color of your polish to get dull. Citation.

2- Add a Glossy Sheen to Your Nail Polish

Top Coats create a nice long-lasting glossy sheen over your nail polish.

Now there are matte top coats that will protect your nails but won’t give you that glossy effect if you don’t want it.

If you are looking for a top coat that won’t give you that sheen, I recommend OPI Matte Top Coat you can click here to see the price of it on Amazon.

3- Prevents Your Nail Polish From Being Stained Easily

Some brands of top coat are stain-resistant meaning that they can protect your nail polish from being stained easily.

This is because they form a solid and smooth layer which makes it harder for stains to stick onto.

Stain resistant top coat are useful if you are dealing with a lot of colored dyes like when you are cooking.

4- Help Your Nail Polish Dry Faster

There are Quick Drying Top Coats which can be applied to your nail polish before they are completely dried.

And these types of Top Coats actually speed up the rate at which your nail polish dry. Citation.

OPI Top Coat is a pretty good all-rounded top coat, it is stain resistant and fast drying. You can click here to see the current price of it on Amazon.

Benefits of a Base Coat

1- Makes Your Nail Polish Adhere To Nail Plate

The main function of a base coat is to make your nail polish adhere firmly to your nails. This helps to prevent peeling and chipping.

Base Coats do this by acting like glue or double-sided sticky tape. They contain a high amount of sticky resins which bond firmly with your nail plates and then create a sticky surface over your nails for your nail polish to anchor onto.

2- Prevent Your Natural Nails From Getting Stained

Some nail polishes contain a huge amount of dyes and pigments which if applied directly over your nails can cause your nails to be stained. The most common culprit are bright red nail polish.

Added to that frequent usage of nail polishes over your bare nails will cause your nails to develop an unnatural yellow tinge.

Now a base coat acts like a dense buffer layer which prevents the pigments in your nail polish from reaching your nail plate and thus prevents them from being stained.

Seche has a great base coat that will prevent your nail polish from stained and do a really good job at making your nail polish adhere to your nails.

You can click to see the current price Of Seche Base Coat on Amazon.

3- Makes Your Nail Polish Flexible

Base Coats tend to contain high levels of plasticizers which makes them more flexible than regular nail polish.

This flexibility allows them to bend with your natural nails rather than breaking and also if your nails are naturally brittle base coats can help to reinforce your nails and not allow to break or chip easily. Citation.

4- Nourish Your Nails

Some base coats can contain nutrients such as proteins and vitamins which can help to hydrate and encourage healthy and strong nails.

And they also help to repair weak and damaged nails which is important if you do acrylic or gel application often. Citation.

5– Cover Over any Cracks and Damages on your nails.

When your nails are damaged and filled with cracks and ridges, your nail polish won’t look smooth and even.

Base Coat can help to solve this problem by filling these ridges and allowing your nail polish to look smooth and even.

There are also special base coats that are made extra thick to act as ridge fillers.


Barielle has a great nourishing base coat that will make your cracked up nails look and feel smoother and they also help to nourish your nails with protein and other nutrients to encourage stronger and healthier nails.

You can click here to see the price of Barielle Hydrating Base Coat on Amazon.

Though the drawback of using a Base Coat like this is that it would make your manicures look extra thick.

5- Can Make Removal Easier

There are some base coats that can allow you to remove your nail polish without having to use any acetone – these are peel-off base coats.

I use peel off base coats a lot because they are water-based making them very safe to use and they allow me to easily remove my manicures without using acetone,

You see acetone tends to dry your nails and cuticles out and overtime it can make your nails more weak and brittle

Now there are some drawbacks with using peel-off base coats, you can click here to learn more about them.

Citation and References

Nail Polish 101

Things That Are Unexpectedly Ruining Your Manicure

The Chemistry of Nail Polish

Top Coat Patent

Non-yellowing rapid drying nail polish top-coat Compositions Patent

Do you need a base coat before you apply nail polish