Of course, it’s important to dry out nails a bit before applying polish, and it’s true that the only real way to not F up a manicure is to refrain from doing any meaningful work with one’s hands. As I am not a lady of leisure, I need to use my hands. That’s where a good base coat comes in.
A good base coat can grab polish and hold it better, or it can strengthen nails so that they don’t bend or break, or it can just stick to the nail better so that the whole manicure doesn’t flake away. If you’re using a cheap, flimsy base coat (or worse yet—NO base coat, which please don’t tell me that), any of these four would be a serious upgrade.
Bonder by Orly—It’s got a nifty rubberized texture and grips nails like they’re the last helicopter out of Saigon. Seriously amazeballs. ($10, Ulta)
Turn Back Time Rejuvenating Base Coat by Deborah Lippmann—Sort of like a foundation for your nail—tiny particles blur imperfections and make bare nails look sensational. ($18, Lippmanncollection.com)
Essie Grow Faster Protecting Treatment Base Coat—Nothing can actually make nails grow faster (except being pregnant), but this base coat strengthens nails so they can grow longer. ($8, Essie.com)
Poshe Nail Strengthening Treatment Base Coat—Fortifies nails and creates a smooth canvas for polish to glide on. ($7.85, Amazon.com)