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The Best Base Coat Nail Polishes of 2024

Kaitlyn Neese
Written by Ashley Neese

For a professional-looking manicure at home, start with a quality base coat. A base coat of nail polish serves to protect your nails from discoloration caused by dark nail polish as well as provide a smooth surface for the nail polish to adhere. Picking the right base coat will help you finish a DIY manicure. We compared popular brands and found our favorite, OPI Base Coat, which paints on easy and dries fast.

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Buying Guide: The Best Base Coat Nail Polish

Base coats, like foundation or primer, may not be used by everyone, but they can help extend the life of your manicure and give it a smoother appearance. Here are a few things to consider when buying:

Long-lasting Finish

A good base coat nail polish should have a long-lasting finish and be able to resist chipping. Look for a polish formulated with high-quality ingredients and advanced technology to help it adhere to the nail’s surface for a longer period. To get an idea of how the product works, you can go through product reviews from customers who have already used the product.

Quality Ingredients

Whether applying a base coat, color polish, or a top coat, it’s always good to choose a product that’s made with natural, toxin-free ingredients that won’t harm your nails or skin. Check the label for any harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene, which can be potentially damaging to your health if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Easy to Apply

A base coat should be quick to apply. You don't have to be as careful about applying neat edge lines. Make sure the nail brush is easy to use and spreads evenly across the surface of your nails.

Fast Drying Time

It’s important to look for a formula with a quick drying time, so you don’t have to wait too long between coats when applying your base coat nail polish. Many brands now offer polishes with “quick dry” features that dry within minutes, so you can move on to your next step without having to wait around too long.

Base Coat + Top Coat Options

Look for polishes that can be used as a base coat and a top coat. Many formulas now come with both features so you can use them to accomplish both layers.

Comparing the Best Base Coat Nail Polishes of 2024


OPI Base Coat Nail Polish


  • Natural color looks almost invisible
  • Prevents yellowing or staining nails
  • Gives a natural, glossy finish


  • The bottle’s cap may come off

If you’re looking for a natural product that maintains the lustrous shine of your nails, get the OPI base coat nail polish. This unique base coat is formulated with the classic nail essentials and helps to prevent staining of the natural nails. It also helps promote a longer-lasting manicure, so you don’t have to worry about having to redo your nails often. The formula is lightweight and moisturizing, which keeps your nails looking naturally healthy without feeling sticky.

This base coat nail polish also has a slightly glossy finish that helps give your nails an extra shine. Not only does this it serve as a protective layer for your natural nails, but it also serves as a great foundation for any nail polish color you choose. With its smooth and creamy consistency, the product spreads evenly and easily onto the nails, helping to create a perfectly even canvas of coverage. With all-natural formula, travel-friendly packaging, and an affordable price tag, this base coat nail polish is out top choice. 


Sally Hansen Base Coat Nail Polish


  • Ideal for strong, chip-resistant manicures
  • Works as both base and top coat
  • Vitamin B5 nourishes your nails


  • Base coat dries slowly

The Sally Hansen base coat nail polish is a revolutionary product that provides an all-in-one solution for beautifying the nails. Its special formula consists of Panthenol, which works to make the nails’ surface smoother and helps in easier application of the nail color. Additionally, it serves as a protective two-in-one base and top coat, strengthening and shielding the nails with a hard, chip-resistant finish.

The nail strengthener contains two key ingredients— nylon and pro-vitamin B5—which are combined together to create a powerful solution that prevents chipping and peeling. It also helps to keep the manicure looking flawless for much longer by better adhering the nail polish to the nails. The brush tip allows for even distribution of the product onto the nails, ensuring every nail looks well-groomed and neat. With its specialized formula, special ingredients, and easy application process, this product is unbeatable when it comes to beautifying your nails.


Essie Base Coat Nail Polish


  • Strengthens nails to resist breakage
  • Light and pleasant scent
  • Provides natural-looking finish


  • Has a limited shelf life

The Essie base coat nail polish is a clear nail polish designed to strengthen and harden nails. It contains biotin, which helps boost the strength of your nails to make them more resistant to peeling, chipping, and breakage. You can use it as a base coat for your manicure along with other products for an inclusive nail-care solution.

This product is vegan and made with no animal-derived ingredients or animal testing, so you can rest easy knowing that no animals were harmed during the manufacturing process. This base coat also pairs well with the Essie apricot cuticle oil for maximum protection and great results. You can even mix it with other nail polishes to create custom colors and effects. With its strength-boosting formula and easy application process, this is truly a staple for anyone looking for better nails.


UNT Base Coat Nail Polish


  • Made with toxin-free ingredients
  • Safe, odor-free formula
  • Deters nail discoloration


  • Consistency may change quickly

UNT base coat nail polish is an innovative nail care product designed to make it easier for nail art or glitter lovers to remove even the toughest polishes. It doesn’t contain any of the harmful chemicals traditionally found in nail care products, making it an ideal choice for sensitive skin. In addition to helping remove tough polishes, this product also boasts a nourishing formula that helps protect and strengthen nails with every use.

This base coat nail polish is easy to apply with the brush applicator and is perfect for beginners learning to do nail art. The clear base helps you precisely apply the nail color, and the non-glue-based design keeps your nail art where you want it. Additionally, it also works as a protective coating around your nails to create a smooth surface in order to prevent messes and get cleaner-looking nails every time. Due to its quick-drying properties, it prevents smudges and locks in color, ensuring vibrant colors stay put.


Orly Base Coat Nail Polish


  • Long-lasting, high-gloss finish
  • Skin-friendly, alcohol-free formula
  • Comes in beautiful packaging


  • May not dry fast enough for some

The Orly base coat nail polish is a must-have product for anybody who loves a professional-looking manicure. This base coat is part of the spa collection and has been formulated with a professional salon-quality formula that provides an even and smooth finish. If you want to try nail art, using this pick is the key to achieving the perfect manicure every time from the comfort of your home.

The amazing formula helps the polish adhere and wear for longer, resulting in beautiful, chip-resistant nails. It's extremely gentle on the nails, making it ideal for those who have naturally thin or brittle nails. The sheer, buildable coverage also plays a part in promoting healthier nail growth—it doesn’t require multiple coats and helps protect the nail bed from damage caused by polish chipping and peeling. Additionally, this product dries quickly and is not difficult to remove when a new shape or color change is needed.

People Also Ask

  • Q: Is there a difference between a base coat and regular nail polish?

    A:Yes! A base coat is a clear layer designed to provide protection between nails and nail polish. It helps protect your nails from staining and damage caused by nail polishes that are not specifically designed for that purpose. The added protection provided by the base coat will also help strengthen your natural nails over time. Regular nail polish, on the other hand, is designed to provide color and shine but not protection.

  • Q: How long does a base coat last?

    A:A base coat can last anywhere from one to two weeks, depending on how often you use it and how well it was applied. To make it last longer, avoid using hand sanitizer or getting them wet too often. Also, use cuticle oil regularly to keep your nails nourished to prevent chipping.

  • Q: Should I use a clear or colored base coat?

    A:It's usually better to use a clear base coat because it will not interfere with any of the other colors you're using in your manicure or pedicure. However, some people prefer to use colored base coats so they can add an extra dimension of color to their nails.

  • Q: What’s the correct way of applying a base coat nail polish?

    A:Always apply base coat nail polish on clean nails as dirt and old nail paint might cause an uneven coat. You should clean any remaining polish from your nail bed to prevent uneven surfaces after applying the nail color. Additionally, remember to use a base coat before applying your nail paint to prevent fading and chipping of your nails. Let your color brush drip first to ensure durability. After that, gently run the brush over your nails, and don’t apply more than three strokes on each nail. Wait for at least two minutes to let it dry completely. You may also speed up the process by dipping your nails in chilly water.

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Kaitlyn Neese

By Ashley Neese

Hi, I'm Ashley Neese and I graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.  I'm passionate about all things beauty, fashion, and wellness — specifically skin care, makeup, and natural health. I love writing about things that help people feel like their best selves, whether it's finding their perfect lip color or a supplement to alleviate anxiety. In my free time, I am usually reading a romantic comedy or playing with my two dogs.

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