Best Nail Top & Base Coats Reviewed and Tested

Nails coats or in other terms, top and base coats are two important manicure tools you should use. And seeing as both of them are complementary to each other, you can only boost effectiveness when you use both together (with no side effects). Because without the other, one can only last for so long. In fact, a perfect comparison for this is building a house.

You need a good foundation (base coats) after which you can then start the construction of a big fine house (top coats and others) on top of it. Doing this ensures longevity and a gorgeous glossy look/design for your manicure.

So, on that front, we’ve compiled a list of the best nail top and base coats that will give you the aforementioned results, yours is to choose which one you prefer.

Our Top 3 Picks

Seche Vite Top Coat
  • Seche Vite Top Coat
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Fast Dry
  • Price: See Here
CND Vinylux Top Coat
  • CND Vinylux Top Coat
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Long Lasting
  • Price: See Here
Essie to Go
  • Essie to Go
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easy Peel
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Nail Top & Base Coats

On this list, the first 6 are going to be the best top coats we reviewed and the next six will be the best base tops.

1. Seche Vite Dry Fast

1. Seche Vite Dry Fast
The number one best top nail coat we've reviewed is the Seche Vite Top Nail Coat. It has a classy look that is perfect for people who want that extra shine (and most people want it). We particularly loved it! It also doesn't stain and its application is simple (with its functional brush) since all you have to do is apply it thickly on your nail and it dries up fast.

The device as we noticed secures your colour polish and offers chip-resistance which adds a little to the lifespan. Though, it doesn't mean the longevity couldn't have been better since it starts chipping after a few days.
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Features and Specifications

Fast dry
A single durable coating
Does not stain (yellow)

Price

Exceptional bang for buck. The product is easily the best in terms of functions and pricing since you're getting much more than you bargained for.

Conclusion

Regardless of the budget, the Seche Vite Top Nail Coat is a must-have for anyone with a want for a glossy and creamy look. Also, the product is highly powerful as it comfortably fulfills the most important part of its job - which is aesthetics.
Pros

Fast dry

Doesn't stain

Exceptional value for money

Easy application

Cons

Lifespan could have been better

2. CND Vinylux

2. CND Vinylux
A very close rival to the throne of the best top nail coat is the CND Vinylux Weekly Top Coat. As the second best nail coat on this list, it certainly delivers exceptional results. And that is regardless of the polish you use it with. In terms of speed, expect a few minutes of drying time which although isn't close to the Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat, is still fast. Nonetheless, due to the enhancements in nail durability and chip resistance, longevity is an area where it stays unbeaten.
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Features and Specifications

High durability
Chip resistance
Fast drying time

Price

If the CND Vinylux Weekly Top Coat had a mediocre lifespan, the price would have been good. But now as the lifespan is remarkable, the product has exceptional value for money.

Conclusion

If you're the type who doesn't like fussing about manicure because you simply lack the time, then you'll love the CND Vinylux Weekly Top Coat because of its incredible lifespan. And that's taking into consideration the fact that it lacks lustre on the level of other base coat products on this list.
Pros

Incredible lifespan

Fast drying time

Remarkable value for money

Eye-catching

Cons

It lacks lustre

3. Essie Good To Go

3. Essie Good To Go
The Essie Good To Go Top Coat is just beautiful. With easy application and a glossy and creamy aftereffect, it has what it takes to compete with the previous products on this list. It dries remarkably fast and is highly versatile despite any claim. Also, one thing you'll love about the coat is that it enhances nail durability, which makes it highly chip resistant. This makes it similar to the previous CND product on this list in terms of lifespan.
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Features and Specifications

Drying time is short
High durability
Chip resistance
Gloss

Price

Price for sheer usability makes excellent value for money in regards to the Essie Good To Go Top Coat. Though its value is not as good as the previous two. But for that kind of blended features, it's a win-win situation for anyone considering it.

Conclusion

This particular essie product has blended the most noticeable features of the previous two items on this list together. Short time for drying and sheer lifespan makes it one of the best top nail coat product money can buy.
Pros

Highly durable nails

Glossy and creamy

Chip resistance

Good value for money

Cons

Slightly chips in some cases

4. CND Shellac Original

4. CND Shellac Original
Combining class, and gloss, with durability, and chip resistance led to the existence of the CND Shellac Original Top Coat. This easy to apply top coat product is specifically built to complement any and all manicure foundation you've built. The way it dries quickly at the expense of none of its functions is one advantage you won't be able to do without after some use.

Now, history says durability and chip resistance leads to excellent lifespan. And this product itself is no exception as it has a remarkable lifespan of up to two weeks of classy glossy look.
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Features and Specifications

Quick drying
Excellent lifespan
Negligible smell

Price

The value for money could definitely be better, especially when you take into consideration the previous products. Though, do note that the product is highly functional for that price. But we'll mention it once again - it's not the best we've seen in terms of pricing and value.

Conclusion

Provided you have a flexible budget and you simply prefer the CND Shellac Original Top Coat to other nail top coats on this list, then you should certainly give it a buy. Its classy and creamy look will definitely make up for its somewhat hefty price.
Pros

Excellent lifespan

Neutral scent

Quick drying

Aesthetically sound

Cons

Value for money is underwhelming

5. OPI

5. OPI
OPI as a manufacturer has a credible history of producing beauty care items that guarantee great user experience. And with credible history comes useful experience. The result is the OPI Top Coat Nail Polish which is a direct competitor to the Serche top coat in regards to its aesthetically pleasing results. The product upon application quickly dries and offers different benefits. And the most remarkable one that we particularly tested was the protection it offers. Your nails won't chip, split or break and colour polish will last longer too.
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Features and Specifications

Short drying time
High-durability
Chip-resistance
Gloss

Price

It has a good balance of value and price. Albeit when you consider it to the other products on this list, the value could be better. Consequently, users on a mildly strict budget might be turned off by this.

Conclusion

The OPI Top Coat Nail Polish is a product with big claims of great user experience, and after we tested it, they weren't bluffing. So, if you need effectiveness and beauty inside a bottle, pick this because you won't go wrong.
Pros

Short drying time

Glossy

Nail strengthener

Easy application

Cons

Strong scent

6. Sally Hansen

6. Sally Hansen
If you love a top coat that gives a smooth hard finish and a highly glossy/creamy look, then you'll adore the Sally Hansen Big Kwik Dry Top Nail Coat. It can be used for increased colour punch (quality) which also helps in retaining the colour longer.

Just a minimal application of the liquid gives high durability and anti-chip capabilities that will comfortably last you a reasonable time. Also, you have to buy it to witness its fast drying time. Which comes at nil expense to any of the aforementioned benefits.
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Features and Specifications

Dries super fast
Resists chipping
High gloss finish
Increases colour quality

Price

Reliability coupled with many functions gives a value that is a direct competitor with other more expensive top coats products. Or in other terms, we can say the Sally Hansen Big Kwik Dry Top Nail Coat has exceptional value for money.

Conclusion

Regardless if you're on a budget or not, the Sally Hansen Big Kwik Dry Top Nail Coat is a perfect fit for your needs. Upon application, it provides your nails with durability which ensures good lifespan and also a glossy aftereffect that is on par with other more expensive top coat products.
Pros

Super fast drying

Exceptional value for money

Strong gloss

Makes colours more radiant

Cons

Chip-resistance is good but could be better

7. UNT Peelable

7. UNT Peelable
The foundation or better yet known as nail base coats are the ones you build your top coats and polish upon. And the number one product that is suitable for this is the UNT Ready Peelable Base Coat. The product upon application quickly gets to work by hardening the nails against chips, filling in the nail ridges, and preventing discolouration.

Hardening leads to your nails' longevity, filling ridges gives a smooth appearance and feel, and prevention of discolouration is simply for aesthetics. Also, after usage, you'll notice that it can be easily and completely peeled off together with a coloured nail polish and top coat.
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Features and Specifications

Smoothens nail ridges
Enhances polish lifespan
Prevention of discolouration
Easily peeled off with polish

Price

The value for money could be better but luckily its reliability/functions don't disappoint. As a result of that, it should perfectly fit into your repertoire of beauty products. Provided, of course, you're not on a strict budget.

Conclusion

The UNT Ready Peelable Base Coat is number one for a reason, and that's mostly due to its reliability. The product claims to be a nail strengthener which can be easily peeled off after a top coat and polish have been used. And it remarkably didn't fail us in that regard, and hence why we advise you to try it out too.
Pros

Ensures good lifespan for polish

Prevents discolouration

Easily peeled off

Smoothens nail ridges

Drying time is very short

Cons

Value for money is ok but could be better

8. CND Base

8. CND Base
The CND Shellac Base Coat is an excellent choice after the UNT Peelable Base Coat. One reason why that is so is the fact that it comes from a reputable company that has made it their goal to ensure good user experience through their products. The item is a good base coat that needs UV light for application - which might be inconvenient for some people. Also, you'll find the base coat strong, solid, and ready to be peeled off with both the polish and top coat at a moment's notice. Though, do bear in mind that this doesn't mean it's weak, just that it's at your pace/leisure.
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Features and Specifications

Easily peeled
Prevents discolouration
Ensures longevity by maintaining polish and top coat

Price

It is the most expensive base coat product on this list. So, it has excellent value but the money could have been lesser—which makes it unsuitable for individuals on a budget (though, this varies from one person to another). Luckily, its sheer effectiveness slightly makes up for its high price, so you're getting what you bargained for—but not more.

Conclusion

It's a runner-up for the first position and doesn't fail in proving that point. If you want a good base coat that can be easily peeled off (with the polish) whenever you want and is also very effective, then the CND Shellac Base Coat is definitely satisfactory. Though, it's not meant for individuals on a budget.
Pros

Prevents discolouration

Nail strengthener due to its ingredients

Easily removed with the polish

Good lifespan

Cons

Underwhelming value for money

9. Orly

9. Orly
The Orly Nail Bonder Nail Coat is like a magnet. That's the only word that partially represents its capabilities as a base coat. A slight amount(which dries quickly) of it on your nails and it selfishly attracts coloured nail polish/top coat and doesn't let go. Perfect, since it ensures good lifespan for coloured nail polish. Also, the product doesn't cause any discolouration and in fact either remains crystal clear or maintains the colour of the nail polish or lacquer. Now, couple all of the above features with the product's chip-resistance and you get a vague idea why we find its prowess remarkable.
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Features and Specifications

Fast drying time
Magnet-like attraction
Chip-resistance
Long lasting nails

Price

Price and value are definitely top-notch, which makes this product perfect for both individuals on a budget and those who are not.

Conclusion

It has good value for money and its capabilities as a base coat have been thoroughly tested. Fortunately, it passed most of our tests like chip-resistance, and discolouration. Unfortunately, the one test it doesn't pass is smoothening (nail ridges)—which for the sake of aesthetics and user experience is highly important. Regardless, it's still an excellent base coat that you can invest in.
Pros

Chip-resistant

Enhances manicure lifespan

Fast drying time

No discolouration

Cons

Weak ridge filling prowess

10. Essie

10. Essie
Its application is simple enough, just apply one time before a nail polish and then apply once again to finish the look with a glossy aftereffect (though it might take some time to dry). The Essie nail polish base coat is an all-in-one product that can be used as both a base and top coat. Though we prefer its use as a base coat rather than a top coat since products like the CND Shellac Original Top Coat have a much better sheen.

Also, for the sake of conveniency—easy removal of the polish/top coat is another feature you'll love about the item and when you combine it with the Seche Vite Top Nail Coat, the result is stunning.
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Features and Specifications

All-in-one top and base coats
Polish durability (good lifespan)
Gloss effects
Smoothen nails
Easy removal of polish and top coat

Price

The product sacrifices none of its functions at that price. In fact, it's a perfect balance of value and cost which is better than the previous two items on this list.

Conclusion

The essie nail polish base coat is an excellent base coat for anyone looking for a mix of price and reliability. So, provided you have a slightly flexible budget (depends on the individual), you should buy this item (essie base coat).
Pros

Can be used as both a top and base coat

Good value for money

Ensures good lifespan by strengthening nails

Easy removal of polish/top coat

Cons

Long drying time

Honorable Mentions:

11. Seche Clear

11. Seche Clear
The Seche Clear Base Coat like its counterpart, the Seche Top Coat delivered great results. What you get is a powerful base coat that easily strengthens nail for a manicure and can afterward be removed together with the polish and top coat. Also, after application of a coloured nail polish, no discolouration will occur (because it betrays its function if it does). Rather, it remains crystal clear and maintains nail polish colour.

Now, if you want the best results, you should combine it with its Serche top coat counterpart. The result is aesthetically appealing, to say the least. Nonetheless, do keep in mind that this doesn't mean it can't be used with other top coats.
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Features and Specifications

Non-yellowing
Prepares nail for polish/top coats
Easily peeled off with polish
Enhanced manicure longevity

Price

Buying the Seche Clear Base Coat is purchasing much more than you bargained for. Remarkable value for money as it has a repertoire of functions that if used with any of the top coats in the previous list will produce appealing results.

Conclusion

Regardless of your budget, this is a must-have in your beauty tools. Since its price sacrifices none of its powerful functions. In fact, you get more than you bargain for—if you consider the prices of the other base coats on this list.
Pros

Easy removal of the polish

Remarkable value for money

Strengthens nails for good lifespan

Neutral smell

No discolouration

Dries quickly

Cons

Doesn't fill nail ridges

12. CND

12. CND
The CND Sticky Base Coat is the last base coat product on this list, but it is no less effective in any way or form when you compare it with the others. It provides a level of liquid consistency that even more expensive products will have a hard time managing. Not too thin nor too thick, just a perfect balance of both.

The liquid is sticky and is used to prevent nail chipping which increases polish lifespan. In regard of this, it's actually the best product on this list that you can buy for that purpose (chipping). Though this for some reason doesn't translate into an exceptionally long lifespan. An excellent base coat for further application of top coat and coloured nail polish is what you get if you give this device a buy.
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Features and Specifications

Prevents chipping
Sticky base
Easy top coat and polish removal
No discolouration

Price

Ironical that this is the last item on this list while being the number one budget device. If you buy the CND Sticky Base Coat, you're getting much more than you bargained for.

Conclusion

If you want minimal cost and high functionality, then you'll love the CND Sticky Base Coat. Its consistency, price, chip-resistance, and others help in adding up as an incentive to try out its claims (which we did), and the results were worthwhile.
Pros

Chip resistance ensures polish lifespan

Easy removal of topcoat/polish

Bang for buck is exceptional

Dries quickly

Cons

Alters certain nail polish colours

Benefits of Using Nail Top & Base Coats

The benefits of each coat (top and base) are individually appealing – but the cumulative factor at work which serves as a catalyst for boosting overall effectiveness is why you should use both of them. So, in this regard—we recommend the use of the items above (nail top and base coats), presuming you find any/all of the benefits below aesthetically appealing.

Nail Top Coat

Chip-resistance

Using a highly effective nail top coat (the ones above) seals the polish to your nails and also serve to protect the polish from chipping or wearing at the edges. Consequently, your coloured polish lasts longer  which will be beneficial to individuals who are constantly in a hurry and can’t expend time on such tasks. Provided you use it correctly, there have been recorded cases of more than a week in some individuals.

Glossy Look

Definitely, one of the most important uses of top coats is for aesthetics. A slight application of an excellent top coat product (especially the Serche top coat) results in nails with eye-catching sheen that you’ll love especially if you’re into nail art (professional). Now, combine this with any coloured polish (whether dull or not) and the aftereffect results in a gorgeous and clean look.

Smoothness

A professional or not, mistakes occur where your application of coloured polish will be uneven and the base coats (excluding the ones above) won’t be able to accommodate that error. Using a good top coat will smoothen everything (bumps) out until you’re left with a posh look and feel for your manicure.

Nail Base Coat

Nutrition

Base coats have ingredients like protein, vitamin E, moisturizers and calcium which are nutrients that your nails eagerly feast upon for growth and health purposes. These nutrients also strengthen the nails and help prevent them from breaking and splitting which is vital for nail art (regardless if you’re a professional or not).

Prevents Discolouration

On the occurrence of your nails’ contact with coloured polish (without base coats), a yellowish colour/tint will be the result of the application. In this regard, base coats are foundations that prevent coloured nail polish from touching your natural nails. But like always, this is only possible if the nail base coat you’re using is functional enough to pull this off.

Maintenance

A good base coat, if appropriately used will maintain the colour of any polish you choose. Also, they completely stick to your natural nails for easy removal of the polish and top coat which for the sake of convenience and maintenance (filling nail ridges) is important. In summary, using a nail base coat is another way that you can increase polish lifespan.

Now the cumulative effects are felt when both nail top and base coats work in tandem with each other to boost overall efficacy. This simply means that every benefit iterated above will be increased (in terms of effects), and the results, most of the time are remarkable.

Usage Recommendation

You might have experience in using top and base nails coats or you’re simply new to all that it entails. Regardless of your reason, it is our job (and we take it seriously) to build informative recommendations on the correct manner of usage—irrespective of the type of product(s) that is being reviewed by us.

So, after perusing the two lists above and selecting one out of each, the following instructions are your guide to getting all the aforementioned benefits. Though do keep in mind that this information can also be found on the product itself, and we’re repeating it for the sake of consistency.

Top Coat for Nails

After using a base coat and a coloured polish, apply a single thick coat (any of the top coats mentioned above) on top of the nail in a consistent/even manner. The top coat (especially the ones above) will dry in a few minutes and you’re set for the day.

Base Coat for Nails

nail top price

Prior to the application of any coloured polish to your nail, thickly apply one to two coats of base coat in an even manner. It will take a few minutes for the base coat to dry. After which you can apply the coloured polish.

Also, for coats like the essie nail polish base coat that can be used as both a top and base coat: you should first apply the coat as a base coat on your nail, followed by a coloured polish of your choice and then one to two applications of the essie base coat to produce a glossy finish.

Maintenance Tips

To maximize the effects of any product, you must take a few steps to preserve/maintain the product lest it spoils, loses effectiveness or even causes complications. So, on that front, keep both the top and base coats in cool dry places. Keep away from flame and children so as to avoid any complication.

Also, avoid inhaling the coats and keep them away from the skin. Keep the coats tightly sealed and avoid any/all contact of theirs with sunlight. Lastly, avoid using the product if it starts feeling clumpy, too thick or the texture simply feels wrong—because at that point the ingredients might be counter-productive.

Criteria for Evaluation

Below are the conditions and methods that we implemented in our goal to find the best-tested top and base coats that will suit the needs/wants of various individuals regardless of their physiological differences.

Side Effects

Although they’re few, side effects due to nail top and base coats are still existent. And one thing they all have in common is the ingredients used in the production of the coats. As a result of the use of these questionable ingredients, side effects might be caused by the ingredients or the ingredients themselves will pose a risk.

OPI Envy Nail Strengthener for one is an excellent base coat which would have been the number one base coat on our list but unfortunately, it has formaldehyde as an ingredient and this itself can cause severe illnesses like cancer. To summarize, we take particular care to inspect all of our products and if one (like the OPI Nail Strengthener) has any ingredient that may pose a risk (allergy or not), we promptly eject them from our list.

Price and Value

As already known and very much discussed, a heavy price tag doesn’t always equal value. You could buy a product that’s expensive and its value will be a joke compared to a product half its price. To avoid this, we’ve tested each and every product on this list and we’ve thusly evaluated their value.

From there, with our system—we measured if their value is equal to their price tag and they were. In fact, there are some products above that their value beats their price – hands down. On that note, do keep in mind that the products above with “underwhelming value for money” is only so—when compared to the other products on this list.

User Reviews

We checked the feedback of each and every user of the products above in order to confirm whether or not our analysis is correct. Why do we do this you might ask. It’s simply to aid convenience and keep consistency. You can’t go through all the user reviews/feedbacks online because it’s inconvenient (tedious and time-consuming).

We, on the other hand, can and the results as you can see are above. Consistency, on the other hand, is like repetition. Where in the long run, it makes perfect our buying guides and reviews.

Safety

Top and base coats are used on nails, and other than the risks explained in the side effects section, they’re generally safe. Nonetheless, safety is the most vital part of any product, and should you be skeptical/hesitant in any way or form—you can consult your dermatologist to confirm whether or not any of the ingredients will pose a problem to you.

Also, due to the importance of safety, we will repeat this; keep all top and base coats away from children and flame in order to avoid complications. For more information on this, kindly visit our Maintenance Tips section.

Ingredients and Their Effectiveness

The ingredients used by the manufacturers are high-quality and also optimized for effectiveness. None of them are in any way or form harmful to users and can be used with other products with no side effects occurring. In fact, by using these ingredients in the production of the coats above, manufacturers have ensured satisfactory results on the part of users.

Manufacturers Reputation

One of the reasons why top manufacturers are still in business is reputation. Even if they make a bad/defective product, users will still buy it and keep on using it until it spoils. Like so, we too only pick the best products made from reputable/credible companies so as to instill confidence in users since they trust them.

Nevertheless, we’re also the medium that their products pass through. And if their product regardless of their reputation is defective, we exclude it from our list. In that regard, this guide itself is made up of only the best top and base nail coats that you can invest in.

Product Testing

Every company boasts of one feature or the other. But that doesn’t mean it works. And that’s exactly why we test all products we come across. We test their claims which include side effects, reliability, speed, power etcetera. Where the ones that make it through our rigorous tests will afterward still be graded by using the other methods listed here. If they also make it all that, you’ll see them on this list, but if they don’t, well—the answer is obvious.

FAQs

Q. Are there any harmful ingredients in the products above?

A. No, there are not. Ingredients such as toluene and formaldehyde have been removed to prevent complications or risks.

Q. How to apply base coat nail polish?

A. For more information on this, kindly visit our Usage Recommendations section or consult your dermatologist/personal beauty caregiver.

Q. Best top and base coat nail polish?

A. All of the items on this list are the best that you can invest both your money and time in. Though, do keep in mind that there’s no best of anything, so pick the ones that best suit your needs.

Q. Difference between top and base coat nail polish?

A. A top nail coat polish is used for nail smoothness, nail chip-resistance, and aesthetics (glossy look). While a base coat is used for prevention of nail discolouration, nutrition, and maintenance.

Q. Which is the cheapest base coat on this list?

Seche Clear Base Coat

A. The Seche Clear Base Coat is the cheapest base coat polish on this list. And while we’re on this topic, the CND Shellac Base Coat is the most expensive.

Q. Can you use a top coat as base coat nail polish?

A. The only item on this list that can be used both as a top and base coat is the essie nail polish base coat. For more information on this, kindly visit our Best Nail Base Coat section.

Q. Best non-yellowing base coat nail polish?

A. There is no best product for this but all of the base coats on this list fully have this feature.

Q. Where to buy top and base nail coats?

A. Any cosmetics store near you should have these products, but we recommend Amazon as an e-commerce website due to some of its usefulness (like reviews and good pricing)

Q. What color are the top and base coats after application?

A. Both of them should be crystal clear, but in the case of top coats, it might have a slight tint (in terms of colours) and glossy look.