From Base to Top: The Differences Between Coats

Base Coats and Top Coats are two essential products needed 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

Manicurists often use both a base coat and a top coat during the manicure process. The base coat is a clear, tacky product that is brushed onto the nails before the application of nail polish. Its purpose is to provide a barrier between nail polish pigments and the fingernails and to hold the nail polish to the nail.

The top coat, on the other hand, is brushed onto the polished nail as a way of sealing in the color and strengthening the nail. The use of a base coat and a top coat during a manicure helps to prevent the discoloration of fingernails and discourages the cracking and chipping of the nail color as well as the nail itself.

Typically, each layer of nail product and color is applied in turn and allowed to dry between applications. A top coat serves several different purposes in nail grooming. Not only does it protect nail polish against chipping, but it can also help strengthen the fingernail

You might want to check out: Nail Bonder vs Base Coat: Which is Right for Your Manicure?

Differences Between Base Coat and Top Coat

The main difference between the base coat and topcoat is the position of their application and the function of their application. Base coat is applied at the base of the nail polish, while topcoat is applied on top of the nail polish or nail art or any such additions made on the nails.

Base coatTop coat
Place of applicationBase coat is applied at the base of the nail polish.Top coat is applied at the top of the nail polish.
Thickness of layerBase coat is applied in a thicker layer.Top coat is applied in a thinner layer.
NatureBase coats are usually stickier to adhere to the proceeding layers of polish to the nails.Top coats are not as sticky as the base coat.
Drying TimeBase coats usually take longer time to dry.Top coats take shorter time to dry than base coats.

Most brands of polishes can function without a base coat because they adhere well to your nail plate. While other brands can work without a top coat because when they dry they become very durable and are naturally glossy.

However, 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 an extra glue. 

Base Coat vs Top Coat: How To Use

Here is how you should use base coats and topcoats.

1. First, you need to apply a base coat to your nails. A base coat will serve as a tape or anchor for your nail polish to last long.

If you don’t use a base coat first, there is a tendency that your nail polish will wear off after a few days.

2. Next, apply a generous amount of base coat on your nail plates. Ensure all areas are covered so that the nail polish will not stain through.

3. Let the base coat dry for a minute.

4. Then apply your desired nail polish. Make sure to do two nail polish coats for best results and the polish dry.

5. Once the nail polish is dry, apply the topcoat. Just like the way you applied the base coat. Topcoats will make your nail polish shiny and protected from water, light, UV, and other elements that could harm your nails.

6. Let your top coat dry.

You might want to check out: Nail Primer vs Base Coat: Which one is best for your manicure?

Can You Use Top Coat As Base Coat?

Yes, you can! Both top coats and base coats have similar formulas but it’s still advised to use a base coat. If you don’t have a base coat available then a good substitute would be a top coat.

The only difference is that base coats aren’t as glossy and thick as top coats. Both nail products have very different jobs. Base coats create a bond with your natural nail and with the polish on top.

They also form a protective layer to minimize staining from the color. While top coats create a smooth, ultra-shiny finish, and tend to be a little thicker in consistency.

Although, using a top coat as a base coat may not last as long as a regular manicure. The smooth finish could even make your polish chip or pop off more easily.

Note: Using a top coat as a base coat is possible. However, you need to remember that each type of coat has its use and purpose. Using them vice versa may disrupt their purpose and can harm your nails instead.