Nail Primer vs Base Coat: Which One is Best for Your Manicure?

In case you don’t know, Nail primers and Base coat are the perfect duo to unlock a perfect manicure and its longevity. The only problem is that it can be confusing to know when to use each product. We’ll delve into each product and explain how you can use them to achieve the perfect manicure.

What is a Nail Primer?

Nail Primer
Nail Primer

Primers are used to help your acrylics adhere to the nail plate. Nail Primers are generally used to treat the surface of your nails to make your acrylic or nail polish adhere better to your nail plates. If you are an acrylic lover, nail primers should be your best friend.

Nail primers usually work by dehydrating your nails to remove moisture and oil on the surface of your nails and allowing your acrylics or polish to adhere better. They also work by creating microscopic tears and holes on your nail plates allowing the acrylics and polishes to grip onto the nails better.

Regardless of what industry it’s used in, a primer is designed as a first coat to help a product adhere to another surface. Primers are used in many industries where the application of a coating is involved, including car paint, wall paint, grout, woodwork and makeup.

Primer in the nail industry is designed to help the enhancement adhere to the nail plate. There are two types of primer that you will come across in the nail industry: acid-free and acid-based.

An acid-free primer acts like a double-sided sticky tape and an acid-based primer makes tiny microscopic holes in the surface of the nail plate.

What is a Base Coat?

Nail base and top coat
Nail base and top coat

A Base Coat is a type of clear coat of polish applied to your nails to make your gel or regular nail polish last longer. Base Coats are very similar to regular nail polishes just because they contain plasticizers to make them more flexible and higher levels of cellulose to make them adhere better.

Base coats are more flexible due to the high levels of plasticizers in them meaning you can bend your natural nails easily without worrying about nail polish chipping when you have applied a base coat. 

Nail Primer vs Base Coat

Nail primer and base coat differ because they are made with different ingredients, they both work differently and are both used with different products.

Both primers and base coats are used so that the nail polish will last longer on the nail’s surface. Nail primers make the surface of your nails adhesive so that the nail or gel polish, when applied, will stick neatly on them.

It acts exactly like glue and covers the nails to hold the acrylics onto them. So, before you get to applying nail polish, coat a layer of nail primer on the nail’s surface. Then the acrylic will get a better grip.

Nail Primers vs Base Coat: Ingredients 

Nail primers contain MAA (Methacrylic Acid). The acid-free ones are not entirely devoid of acid. They have at least some traces of milder acid.

A base coat consists of a host of chemicals like solvents, plasticize, and other ingredients like protein, Vitamin E, and calcium. They all work together to provide nourishment and improve the health of your nails. 

Some primer ingredients will do the job of adhesiveness while other ingredients are responsible for a lovely fragrance.

One disadvantage of using acid-based primers is that they stick to the surface of the nails.

Note: it’s advisable to apply less primer. Too much application of acid primer in particular can lead to chemical nail damage and eventually thin the nail plate. 

Can You Use Nail Primer and a Base Coat Together?

Using a nail primer and a base coat will allow your gel polish or regular polishes to be extremely durable. However, it is not advisable to use both unless your nails are prone to chipping and lifting.

You might want to check out: How Long Does it Take For Nail Polish to Dry? (And Tips to Make it Dry Faster)