What Can I Use As A Base Coat For Nails?

Deciding on how you should paint your nails can be confusing sometimes. Do you want to apply a base coat but don't already have one lying around? Well, we've done some digging and have a few good alternatives to share with you. Let's check this out.

If you don't have a base coat but want your nails to look like you've used one, there are plenty of good alternatives. Some of our favorites include:

  • Plain white nail polish
  • A nail dehydrator
  • Nail primer
  • Polish remover

As we begin, we will cover all things base coats and tag some helpful related products. Whether you've never tried using a base coat before or ran out of your current one, we're here to offer some help. With that said, let's get right into this post!

A woman putting nail lacquer on her nails at the salon, What Can I Use As A Base Coat For Nails?

What Does A Base Coat Do?

A base coat essentially preps your nails for polish while also hydrating them. Using a base coat is important for keeping your nails in good shape and preventing your polish from staining them.

Base coats also create a clear barrier between your nails and polish, which will give them an even brighter, smoother look. Although many people forget this step, using a base coat can make nail painting easier and even help your polish last longer.

A manicurist applying a base coat on her clients nails

Do I Need A Base Coat?

No, you don't necessarily need to use a base coat when painting your nails. Although doing this can benefit your natural nails and your polish, a base coat is not required.

With that said, we do recommend using a base coat if your nail polish is darker to prevent potential staining.

What Can I Use Instead Of A Base Coat?

If you don't already have a base coat, there are some good alternatives. As we mentioned, white nail polish, a nail dehydrator, nail primer, and even polish remover can prepare your nails similarly to a regular base coat.

Of course, these aren't the same, but you should still see your polish apply easier/smoother than not using anything at all. On that note, white nail polish is your best bet if you want to make your color pop, so keep that in mind.

Can You Use Topcoat As A Base Coat?

Yes, you can try using a topcoat in place of a base coat. Considering that these products are very similar, you shouldn't run into major issues with a topcoat under your nail polish.

Topcoats have a higher concentration of film formers than a base coat, which essentially helps to protect your nails from chipping and damage. So although you can replace your base coat with a topcoat, you don't want to try it the other way around.

How Many Base Coats Should I Apply?

A selective focus photo of a nail polish on top of a small block of wood

Generally, you won't need to apply more than one base coat. Using multiple base coats can cause your nails to become uneven, which in turn will mess up your nail polish.

A good general rule to follow is one base coat, two coats of polish, and two coats of topcoat for a proper manicure. Of course, if you need an extra coat of polish, that is fine, but try to stick with this formula for the rest of your products.

How Long Should You Let Your Base Coat Dry?

You want to let your base coat dry for about two minutes. Typically, this is more than enough time for your product to settle onto your nails and become dry enough to be painted over.

With that said, you want to make sure your base coat is dry to the touch before applying polish, so test your nails beforehand.

Is Base Coat Or Topcoat More Important?

Between the two, a base coat is more important than a topcoat. Considering that the purpose of a base coat is to protect and hydrate fingernails, not using one can make a difference.

According to Doctor Kavita Mariwalla, wearing a base coat is arguably more impactful than a topcoat because it works to protect your natural nails. She also explains how your nails can weaken and stain without a base coat, while a topcoat does not affect nail health and is purely aesthetic.

Is A Base Coat The Same As Clear Nail Polish?

Although they are both transparent, a base coat is not the same thing as clear nail polish. Most importantly, a base coat will have a different set of ingredients than clear polish, which can impact how well it adheres to your natural nails.

A base coat is also much thicker than clear polish, which is why it is ideal for leveling uneven nails and creating a good "base" for your nail polish. Of course, that's not to say your manicure is ruined if you use clear polish instead of a base coat, but it probably won't turn out as good or last as long.

Should A Base Coat Feel Sticky?

A manicurist applying a base coating on her clients nails

It is common for a base coat to feel sticky. Although this shouldn't be too intense, a base coat is supposed to be somewhat tacky, so your nail polish can easily adhere to it.

Even once dry, you might still feel a bit of stickiness on your nails after applying a base coat, but it should go away once you paint on your regular polish.

Should I Use Nail Polish Remover Before A Base Coat?

Yes! It's a very good idea to use a bit of polish remover on your nails before applying a base coat. Like we said earlier, you can also use nail polish remover instead of a base coat to prep your nails, so using the two together is even better.

To do this, you want to soak a cotton ball in polish remover and let it set on your nails for about 15-20 seconds. After that, wipe it off using a dry cotton ball/round, and your nails should feel smooth and ready for polish.

What Is A Peel-Off Base Coat?

A peel-off base coat is essentially a layer of adhesive that doesn't require chemicals to remove. This coating creates a removable membrane that separates your nails and polish, which you can peel off when you're ready for a new color.

Unlike a regular base coat, a peel-off option allows you to paint your nails without using chemicals or harsh products to remove them, which is perfect for anyone with sensitive skin and nails.

How Do You Make A Peel-Off Base Coat At Home?

Making a peel-off base coat at home is very easy. To start, you want to gather your materials: PVA glue and an empty nail polish bottle.

Next, you're going to pour your glue (Polyvinyl acetate) into the bottle and shake it well. Once you do that, apply your base coat, and you're ready for polish!

Books by Hand PH Neutral PVA Adhesive

This PVA glue is water-soluble, dries clear, has a neutral pH, and comes in a four-ounce bottle.

View this PVA glue on Amazon here.

What Does A Nail Dehydrator Do?

A focused photo of a woman finger nails

Nail dehydrator removes grease from your nails and makes them easier for your polish to adhere to. As we mentioned, you can also use a dehydrator on your nails if you run out of base coat, so it makes for a great alternative option.

That said, you won't need to use a dehydrator unless you're doing gel or acrylic nails, so don't worry about getting it for regular polish.

Should I Use Nail Primer Before Polish?

Similar to a base coat, you can also apply a nail primer before using polish. Although you don't have to use both of these at the same time, you can use nail primer as a substitution for a base coat if needed.

Ejiubas Nail Prep Dehydrator and Primer

This set of dehydrator and primer give your nails a professional finish, work with acrylic and gel, are cruelty-free, and come in a 15-milliliter bottle.

See these products on Amazon here.

Does Base Coat Make Nail Polish Last Longer?

Using a base coat will help to keep your nail polish looking better for longer. Although many people think the topcoat is the most critical part of protecting a manicure, applying a base coat is also important.

Like we covered earlier, the purpose of a base coat is to strengthen and smooth out your nails, which will help your polish stay on better. So if you want your polish to stay on for more than a few days, we recommend applying a base coat beforehand.

To Wrap It Up

Whether you are new to nail painting or consider yourself a pro, using a base coat is essential. There are a few good base coat alternatives, including white polish, a nail dehydrator, nail primer, or even polish remover.

When using a base coat or alternative product, you want to make sure your nails are clean and smooth before applying your nail polish. It's also crucial to let your base coat dry for about two minutes before you paint, so keep that in mind.

Regardless, remember to use a base coat before your next manicure, and don't be afraid to switch to a peel-off option if you have sensitive skin/nails.

Before you go, be sure to check out these helpful related nail posts below!

Does Nail Polish Expire? [Even If Left Unopened?]

How Long Does A Pedicure Take? [By Type Of Pedicure]

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