Does Nail Polish Last Longer With a Base Coat? (Explained)

When you have a great manicure, everything from your style to your mood is elevated. This is why it is frustrating to have your perfect polish chip away after only a few days of wear and tear.

While there are many ways to make your nail polish color last for a long time, a base coat is one step that many nail enthusiasts swear by.

Here’s Why Nail Polish Lasts Longer with a Base Coat:

A base coat can help to extend the life of your manicure. By creating a barrier between your nails and the polish, a base coat helps to prevent the polish from chipping and peeling. In addition, a base coat can also provide extra shine and protection from UV rays.

Does Nail Polish Require a Base Coat?

No official rule says you have to apply a base coat before going in with your nail polish color.

So, while you can jump right into the nail polish color of your choosing without having to apply and wait for a base coat to dry, it is highly recommended that you don’t skip this step.

The main reason you should always start your manicure with a smooth base coat is that it will help make your nail polish last a bit longer.

While you can file the surface of your nail to give it some grip, nothing works better than a base coat.


Another reason you shouldn’t skip out on the base coat step when giving yourself a nail refresher is that it creates a barrier between your nail and the polish. This will help to reduce the damage done to the nail, especially when it comes to staining.

Bolder nail polish colors, like neon, can often leave behind a tint on your nail, and this stain is not a pretty look. So, while it may seem time-consuming to use a base coat, especially if you are in a rush, it is worth the extra 10 minutes. 

Can You Paint Your Nails Without a Base Coat?

You might first notice that it takes a lot more polish coats to get your nails to that perfectly opaque look.

This is because when you apply nail polish to naked nails without a base coat, the pigments in the polish don’t have anything to stick to. This is why your first application may seem streaky and dull.

Another downside to not using a base coat when applying nail polish is that it will chip a lot quicker than it would have if you had first applied a base coat. However, it may not be for the reason you expect.

Many people think that nail polish will last longer to more you apply it, but this is the opposite.

The best way to make nail polish last longer isn’t to overload your nail with polish but to do focused, thin layers and allow the pigment to build up with each light coat.

Using a base coat as the first step, you are helping to polish to evenly apply to the nail and stick even when using light swipes.

Does Nail Polish Last Longer with a Base Coat Underneath?

Using a base coat as the first application in your manicure, your nail polish will last longer. This is mainly because a base coat allows for the polish to adhere to a sticky surface.

Think about it the same way you would imagine painting a room in your house. Without first priming your walls properly, you wouldn’t throw on a new color.

Pick Your Base Coat:

First, you also need to know what base coat to use to get your desired results.

There are so many different types of base coats, and each offers a little something extra special that will not only extend the life of your manicure but will also improve the overall health of your nails.

One way to improve your nail health is to use a nourishing base coat. A nourishing base coat will not only give you the perfect base for your nail polish but will nourish your cuticles and nail bed.

Every time you use your nourishing base coat, you make your nails healthier with each polish change.

Strengthen Your Nails:

If you find that no matter how hard you try, your nails still chip and break under the polish. This has little to do with the polish you are using, and everything about how brittle and weak your nails have become.

Damage is mainly caused by overusing nail tools like extensions, gel polish, and acrylic nails.

In this case, you want to reach for a strengthening base coat. Strengthening base coats have a special protein that makes your nails stronger and harder over time.

Strengthening your nails will help them grow faster and longer but will actually help make nail polish last longer because it has a stronger base to stick to.

Is a Base Coat or a Top Coat More Important?

While a base coat is meant to be your first line of defense on your nails, a top coat is a perfect way to seal all your hard work. A base coat is much more important to your nails than a top coat, so skip the top coat if you want to cut down on time. 

A base coat is more important than a top coat in that the main job of a base coat is to protect your nails, while a top coat is meant to protect the nail polish.

Without a healthy nail underneath all those coats of polish, you can expect your manicure to not only chip, but you can expect your nails to be in worse shape than they were before.

A base coat protects your nails from chipping, staining, and breakage. The most important thing to remember about the health of your nails is that they need to be strong to be healthy.

Using nail polish without a base coat can weaken your nails over time. This means you will see far more chipping and brittle tips, which is not a pretty sight.

How Else Can You Make Your Nail Polish Last Longer?

While applying a great base coat is at the top of the list when it comes to making your nail polish last longer, there are other steps that you should take to help your manicure be the best it can be.

The first thing you can do is to spend some time maintaining the health of your nail. You can do this by properly cleaning and grooming your nails first.

Use a cuticle pusher and trimmer to push back cuticles and remove any dead skin from the nail bed.

Next, apply healing nail oil to your nail beds and leave to soak in for up to 10 minutes. Nail oils will not only soften dead cuticles but will also nourish and strengthen your nail bed overall, which will make applying nail polish a breeze.

After the nail oil has had some time to absorb, wash your skin thoroughly with soap and water.

This may seem a little counterintuitive because you are washing away the moisturizing oil, but the oil has already been absorbed into the skin. Excess oil on the skin is one surefire way to make your nail polish slip off and chip.

This is because nail polish is not meant to be mixed with any oils and will not stick properly if there is any leftover on the nail.

Lastly, to make your nail polish last for a long time, use a gentle nail file to buff the surface of your nail. This step can be a little scary because your nails might look a mess after.

However, it is the best way to get your nails to look more professional when you are done. You are creating a rough base so the nail polish can have a good grip on your nails which is the key to a long-lasting manicure.

Reference Links

Do Base and Top Coats Work?

How To Make Nail Polish Last Longer? Expert Tips!

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