My Nail Routine Arsenal: Base Coats

I'm not claiming to be an expert in nail application and care, but people do often ask me what I use.  This is what I've found works for me (keep in mind that I haven't done extensive head-to-head tests or anything, my picks are just from trial-and-error plus experience).

For tacky-style base coats, I like CND Stickey.  It dries fast and doesn't stain my nails.  I can get anywhere from 2 to 8 days with this, depending on the polish.  I've also tried Orly Bonder, which did stain and, I felt, didn't keep my polish adhering to the nail as long.  Stickey is my go-to base coat.

NailTek Foundation II is my favorite ridge-filling base coat.  I don't have much experience using these formulas because I don't have prominent ridges, so this is just the first brand I've tried.  It does not dry as quickly as Stickey, but its dry time isn't anything stress over.  It also dries down to a satiny matte finish, so I've seen people use this to franken their own matte polishes, or - before matte topcoats became so popular - to mattify normal-finish polishes.  I use my ridge-filling base coat under CND Stickey when I know a polish has a tendency to stain or when I'm applying a matte nail polish, which shows the slightest contours of the nail.  However, using this method under a matte polish adds to its dry time (which otherwise is super speedy); base coats need to be completely dry before a matte polish is applied over them or they will not apply as smoothly.  

A base coat is a necessity for me to prevent staining and to lengthen wear-time (this is especially crucial when using a matte polish, which chips more quickly).

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