What's Hot in Gel Base and Top Coats?

Top Coats and Base Coats: How Are They Different?

A manicure without a base or top coat lacks strength and resistance to wear. Although they aren’t necessarily visible, both base coats and top coats are essential to any quality manicure. Despite misconceptions that the two are similar, Light Elegance president Jim McConnell explains that they actually have very different properties: A base coat is typically a thin building gel with a high strength and toughness to allow for polish or a gel system to perform better on the fingernail, while top coats are usually formulated for scratch-resistance and gloss.

“The two products don’t have very much overlap in the resins and other chemicals, and they have different raw materials in the formulations for their specific functions,” McConnell says. “If the base coat is not tough, it will crack and the enhancement system will fail. Top coats must be able to withstand chores like cooking and cleaning, which are damaging to the fingernails.” 

McConnel suggests testing out both top coats and base coats before buying in bulk, especially for two-in-one types of products: “It is very possible that a great all-in-one product will be found on the market,” he says, “but always test it thoroughly and make certain you are pleased with its performance.”

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