I firmly believe that it's the foundation and finishing touches on a manicure that really make the difference, and not necessarily the polish in between. I don't turn my nose up at polishes that only cost a dollar because with the right base coat and top coat they last just as long (and sometimes longer!) than my super top-of-the-line luxury high end $$$ nail polish. It's all about body chemistry! Once you find the right base coat and top coat for you, doing manicures and impressive #nailart at home is easy, super fun, and long lasting. Today I'm sharing my top five fundamental polishing products that make my at-home manicures a breeze.
Take it Off: Zoya Remove+I have tried other nail polish removers but I always come back to this one! Zoya Remove+ is an acetone nail polish remover with glycerin (the 'plus' part, but I guess that could technically extend to the lovely purple shade and scent, too). The glycerin makes this remover a tad bit gentler and less drying for your hands and nails. It's also THE BOMB DOT COM in terms of speed; acetone is quick, too, but this doesn't give me those super dry chalky white fingers like acetone can. I also highly recommend the flipper, pump-top refillable bottle that the 8oz comes in - you can get a similar pump-top bottle at a beauty store but the Zoya one is very high quality IMO.
Perfect Base: butterLondon Nail Foundation Flawless BasecoatI am such a fangirl for the butterLondon Nail Foundation Flawless Basecoat!! First, it dries matte so you know when your base coat is really truly ready to polish over which helps wear time. Second, it is a light peach-beige color (‘nude’ish for me) which is great because you can tell exactly where you've applied your base coat (I have totally missed a swipe before with a clear base coat). The lightly tinted color of this base coat also cuts down on VNL (visible nail line) and helps me skip a coat of polish sometimes. Imagine all of your 4-5 coaters are now magically 3-4 coaters?! Heavenly! It is expensive but I think the time saved during polishing and the longer wear it provides me on manicures is totally worth it. At 17.5ml it does last a wee bit longer than a typical base coat and I don’t mind re-buying it approximately once a year. Below I'm wearing one coat of the bL basecoat.
Now you'll polish your nails! I use the method Lacquerized illustrated (read her post here!), but I usually start my first stroke on the far left, then do one on the far right side, and then the final stroke down the middle.
Clean Up: Pure Acetone + e.l.f. Concealer BrushI get my Beauty Secrets Pure Acetone from Sally Beauty because it's the best deal I've found but any pure acetone will do! I pour a little bit of acetone into the cap of the bottle and dip the e.l.f. Concealer Brush from Target into it to clean up any stray polish and perfect 'the gap’ I made when polishing. I love having a tiny gap because I think it looks much nicer to have a smooth shape when your polish starts to grow out vs. an irregular polish line at the cuticle end that looks all jagged. The gap also allows you to full encapsulate your polish with quick dry top coat so that it's sealed in really well.
Top it Off: Quick Dry Top CoatThere are so many excellent options for quick dry top coat - thank goodness! I've enjoyed using Seche Vite, HK Girl, Cult Nails Wicked Fast, and the Color Club top coat. I’m always sort of looking for that perfect blend of lightning speed dry time, super shiny finish, self-leveling, non-smearing, and the right price point for a top coat (because I go through it much MUCH faster than base coat) - i.e. a beautiful unicorn of a top coat.
Currently I’m using KBShimmer Clearly On Top and I really like the brush because it’s like a tiny OPI Pro-Wide (rectangular, flat) and that means less strokes and less chances to smear my nail art all over. BUT the KBShimmer Clearly on Top brush doesn’t quite reach the bottom of the bottle and so the last little bit is always left in there, unreachable :( I think next I’ll be trying Poshe since it has a few less chemicals than some fast dry top coats!
Do you use any of these products or do you have something better?! Please share your holy grail polishing products in the comments!
Disclosure: I bought all the things mentioned! If you'd like to know more about my policies, please see my disclosure page.