The Good, The Bad and The Meh - Base Coat Comparison

A couple of weeks ago I did a top coat comparison post and after finishing it thought, "Well, I have to do a base coat one too, of course." Not unlike my relationship with top coats, I've date around like nobody's business when it comes to base coats. As a result I have tried a lot of different ones. I debated whether or not to add strengthening base coats to this comparison but decided that I would since most us have or are using them on a fairly regular basis. Like my top coat comparison this is a round up of all the base coats I have used over the last few years. Read more after the jump.

Sally Hansen Hard As Nails - Once upon a time many years ago (not that many) there was a young girl who didn't know that when you painted your nails you needed a base coat.  When she learned of these "base coats"...well, let's just say it changed her life. She marched right out to her local Walgreens and purchased Sally Hansen Hard As Nails. Now as a seasoned nail polish lover I can say that Sally Hansen Hard As Nails is okay. It's not bad, it's not great. It's just okay. I did find that it protected my nails well against staining and was fairly good in protecting against chips. It's marketed as a nail hardener/base coat but works much better as a base coat. My nails were not "hard as nails" when I used this. 

Grade: C 

OPI Natural Nail Base Coat - This was my first dip into higher end brands of base coats and I used this one for a good long while. I have nothing particularly bad to say about this one. I have nothing fabulous to say about it either. It's okay with staining (though not so great when the color is say an OPI Vampy or a blue). Chipping? Well, that honestly depends on the health of your nails with this one. I am prone to dry brittle nails and when my nails are having a "moment" this base coat was simply no good to me. Polish fell off like paint chips.

Grade: C

Seche Rebuild - I discovered Seche Rebuild some years ago. It is probably the base coat that I have used for the longest amount of time. It does in fact work - great at guarding against chipping (though not so great with protecting nails from staining) and my nails did in fact get stronger and thicker over time. I think I simply just used this for too long. After awhile my nails just kind became immune to it  (kind of like who you use a conditioner for years and then all of a sudden your hair simply stops feeling as soft and silky as it used to). I don't really have anything bad to say about this one. In fact of all the Seche nail products I've tried it's probably the one I like most.  However if you only use 3 Free products then avoid this one as it is not 3 Free.

Grade - B (deducted points for the staining issues and for not being 3 Free)

Orly Bonder- A friend on mine recommended Orly Bonder to me when I was looking for something different to try. I know so many people who love this base coat and swear by it. Alas, for me it was a no go. It worked wonderfully for about a month until I started to get peelies.  I actually thought that my nails were just really dry and I needed to make sure I was moisturizing my hands more. But after further moisturizing and still the peelies persisted I started to think about what I was using that was different. And this was the only change in my polish regimen. Once I stopped using it; pretso - the peelies went bye bye. I have heard a few other bloggers talk about getting peelies with this base coat as well. I simply think it depends on  your nails' interaction with it if this happens. Other than that issue I actually really liked Bonder. Polish stayed on well with no chips and I didn't get any bad staining from dark colors when I used it. I say give it a go and see how your nails respond. 

Grade: B

Sinful Colors Base Coat - I grabbed this base coat one day at Walgreens when I was in a pinch and had run out of what I was using at the time. I was bit taken aback by the price ($3.99) which isn't expensive but more than the normal $1.99 Sinful Colors price point. I was pleasantly surprised by this base coat. It has a milky color to it that dries clear and shiny. I used this during a challenge and so I didn't have a chance to do a wear test but it guarded well against staining. I'm actually considering buying another bottle of this and using it as a back up base coat. If you're looking for something cheap and easy  to find this may be the one for you.

Grade: A

Essie Protein Base Coat - I was in the market for a strengthening base coat and happened upon this one online. I used it for approximately two months (which I've been told is the longest you should use strengthening base coats) and I loved it. My nails felt stronger, I had no peeling and it guarded well against staining. I ran out of this and keep forgetting to buy more. This retails for about $8 which is the same as a bottle of Essie polish. Well worth it.

Grade: A+

Seche Clear Base Coat - If you read my Top Coat comparison post then you know about my turbulent relationship with the Seche Vite Top Coat. I dated it's sister Seche Clear Base Coat for a little while as well. Equally as frustrating. But why was I surprised by this? Seche Clear didn't do much to help against chipping for me, though it did help with staining. A friend swears by this base coat and it works wonderfully for her. So I guess it's my nails that don't get along with this base coat. It also has that annoying habit that Seche Vite has of turning to goop halfway through the bottle. I got tired of using thinner every time I did my nails. And like it's buddies Seche Vite and Seche Restore in not 3 Free.

Grade: D 

Nail Tek Foundation II Base Coat - I first used this earlier this year and then ran out and kept meaning to buy more (I do this a lot!). Finally got around to ordering more about a month ago. This is a great option if you're looking for a strengthening base coat. The finish on this one is pretty interesting. It's milky and dries to a matte finish. Almost powdery but without any residue. The Quirky 31 Day Challenge kind of wreaked havoc on my nails and I had two major breaks in a row. This has been helping whip them back into shape. It helps guard against peeling and fills in any ridges you may have as well. I will probably use this for a few more weeks and then take a break and go back to it. 

Grade: A

Poshe Nail Strengthening Base Coat - So I know I totally talked crap about Poshe top coat in my last post. And I stand by that. But...I actually really like the base coat! I've been using it conjunction with Nail Tekk Foundation II for the past month or so and I love it. Great wear time and no stains. I'm more than halfway through the bottle and I have not experienced any of the bubbling that I had with the top coat. 

Grade: A

So what are your go-to base coats? Is there anything that you would recommend (or recommend against) that I haven't tried yet?