Skin care, despite the recent popularity of multi-tasking BB and CC creams which claim to do everything, is still pretty specialized. It's not hard to end up with an eight-step skin care routine these days. And now the beauty industry is applying that same personalized approach to nail care.
Instead of just a generic base coat and top coat (or those base/top combos that were popular for a while) you can now choose nail treatments based on your unique nail needs. The descriptions of these products even read like your favorite skin potions--phrases like "anti-aging" and "color correcting" are thrown around pretty liberally. Powerhouse brands like Essie and Deborah Lippmann are leading the charge, and there are dozens of offerings.
From nail cleanser prep coats (that's the step that comes before the base coat) to new top coat forumulations, click through for every conceivable type of potion you never knew you needed on your nails.
This is a step that people (OK, me) often skip, but it could be the most important step of the entire manicure. It's really important to remove every last trace of oil from your nail beds prior to polishing, or polish will chip more quickly. Manicurist Jin Soon Choi recommends swiping alcohol (used in tons of salons) or non-acetone nail polish remover across your nail beds to clean them. Using non-acetone is important, because removers with acetone can be too drying and damaging. In fact, Choi said that alcohol is probably slightly less drying than even non-acetone removers.
Or you could buy one of these conveniently pre-bottled prep coats. This step is absolutely essential for doing gel manicures, and with the popularity of at-home gel sets, there's been a subsequent increase in DIY nail cleansers launched to make your life easier. Just swipe it on, let it evaporate, and you're left with completely matte nails ready to be polished:
• OPI Chip Skip Manicure Prep Coat, $12.95
• Sephora X Nail Cleanser, launches in September as a part of Sephora's huge new polish collection
If we're using skin care analogies here, the base coat is like the serum in your nail care routine. This is where you can really get a lot of specialization. Nails thin? Peeling? Ridged? Aging? There's a base coat for that.
• Essie Ridge Filling Base Coat, $8: This is part of Essie's anti-aging line. It fills in ridges, masks discoloration, and makes your nails look as young as Miley Cyrus's.
• Jin Soon Power Coat, $18: The ingredients read like what you get during a fancy facial: Biotin, diamond particles, a keratin derivative, and "phycocoral" which is a type of our new fave beauty ingredient, seaweed.
• Butter London Nail Foundation Flawless Base Coat, $19: The company calls this matte base coat "makeup for your nails," and it does the same thing a foundation does for your sking--makes everything seem flawless. It hides chips, discoloration, and ridges.
• Julep 911 Repair System, $21: A two-part system which consists of Nail Therapy, which is packed with vitamins for nail strengthening, and a cuticle oil "to enhance the natural growth process."
• Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Smooth & Strong Base Coat, $7.99: A no-nonsense formula that smooths the surface of nails.
• Essie Grow Stronger Base Coat, $8: Contains argan oil and algae extract to prevent breakage.
Top coats have one job--to keep your polish from chipping, but they're getting a little fancy these days. The two biggest trends in top coats now are polar opposites: A high shine, gel-like finish or totally matte. Your choice.
SHINY • Dior Gel Top Coat, $24: My favorite, which I've been using all summer long.
• Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, $9.95: Not as shiny as the first two, but this one is the gold standard in top coats.
MATTE • Dolce & Gabbana The Top Lacquer Matte Nail Coat, $24: Dolce & Gabbana has you covered both ways, because they also released a super shiny top coat in addition to this one. • Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Ultra Matte Top Coat, $10
• OPI Matte Top Coat, $9