Confession: I’m a lifelong nail chewer and polish picker. It’s my natural response to stress, boredom, and basically any other negative emotion — and it makes growing my nails past my fingertips without breakage near impossible. As a beauty editor, my hands are up-close on camera frequently, so I turn to nail-strengthening base coats to deeply heal the damage that I’ve ashamedly done myself.
Whether you like it or not, you need to wear a base coat underneath nail polish to prevent staining and to protect your nail’s natural oils from polishes, according to New York City-based nail artist Miss Pop. If you’re already taking that added step at home, why not double task with a formula designed to harden and strengthen nails, too?
For that reason, we’ve rounded up the best nail-strengthening base coats (that can also be worn alone, but what fun is that?) based on editor testing and nail artist recommendations. Take it from Allure’s most habitual nail picker, they make the difference.