NAIL TOP AND BASE COATS

For the first time in our Beauty Bible Awards, we put top and base coats through their paces – because honestly, these are the real secret of a lasting, shiny finish. (In fact our advice, always, is to keep a manicure glossy and shielded against knocks by reapplying top coat every few days.) Pretty amazingly, the top base and (top) top coat are both all-natural, from a ‘rising star’ clean beauty brand which outpaced many ‘conventional’ entries to this category.

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GOLD and BEST NATURAL AWARD Kure Bazaar Dry Finish

We think it’s pretty remarkable when a natural brand outpaces longstanding nail names to scoop both Gold and Silver – but that’s just what happened here. It’s 85% natural, actually (making it the most natural nail polish in the UK, they tell us), with a formula based on (wait for it) wood pulp, potatoes, corn and cotton. You’d certainly never guess that from this smooth-to-apply, high-gloss top coat, which makes nail colours appear more vivid while protecting against peeling.

OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:

'I liked this mostly natural product, which gave a great shine to the nail finish and did protect the polish from chipping for about three to four days’ • ‘One coat was enough and took about two minutes to touch dry. I tried putting the finish on just one hand and my nails looked noticeably better. The colour was richer and deeper, smoother and more shiny. Compared to my normal nail polish survival rate this was quite good – I work in a manufacturing job and have lots of keyboard work as well as normal housework’ • ‘The brush is a nice size and there are no loose hairs. It applies smoothly and gives good coverage. I used two coats, which looked lovely and shiny with no obvious brush strokes. My varnish usually chips within two days but this made the polish last three to four days without chipping. It promised to lengthen the life of nail varnish and it did!’

£14 for 10ml - click to buy

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SILVER AWARD Kure Bazaar Clean Base

This will work as a base not just to Kure Bazaar’s ever-expanding range of nail shades, but is compatible with anything you paint over it. Again, an 85% natural formula – here, with a slightly matte finish that could be worn on its own, leaving nails looking clean and smart. The bottle itself is notable: easy to grip and non-spill, dispensing just the right amount of product, so testers found.

OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:

‘This is an extremely good product. I applied two coats, which dried very quickly. My manicure lasted five or six days’ • ‘I used this on its own, which gave a shiny finish and lasted three to four days. Under coloured polish, it protected the nail bed from staining. It went on very smoothly and I liked it. I would buy it’ • ‘Love and easy to apply base coat, which gave a smooth surface for polish. It was fine for three to four days before I needed to remove the polish!’

£14 for 10ml - click to buy

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BRONZE AWARD CND Vinylux Long Wear Top Coat

CND is a brand founded in 1979 by – yes! – a dentist, whose initial product was SolarNail, used in nail sculpting. Fast-forward to 2019 and this is a huge global nail empire, who recommend that this product is used in conjunction with their own polishes, for results that last four times as long as with traditional nail polishes. But you know what? Most testers trialled it with their own chosen varnishes and polishes, and still got great results.

OUR TESTERS' COMMENTS:

‘Brush is great – you can apply generously the product in one fluid movement. Only needed one coat to make nails look super glossy and very glossy; took five minutes to touch dry. I can’t believe how well it lasted and it also seemed to strengthen the nails. I also used on my toenails over a pedicure. I was amazed how beautiful my nails looked even after the beach and being in the pool every day – astonishing! I would buy this!’ • ‘Quite thin in consistency so very easy to apply. It claims to bind with the same brand nail varnishes to create a long lasting chip proof top coat that can last up to seven days. So in the name of doing a decent test and review I did actually purchase some of the CND Vinylux nail varnish. Combined, they definitely lasted longer, between five and seven days’ • ‘I thought this product was great, very easy to apply, nice thin texture to work with and did not go gloopy or coagulate. I work as a cleaner, therefore my hands are exposed to water regularly so I know a product will not last as long for me as others; however I could get five to seven days before chipping’ • ‘One of my top 10 products; it delivers on every level and is far superior to many high-end top coats. Nails looked like I’d just had a professional manicure, the shine is unbelievable – I needed sunnies to look at my nails!'; one coat over a budget nail polish on a Sunday night and they still looked good on Friday morning. I love this and WISH I had discovered it before.’

£16.95 for 15ml - click to buy