Finding the right base coat is a critical first step in creating the perfect at-home manicure. If you use one that doesn't have a decent adhesive quality, then the color you've just applied is likely to peel off quickly.

An instant peel or chip on your freshly manicured hands feels like a big waste of time. Here are three brilliant base coats that I've been using for years — and as always, if you have a favorite of your own, please tell me what it is in a comment below.

As far as base coats go, I've always considered Nailtiques Nail Protein Formula 2 ($9.50) a treat because it's fairly expensive. Also, I think it's nothing short of a miracle worker on weak, peeling nails, so if I can muster up the self-control to let some actual white tips grow in, I reward myself with a coat of this keratin enriched base coat. If you're a first-time user, it is recommended to apply one coat every other day for a week without color, and then apply it as a base coat and a top coat to your next manicure.

Borghese Brilliante Base & Top Coat ($6.74) dries quickly while providing a thin, yet adequate base for your manicure. It contains granules of gemstones for added shine, proteins to help your nails grow stronger and it seals in moisture for healthier nails. Also, it's toluene, DBP and formaldehyde free.

For one more drugstore base coat option,


Sally Hansen Hard As Nails ($2.75) is a product that I've been using since high school. It's always worked well to help strengthen my weak, bitten nails and it's so shiny that I often wear it alone. After continued use, my nails feel harder and they have less ridges. You can't beat the price or the super-long brush. If you've never tried this base coat before, I highly recommend it.