I have tried a few different brands of base coat and top coat and this duo is my current favorite, Creative Nail Design's Stickey Anchoring Base Coat and Super Shiney Top Coat.
|From left: CND Stickey Anchoring Base Coat, CND Super Shiney Top Coat|
I usually bring my own colors when I used to go to the nail salon to get my toes done. I relied on whatever base and top coat the nail salon used until one day I got a free CND top coat from Trade Secret (I think it was something called Air Dry but I no longer see it on shelves). I brought it with me and brought it out along with my color polish and told the technician she could use it if she wanted to. She said that it was better than theirs so she was definitely going to use it. I suppose I never appreciated it until one day it finally seemed to change in consistency. I had it for years and finally tossed it. I went out and bought Revlon and China Glaze but I was longing for some extra shine. So I finally decided to just spend my money and go back to CND. Concurrently, I had read a little blurb in a magazine about how CND's Stickey Anchoring Base Coat was an excellent ridge filler and base. I didn't really get then what a ridge filler was for, but I was very happy at how this base coat performed.
The brush on both the CND base and top coat is a little different from most brushes in that it's clear/white and firm. It doesn't splay out but lays flat and retains its shape as you apply a coat. I can't say exactly if its an improvement over other brushes but it does a nice job. The base coat has an almost matte finish when you put it on and contrary to its greenish appearance in the bottle, it dries clear.
The top coat, as promised, is shiny. Nothing beats that first day of polish when you have fresh top coat on and it's this shiny. Even the darkest polish colors look more vibrant. Heck, even browns and blacks seemed palatable to me once I'd gotten the top coat on. As with all top coats, the shininess does wear off in time but there's no reason you can't reapply it. Like the base coat, it dries clear, and not pink as it appears in the bottle.
I'm pretty pleased with these two that I constantly use them now. I think that they're part of the reason why most polishes last a week on my nails now. If anything, the only other brand I am thinking of trying in the future is Zoya but I'm a bit reluctant to shell out the $48 for the entire Color Lock System when I imagine using only 3 of the 6 items in it. Besides, I can get CND at Ulta with coupons. They're only $8.50 apiece regularly and it's going to be a long time before my bottles run out.