I could understand why you'd want a gel manicure to take you through the next month and whatever splendor it holds for you. It's one less thing to do, right? Get 'er done at the beginning of a busy week; maybe sip a glass or two of champagne in the process; and presto, fail-safe gel nails for the foreseeable future.
But what if I told you I could make your plain-old paint nail polish last forever—and look new every day until you took it off? Not necessarily better than gel, but just as good?
The not-so-secret key lies in the base and top coat. I've long ignored one (sometimes both) of those steps when doing my own nails. It's partially a patience thing, but also hinges on the fact that I've never found a pairing that seemed to actually make any sort of difference in the longevity of the manicure. Shinier? Sure. But still chipped.
Oh how wrong I was. I have fallen so deeply in love with Smith & Cult's Basis of Everything and Above It All that I travel with them, even though the bottles are clunky and don't fit easily in a carry-on dopp kit. Doesn't matter—I make room. In between them, I prefer Jin Soon's Ardor (a Barneys exclusive color, as noted by the tiny XO on the front of the bottle). It's the perfect middle ground red—vibrant without skewing too blue, pink, or orange. Goes with everything, and with that top and bottom coat, it'll last through everything, too.
Photographed by Tom Newton.