Best Ridge Filler – The Basecoat Challenge

RIDGE FILLER

One of the worst things you can do is buff the ridges off your nail plate. Buffing weakens your nails by filing the thickest part to match the thinnest part!

This is why I always recommend using a ridge filler basecoat. I’ve had many people ask me which ridge filling basecoat is my favorite. I haven’t had a favorite.

But I do now!

In this article, I will cover:

  • Why you need to use basecoat
  • Why I tested several popular ridge filler base coats
  • My criteria to help you make an educated decision
  • And who were the winners—they might surprise you

Do We Really Need Basecoat?

Many people don’t know that basecoats are formulated to bond to the nail plate.

Polish is formulated to bond to basecoat—not the nail plate. Topcoat is formulated to bond to basecoat or polish.

Why Ridge Filler?

This is one of my pet peeves—you can’t fill ridges. You fill the grooves between the ridges.

Technically speaking, these basecoats should all be called Groove Fillers. But they probably wouldn’t sell very well because people obsess about dealing with their ridges.

We all want a smooth, glossy manicure. This is how ridge filling basecoats help us achieve the look we want.

The Contenders

I usually get this question at least once per week; “What is your favorite ridge filler basecoat?”

Since I am always testing things and turning myself into my own guinea pig on your behalf, I decided to test six ridge filler basecoats that I could find in the stores where I live in the USA.

I was shocked to discover that many of the big-name brands do not offer a ridge filler basecoat. In my opinion, that’s a disservice to the nail community.

I was able to find several ridge filling basecoats at Sally’s Beauty Supply in the US, and a couple in the drugstores (like Walgreen’s and CVS Pharmacy.)

Disclaimer: I know there are many other brands around the globe who do offer a ridge filler but sadly, I wasn’t able to get my hands on all of them. Perhaps you can take my favorites and compare them with a different brand that you have.

Here’s a list of the ridge filling basecoats I tested:

  • Nina Ultra Pro™ Basecoat & Ridge Filler
  • American Classics Bridge the Ridge®
  • Finger Paints Smooth Over Ridge Filler
  • Orly® Ridge Filler
  • Sally Hansen® Nail Rehab™
  • Wet ‘n Wild Megalast® The Saving Base

When I decided to do this test, my first criteria was to test for durability and number of days of wear.

What I didn’t realize was that in order to perform an accurate test, I would have to essentially wear the same manicure for over two months!

To get more accurate results from a test like this, it’s important to reduce different variables that may affect the outcome of the test.

I know that some polish wears longer or shorter than other brands. Sometimes even the color can change the durability. I didn’t want a different brand, color or top coat to affect the results of my tests.

That meant I had to use the exact same polish and the exact same topcoat for each basecoat I tested.

It’s a good thing I love purple! 

Here are the polishes and top coat I used:

  • Polish: Color Club Holographic “Eternal Beauty” (primary color), OPI Liquid Sand “Can’t Let Go” (accent nails)
  • Topcoat: Sally Hansen® Insta-Dri™ Anti-Chip Top Coat

Test 1: Nina Ultra Pro™ Base Coat & Ridge Filler

I started with Nina Ultra Pro™ Base Coat & Ridge Filler. When applied, it was white and streaky, which I didn’t care for. With two coats it covered the grooves in my nails nicely. Surprisingly, my manicure lasted 11 days before it started to chip.

Price: about $5

Likes:

  • Covered ridges in my nails nicely with two coats
  • Awesome durability

Dislikes:

  • White, streaky color that could affect the way polish looks, depending on the color you paint over the basecoat. This made it impossible to wear on its own.

Manicure Durability:

  • 11 days before chipping

Test 2: American Classics – Bridge the Ridge®

The next test was American Classics Bridge the Ridge®. It dried quickly, and within two coats. It covered almost all of the grooves on my nails. And, it had a nice matte finish.

Two days into the manicure I decided to braid my horse’s mane. I didn’t wear gloves because I needed to get a good grip on Zeus’s thick, wiry hair. Zeus’s mane ended up looking beautiful! But the polish on my thumbnail ended up chipping.

By the next day, I had a small chip on my left middle fingernail. Three days later, my manicure showed normal tip-wear. The basecoat on the undersides of my nail tips (part of the Fab Five Wrap manicure method ) was completely gone. The manicure lasted six days with American Classics Bridge the Ridge®.

Price: about $6

Likes:

  • Dries quickly
  • Covered ridges with two coats
  • Matte finish

Dislikes:

  • Didn’t hold up well with my normal daily activities

Manicure Durability:

  • Began chipping on day 3
  • Manicure lasted total of 6 days

Test 3: Finger Paints – Smooth Over Ridge Filler

The next one was Finger Paints – Smooth Over Ridge Filler. It was very natural looking, but it did not cover my yellow staining much. I used two coats to fully cover my grooves. It dried quickly with a semi-matte finish.

By the seventh day, I had chipping on the right side of my right thumbnail. I also had some sidewall chipping on both index tips. I had normal tip wear and significant tip wear under my nails.

Price: between $6-9

Likes:

  • Dries quickly
  • Covered ridges with two coats
  • Semi-matte finish

Dislikes:

  • Didn’t cover my nails’ yellow staining

Manicure Durability:

  • 7 days before chipping

Test 4: Orly® Ridge Filler

Test number four was Orly® Ridge Filler. It went on a very white and looked very similar to the Nina Ultra Pro™ basecoat. It even smelled the same. But when compared to the Nina, it’s obvious that it’s a different formula.

Orly® Ridge Filler covered my grooves well in two coats. Some nails were coated with just one coat and it dried quickly.

By day three, my polish started chipping a bit. I had chips on my left index finger right thumb and right middle finger. My nails showed normal tip wear and undertip wear. I had to remove the polish by day seven to prevent my urge to pick at the chips.

This brand is available for purchase on Amazon US.

Price: between $5-8

Likes:

  • Dries quickly
  • Covered ridges with two coats

Dislikes:

  • Applied very white
  • Started chipping too soon

Manicure Durability:

  • 3 days before chipping but lasted 7 days

Test 5: Sally Hansen® Nail Rehab 

Test number five was Sally Hansen® Nail Rehab™. The first thing I noticed was that it had a very wimpy brush. I liked the light pink color. The basecoat was a little thin so definitely needed two coats.

By day four I had a chip on my left index fingertip. My nails were showing a fair amount of tip wear on my right hand. I did wash my horse on day three, but I wore nitrile gloves to protect my nails from water absorption. Also, the polish was starting to chip on my right ring finger nail that had the textured polish. I couldn’t go past four days with the Sally Hansen® manicure because I knew would start picking at the chips.

This brand is available on Amazon US.

Price: between $8-12

Likes:

  • Light pink color

Dislikes:

  • Wimpy application brush
  • Thin formula
  • Showed more tip wear
  • Not very durable compared to other ridge fillers

Manicure Durability:

  • 4 days before chipping

Test 6: Wet ‘n Wild Megalast®  The Saving Base

The last base coat I tested was Wet ‘n Wild Megalast®  The Saving Base. This basecoat had a nice application and a nice a wide brush. Two coats covered the grooves in my nails.

Surprisingly, my manicure lasted 11 days!

By day 11, my manicure showed massive tip wear, but there were no chips. I had a big nice growth line in my polish from the cuticle line. I actually probably could’ve gotten one or two days more, but I had to remove my polish for an Instagram and Facebook Live with Cory. He painted my nails and he did a great job for his first manicure ever! Click here to see the video on Youtube

Price: about $3-4

Likes:

  • Light pink color
  • Nice wide brush
  • Awesome durability

Dislikes:

  • Showed more tip wear than others, but that is expected considering the length of the manicure.

Manicure Durability:

  • 11 days before chipping

BONUS TEST:  Nina Ultra Pro™ Basecoat & Ridge Filler

I decided to re-test Nina Ultra Pro™ Basecoat & Ridge Filler to verify results since it was the first basecoat I tested. Was it really strong enough to last 11 days? Or was that test just a fluke?

Yep! It was strong enough.

The second test lasted 10 days and had only minor chipping when I removed my manicure.

Sure, it was hard (really hard!) wearing the same color of polish two months in a row. But it ended up being a really fun experiment. The most fun part was being surprised by the results and finding two clear winners:

  1. Nina Ultra Pro™
  2. Wet ‘n Wild Megalast®  The Saving Base

 What Made Them Winners

Durability is a big deal for me. I really like my manicures to last at least 7 days. That means my manicure is going to have to survive a bit of rough and tumble treatment during my normal daily activities.

Both of these basecoats helped my manicure last 10 days or more with normal tip wear.

I didn’t care for the chalk white color of the Nina Ultra Pro™. It’s definitely not a basecoat that you can wear on its own. It must be covered with a colored polish because frankly, it looked a bit ugly when applied. You definitely couldn’t wear the basecoat alone or for french manicures. It requires a solid colored polish to cover it.

When I add in the variables of durability and appearance, my new favorite ridge filling basecoat is Wet ‘n Wild Megalast®  The Saving Base.

What About You?

It’s always important to remember that we aren’t the same. We all have different body chemistry which can cause you to have a different experience with these ridge filler basecoats.

For my international readers, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to test some of the brands available to you. Perhaps a group of you can get together and swap the basecoats you have to do your own tests.

I hope you found this article helpful!

Summary of Ridge Filling Basecoat Challenge Results