First Base (Essie)First time buying a base coat!
Price: $6.50 (ebay)
I'd always thought that I didn't need them, especially since I never kept my color on for too long before I changed it so I never saw any deterioration of a particular polish. I'm going to try it now just to see what it does for strengthening my nails and reducing the staining that might happen from a dark color. I chose Essie since I figured that this could be one I could splurge a little on (just one coat an application!) and hope for quality.
It applies incredibly smooth and dries pretty damn quick. I've found that polish is easier to apply when I use First Base and even the color looks better sometimes (especially the metallics).
And for the top coat:
Out The Door (INM)
So far so good.
It's not goopy like other top coats I've tried and its brush works great with it. It's easy to apply and unless you don't have any amount on the brush, there's no damage to your other coats and that's the second best thing about this top coat.
The best thing is that it does actually dry pretty fast. Obviously, if you ding your nail polish hard against something without give, it'll be damaged but if you're looking to avoid the basics, like when you brush against clothes, this should do the trick.
Also, cheaper than Seche Vite; third best thing.