Nail Tek Foundation II Review, Pictures & Swatch

Nail Tek Foundation II Ridge-Filling Base CoatGood base coats are like good undergarments – they provide a foundation to make what you wear on top look better.

For about 4 years, I’ve been using either the Nail Tek Foundation III or Nail Tek Foundation II ridge-filling base coat nearly every time I’ve painted my nails.

Not only does it smooth out your nail and prep it for polish, but it prevents your nails from getting stained.

Plus I’ve noticed that using this stuff has made my average manicure mileage at least 7 days with any brand of polish.

Since I mentioned the Nail Tek Foundation II base coat so many times in my nail-swatch posts, I decided to put the spotlight on it.

To my surprise I learned something about it that made me want to hunt down another base coat. Know what it is? Find out!

Nail Tek Foundation II Pictures

Nail Tek Foundation 2 Base Coat

Nail Tek Foundation II Base Coat

Nail Tek Foundation II Ridge Filling Base Coat

Nail Tek Foundation II Ingredients

Nail Tek Foundation II Swatch

Nail Tek Foundation II Swatches

Claims: OKAY

Fills ridges & nail damage

X Heals & strengthens the natural nail

Key Notes

  • Name: Nail Tek Foundation II Base Coat
  • Amount: 15 mL
  • What I Paid: $5.50 USD
  • Where to Buy: Trans Design, 8ty8Beauty, Head2Toe & various beauty-supply stores

Nail Tek Foundation II Review

Stain Prevention

I was never once left with stained nails when I used the Nail Tek Foundation II ridge filling base coat. Even if I wore deep reds, navy blues, or forest greens, Nail Tek did its job by protecting my natural nails.

Ridge Filling

Nail ridges can ruin the way a manicure looks. Sure, you can buff your nails to smooth them out, but in all honesty, I hate buffing and hardly do it.

With the Nail Tek ridge filler, you not only get a smooth nail surface to work with in seconds, but it also preps your nails for nail polish.

Dry Time

All base coats I’ve tried dry pretty quickly, and this one was no exception. Usually I just wait about 2 minutes to let it dry a bit more before I go over it with a colored polish.

Consistency & Finish

The Nail Tek Foundation 2 base coat is very thin and liquidy. It has a slightly milky color, and when it dries, it becomes matte.

The great thing about the milky color is that it provides just the slightest bit of color that helps sheer polishes show up a little more. (Of course if you really want a sheer polish to look more opaque, you can layer it over white, black, or a color that picks up on the sheer polish’s nuances.)


I’m not too concerned about exclusively using Big-3-free formulas, but when it comes to a base coat, I’d prefer if it doesn’t contain formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, or DBP. Since a base coat is directly on my natural nail, these chemicals can absorb more easily.

Although I’ve been using Nail Tek Foundation 2 base coat for so many years, it was only when I decided to write this review that I looked at the ingredients. To my disappointment, it contains formaldehyde! I’ll continue using this base coat until I finish it, but now I’m on a hunt to find a ridge-filling base coat that’s Big-3-free.

Nail Health

This base coat claims to heal and strengthen your natural nails, but I didn’t find this to be true at all. It’s more for nails that are already healthy and strong.

Normally my natural nails are very strong, and I rarely have peeling or breakage issues. But the few times my nails were feeling a little dry, the Nail Tek Foundation II ridge filling base coat did nothing to improve the situation. In fact, when I removed all my polish those times, my nails felt drier than before.


Nail Tek can be very pricey if you pay retail pricesI’ve seen this base coat sold for $11 at one store! Ridiculous! If you want this product, my suggestion is that you buy from etailers because not only do they sell it for a discounted price, but occasionally they go on sale to boot!

Nail Tek Foundation II vs. Nail Tek Foundation III

Nail Tek Foundation II Base Coat is supposed to be for soft, peeling nails. And Nail Tek Foundation III Base Coat is formulated for dry, brittle nails.

The packaging and bottles look similar. And I found no difference between the two in terms of how it made my nails feel or how it made my nail polish perform. They’re interchangeable to me.

Matte Nail-Polish Frankening

Although I’ve never tried it myself, I’ve heard how you can use Nail Tek Foundation II (or III) Base Coat to make your own matte nail polish. All you have to do is mix together your own pigments or add polish to some of this base coat.


  • Fills in ridges for a smooth-nail finish
  • Dries fast
  • Milky color helps sheer polishes appear more opaque

  • Contains formaldehyde
  • Expensive (unless you purchase from etailers or discount beauty-supply stores)

Final Verdict: 8.5/10

The Nail Tek Foundation II base coat works really well if you want to fill ridges and smooth out the surface of your nails. But remember that it contains formaldehyde and it doesn’t actually strengthen your nails with repeated use.

Can you recommend a Big-3-free ridge-filling base coat? Have you tried other Nail Tek products with positive results? Do you wear a base coat with every manicure? Have you used this to franken your own matte polishes?


20 thoughts on “Nail Tek Foundation II Review, Pictures & Swatch

  1. you nailed it!

    I’m waiting for my bottle to arrive. I do have quite brittle nails so I hope this will work for me. I dind’t know it wasn’t big 3 free either! I heard so many good things about it that I thought it “had to be” big 3 free.
    you nailed it! recently posted: And the winner is

    1. Mary Post author

      Hope it works out well for you. Wish they reformulated it so it’s big-3-free. Maybe a new version is already in the works.

      Do come back and let other readers know how it works for you when you try it! 🙂

  2. Sharon Tan


    Have you found big 3 free base and also can prevent nail to stained ? If you find, let me know, I am looking for it too …

    1. Mary Post author

      Hi Sharon!

      Lately I’ve been testing out the Orly Bonder Rubberized Basecoat on all my manicures. It’s Big-3-Free. These are the ingredients listed: Butyl Acetate, Isopropyl Alcohol, Heptane, Ethyl Acetate, Trimethyl Pentanyl Diisobutyrate, Tosylamide/Epoxy Resin, Polyvinyl Butyral, Nitrocellulose, Benzophenone-1, CI 26100 (Red 17), CI 60725 (Violet 2), CI 47000 (Yellow 11).

      I’ve used it under blue, green, taupe, pink, and yellow. So far I think that’s it. It seemed to prevent staining for all of them except the yellow (Orly Spark). But maybe a 2nd layer of base coat would prevent it. I’ll have to experiment once the stained part of my nail grows out.

      Oh, and a year or so ago, I used CND Stickey Base Coat, which is a green liquid. I believe it’s also Big-3-Free. I remember it worked very well and I never got staining with that – although I don’t think I tested it out on yellow polish. Also, when I used CND Stickey Base Coat, I would layer it over Nail Tek, so really I wore 2 layers of base coat. That might’ve been why I didn’t get any staining. I think I stopped using CND Stickey because I couldn’t find my bottle or maybe I just wanted to test the long-term effects of Nail Tek on my nails. I’ll have to test it by itself with yellow or maybe a red (since a lot of reds can stain).

      I’ll keep you updated on this. If you come across something good, please share! 🙂

      1. Sharon Tan


        i come across Ecrinal Base coat is big 3 free … and it is bit pinkish tone … i am still testing for staining function …. but my nail is very yellowish now ( as a result of OPI base coat … very lousy… ) so i still can’t really determine the effect yet .. will check back your page for update 🙂

        1. Mary Post author

          Hi Sharon!

          I’ve never heard of Ecrinal Base Coat before. Where did you get it?

          Hmm…I’m also testing the OPI Natural Nail Base Coat, and so far, it’s been excellent at preventing staining. Although I’m currently trying it under a red since they’re supposedly notorious for staining nails.

          An update on Orly Bonder Rubberized Base Coat (which I’m also testing): so far it has prevented staining well, except for when I used it under a yellow polish (that was actually from Orly, too!). Of these two, I prefer the OPI one so far. And I still use my Nail Tek Foundation II Base Coat sometimes since I still have a lot left.

          1. Sharon Tan

            OPI Natural Base is not big 3 free …. i think Toluene is the 2nd ingredient in the list (everytime i will feel sick or vomiting after using it) like i will feel sick or vomiting when i m in newly painting room …

            i think i will give Orly a try (avoid yellow color) … thank you for your sharing ….
            i want toxic free nail polish product especially base coat !!

            p/s: Ecrinal is an European brand .. u may try amazon or ebay ( I am not in USA now so i can get it in nearby nail saloon )

            1. Mary Post author

              Wow, you have a really strong reaction to using it! I understand why you’d want to avoid that ingredient. I don’t have any bad reaction to it (yet). Yeah, the OPI one isn’t Big-3-Free, but I had it in my stash and want to use up some old stuff before buying more.

              Okay, thanks for letting me know about Ecrinal! 🙂

  3. CiCi

    CND Stickey is awesome, and Orly Bonder is great too- both 3-free. I’m not really sure that either of those advertise to help the natural nail, but I do know that I’ve heard wonderful things about CND base coats regarding natural nails. (I have acrylics most of the time, so a healing basecoat isn’t much use to me.) I know CND products are on the pricier side, too, especially compared to Nailtek.
    I loved Nailtiques formula 2 when I didn’t have acrylics, but I have no idea if it is big 3 free and my bottle doesn’t specify– I’ll check the box next time I see it on sale. It’s also speeendy, I got the bigger bottle for like $16 when I bought it.
    I’ve heard Chanel Protective Base Coat is a wonder for *protecting* nails against further wear but I don’t believe that it’s a treatment for existing damage. It’s also quite expensive, like everything Chanel 😛 It is 4-free, though.
    Essie’s 3-Way Glaze is a 3-free strengthener/base/top (probably wouldn’t use it for a top coat, though, lol) but I’ve heard good things about this as well.
    Hope you find the basecoat that fulfills all your 3-free dreams! haha

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey CiCi!

      I’ve tried CND Stickey and Orly Bonder. They both work pretty similarly in my experience, except once I got staining with Orly (and I was even using a coloured ORLY polish…Go figure!).

      Oh wow…Chanel, eh? I don’t own a single thing from that brand. The new polish, Peridot, is really tempting, though.

      Good to know about Essie – I haven’t tried any of their base coats, but lots of people seem to like them.

      Thanks for sharing all these wonderful options with me and Swatch And Learn readers! 🙂 Appreciate it!

      1. CiCi

        I own a few Chanel nail polishes, and I picked soooo carefully because they are pricey! I don’t have Peridot, but the bottle shots alone give me the irresistible compulsion to buy it, wear it once or twice and stash it on my vanity front and center 😀
        Ha what a doozy about Bonder with Orly polish. I guess some lacquers just stain and do not quit.

        1. Mary Post author

          Nice! Which is your favourite Chanel polish that you currently own? And how’s the formula of the ones you own. I’ve heard a lot of people say that Chanel polishes chip very quickly. But since I’ve read that Peridot seems to hold up better, that’s why I’m considering buying that one. Also, the colour is obviously amazing! 🙂

          1. CiCi

            OOH favorite..Vert Sacrilege, probably, other faves are Azur, Nouvelle Vague, Paradoxal… Chanel colors are incredibly gorgeous, it is truly not just the brand–their polishes have this richness and dimensionality to them that I really never see in any other lacquers. Chanel’s cremes are a true love of mine because they have this incredible bit of shimmer while staying in creme territory, and the formula is to die for.
            On my natural nails, Chanel polishes do tend to chip rather more quickly than others, it varies on the polish. Part of me wants to believe that this is due to the unique pigments that they use 🙂 maybe the ingredients that give Chanel’s signature multidimensional out-of-this-world shimmer can also cause the polish to be less durable?
            On my acrylic nails I had far less of a problem, though.
            I actually don’t have Peridot! Weird, I got Graphite because that was the one which really caught my eye and for some reason I’ve been totally resisting Peridot even though I’m gaga for Chanel nail polish. I think perhaps because when I see the base color I get mad that I don’t have ChG Cat’s Eye, a super longtime lemming of mine.
            I do know I’ll cave on Peridot at some point because oh my gosh it’s gorgeous. I’ve heard the wear is *significantly* improved.

            1. Mary Post author

              I keep trying to find the Revlon dupe of Paradoxal, but of course I have no luck. But I still haven’t given up yet. Every time I go to the drugstore, I check out all the Revlons. 🙂 Now if only Revlon would make a Chanel Peridot dupe…hehe. Yeah right! 😛

              Have you tried using Chanel polishes with a Chanel base coat (if they have one…not sure because I have never shopped for anything Chanel)?

              Oh yeah! The beautiful and discontinue China Glaze Cat’s Eye! I’ve never seen it in person, either…but if I ever do, I bet it’ll feel like winning the lottery. Well, almost. I’d just be less rich. A tad. 😉

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey maddy!

      Glad that you’re enjoying it! That milky look will be especially good for using under sheers and neons. 🙂 Unfortunately, I’ve tried it and it doesn’t play well on me. I’m not sure why.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Natalie!

      Thank you so much – glad that you found this review useful. And I really hope that it works well on your nails. Sometimes it’s all about trial and error. What works for one person doesn’t work for another. But keep trying, and something will do the job! 🙂

      If you can, please return and let me know how it worked after you’ve tried it for a little while.


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