Now that I'm using "3-Free" polishes (Formaldehyde, Tolulene & DBP free), I find that you have to put in a bit more prep work to get a good, lasting mani. Thanks to ZOYA and their Color Lock System, it's a breeze. Some may balk at the cost (currently $48 dollars) but it is WELL WORTH IT.
Zoya's Remove+ is called 3 in 1 because it is a polish remover, nail cleaner and nail prep. If I don't use this right before polishing, I do a good handwash. But most of the time, I'm removing one color anyway. This stuff ROCKS. Not only does it not stink like traditional removers, it actually smells nice! It's also very gentle on my nails. And the huge bonus--their Flipper bottle is such a unique design--you twist the top cap, hold your cotton ball over the hole and gently pump. Twice soaks a large cotton ball--plenty to take off most polish jobs. If there's lots of glitter, sometimes a bit more is needed. I haven't figured out how to get enough out for a q-tip to clean up my nail edges without spraying my freshly-painted nails--but so far, no damage. Zoya does sell a large refill bottle. This definitely gets an A+ from me!
My next absolute favorite item is the Get Even Ridge Filler. Despite buffing (more on that later) I still have ridges. Between my age, my chronic illnesses and medications, I have ridges. But beyond filling, this is an amazing base coat. It's a light milky white, so it doesn't really affect any color you're going to paint with. One quick coat on each nail is all I need. It dries so fast that by the time I'm done with my other hand, the first hand is nearly dry. I actually prefer this to the Armor Basecoat--I don't know if the fibers really do help keep my polish strong, but I think it makes my nails stronger in general.
Finally, the Renew is excellent and does just what it says. I've gotten some polishes that despite some good shaking, really didn't go on smoothly. I add a dropper of this stuff and WHAM good as new! A word of caution--even though the included dropper CAN screw on the bottle, I strongly advise you do NOT leave it on. My bottle must have tipped over or wound up evaporating. So--lesson learned, keep the original cap ON.
As for the Anchor and Armor, they are just fine. I have no complaints. I've just found that the Ridge Filler dries faster than Anchor, and sometimes I find the Armor "dulls" the shine of some of my glitters. In addition, since I love mattes, you can't add a topcoat or it defeats the purpose of the matte finish.
All this comes in a handy bag with complete instructions on how to use each product. They are also sold separately, but of course it is cheaper to buy them as a set than one at a time.
Now...back to buffing....
I had a manicure stick with different colors, but I kept having to refer to the packaging to remember which color meant which step. BAH. When I found this, I was in love! I'm about to wear this one out, so my lovely husband picked me up 2 more. Every now and then, by the time I get done shining, I've actually left my nails naked, they looked so pretty! Between the remover and my block, any discoloration to my nails is gone, no matter how dark the polish.
As the saying goes, your mileage may vary. I'm a happy camper. And so are my nails!