Can you put a gel top coat over regular nail polish

If you love painting your nails, then you know that a manicure wouldn’t be complete without a topcoat.

It helps seal the lacquer in and adds a shiny finish that will make you admire your mani all day.

But regular nail polish doesn’t last as long as gel as it tends to chip after a few days even if you applied a top coat over it.

But what happens if you put gel top coat over regular polish? Would it make your manicure last longer, or will it just ruin it?

So in this article, you’ll find out the difference between gel and regular topcoat; and see if it’s possible to layer gel over nail polish.

Regular vs gel top coat

Regular vs gel top coat

As a nail polish fanatic, you know that a top coat is usually the last step of a good at-home regular manicure. It makes your nails glossy and adds a protective layer over your colored polish. It helps prevent your polish from chipping a few days longer than a manicure without a topcoat.

Regular topcoat is available in various modified versions, including fast-drying, anti-chipping, or strengthening. But, it still contains the same base as an ordinary colored polish, so it only needs to evaporate its solvents to dry.

While a gel topcoat also provides an added layer of protection over your manicure. But unlike a regular top coat, it needs curing under a UV or LED lamp to harden.

Gel topcoat is available in 2 formulas: wipe or no-wipe topcoat. A wipe topcoat is usually used during a gel manicure, but it leaves a sticky residue after curing. So you have to wipe your nails using alcohol, nail polish remover, or gel nail cleanser to remove the tacky layer. Since it will make foreign objects stick to your nails, thus, shortening the life of your manicure.

While a no-wipe topcoat won’t need wiping off since it doesn’t leave a sticky residue, making it more convenient to use. It also has a thicker consistency, so it dries stronger than a wipe topcoat.

It’s also great for nail art since it won’t easily run down your nails, giving you more time to smoothen out your manicure.


Can you use a gel top coat over regular polish?

Can you use a gel top coat over regular polish

Don’t you just love how easy it is to apply nail polish but hate how it only takes a couple of days to peel off?

That’s why the idea of layering gel and nail polish is growing more and more tempting the more your polish wears off.

So the question is, can you use a clear gel top coat on regular nail polish?

The simple answer is: yes

The application can be a little tricky, but as long as you make sure your nail polish is completely dried. 

Once you cure your gel top coat, the layers will have a hard time drying since the solvents are being trapped under, which will then make the regular polish wrinkle and eventually shrink.


So if you want to try this method, make sure to let your nails air dry for 24 hours, as that’s how long the solvents take to evaporate completely.

Applying thin coats of regular nail polish also helps reduce the drying time as well as making the lacquer adhere to your nails better, so it doesn’t peel off as fast.

How to use regular nail polish with gel top coat

If you want your manicure to last longer, applying a gel top coat over nail polish can be easy using the following steps:

  1. Start with clean and trimmed nails. Push back your cuticles and make sure there’s no leftover nail polish from your previous manicure.
  1. Apply 2-3 thin coats of your regular nail polish in any color of your choice. But remember to give each layer enough time to dry between.
  1. Once you’re done with your final coat, allow the lacquer to completely dry overnight.
  1. On the next day, apply a layer of clear gel top coat over your nails. Cure them under your UV or LED lamp for 30 seconds or depending on the designated time of your topcoat.

If done well, you can then enjoy a manicure that won’t chip after a few days.

But if you want a more durable manicure, you can also try the “gelly sandwich” method. You apply a gel base coat before painting on layers of regular nail polish, then finish it off with a layer of your favorite gel topcoat.

It will give the illusion of having a full gel manicure, and it’s also easy to do. You just need to cure your gel base coat and wipe off the sticky residue. Then follow the steps above to get a long-lasting manicure.

How to remove regular nail polish with gel top coat

How to remove regular nail polish with gel top coat

So let’s say you’ve enjoyed your manicure for a week, but now you’re ready to apply a fresh color, so how would you remove them?

You can take off the gel topcoat the same way you normally remove gel nail polish. Except you don’t have to soak your nails in acetone as long as when you have a gel manicure.

To remove the gel top coat, you can do the foil method. It’s an effective process since the heat accumulated inside the foil makes the acetone work faster.


To start, soak a cotton ball in acetone and place it on top of your nail. Then wrap your finger with aluminum foil, ensuring your nail is fully covered. Then repeat the steps on the rest of your nails.

Let the cotton ball sit for 5-10 minutes, then remove the foil off your fingers. The gel layer will then be soft enough to push off with a nail groomer. But if not, you can soak them again in acetone.

If you don’t have acetone at home, you can use a mixture of warm water, dishwashing soap, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let your nails soak for 20-30 minutes until the gel layer is easy to scrape off.

Once the top coat is off, remove the rest of your nail polish with a cotton ball soaked in acetone or nail polish remover.

If your nails and cuticles feel dry, apply moisturizing cuticle oil to rehydrate and nourish them.

Alternative to gel top coat

But if using a gel top coat over your regular manicure intimidates you, you can use a gel-like or gel-effect topcoat.


It gives your nails the same glossy effect as real gel nail polish would. As well as helps prevent your manicure from chipping and cracking, making it last longer than a regular topcoat can.

Another great thing about it is that you don’t need to cure it under a UV lamp, so it’s not a hassle to apply. Plus, you can simply remove it by using nail polish remover.

So if you want to give your nails a break from gel nail polish, some brands also offer colored gel-effect nail polish that would pair perfectly with a gel-like topcoat.

CHECK OUT: Alternative to Gel Nails

Final thoughts

Regular nail polish will always be a staple in every nail polish lover’s collection. But compared to other types of polish, it’s the easiest to chip off.

So that’s where the method of applying a gel top coat over your regular manicure comes in.

It gives your lacquer an extra layer of protection that a regular top coat can’t do. Plus, don’t you just love how glossy it makes your nails look?

The secret is to make sure your nail polish is completely dry before adding that layer of gel topcoat. Otherwise, it’s going to look wrinkly.

But removing the layers can be a pain since it still needs you to soak your nails in acetone. So before trying this method, always use your best judgment on whether your nails can handle that many chemicals.

But other than that, you can now enjoy a longer-lasting manicure thanks to this little trick. 

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