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Can You Use Regular Nail Polish With Gel Top Coat?

Last Updated on September 21, 2022 by SulaBeauty Staff

Gel nail polishes are well known and preferred for their durability, added protection, and natural nail-like finish.

On the other hand, regular nail polishes are known for their variety of colors, easy application, and removal process.

What will happen if you combine these two? Can you use regular nail polish with a gel top coat?

The shortest answer is NO!

Actually, you can, but you shouldn’t.

This blog is a detailed explanation of the reason behind this answer.

What is a Gel Top Coat?

Before heading ahead for the reasons, let us first know precisely what the gel top coat is.

A gel top coat is used over gel nail polish to provide a mirror-like finish to your nails.

It works as a sealer and protects the nail color under it.

It has a soft gel-like smoother texture that helps with no peeling and cracking.

Can You Use a Gel Topcoat Over Regular Nail Polish?

Regular nail polish takes ‘years’ to completely dry.

It may seem to you that the sticky layer of the nail polish is fully dry, but they take at least 24 hours to get dry completely; else, you may observe crease or dents.

Whereas gel polish requires about 30-60 seconds of drying time.

Once it dries out completely, it forms a thick and hard protective covering over the nails.

Now you can completely distinguish between a regular manicure and gel nails. 

Gel polish dries much earlier than regular nail polish, and hence, no moisture is left behind in the nails.

If this happens, the nail bed becomes a breeding ground for ingrowing fungus and bacterias that can cause itching and sometimes severe skin allergies. 

There is a whole protocol for using these gel top coats; hence, they should not be used over regular polishes. 

Combining Regular Nail Polish With Gel

If you still wish to combine these two varnishes, you must wait until your regular nail polish dries completely.

In short, you must wait for 24 hours before applying the gel top coat.

For extra gloss and strength, you may first use a gel base coat before applying regular polish. 

Since gel polishes tend to dry faster than regular ones, you may apply a coat of regular nail polish on the gel base and cure it under a UV lamp until the polish adheres properly. 

Then apply to coat over regular polish and seal the bond properly.

How to Apply a Gel Top Coat Over Regular Nail Polish?

For applying a gel top coat over your regular nail polish, follow the given steps:-

1. Prep your nails.

It is also necessary to prep your nails while applying regular nail polish because this will provide you with a more salon-like finish at home. Use a nail file for doing this. 

Do apply cuticle oil as well. You can also use a regular base coat and let it air dry.

2. Apply your regular nail polis. 

Once the base coat is fully dry, apply the first coat of your desired colored regular nail polish. Make sure that you apply a thin layer of it and let it dry completely before applying the second one.

Two coats are sufficient for covering your nail bed completely. The best would be if you leave your nails to air dry themselves for a complete 24 hours or more.

3. Use a gel top coat now.

Once your nails are completely air dried, you are good to go with the top coat. Apply a sufficient amount of gel top coat only on the nails and not on the skin.

It is hard to get these stubborn gel coats off the skin once they are fully dried. Cure this top layer under UV light or an LED lamp.

Benefits of a Uv Gel Top Coat With Regular Nail Polish

1. Increases durability.

Applying a UV gel top coat over your regular nail polish will increase the durability of the nail color, making them more long-lasting. You might have noticed that if no top coat is applied to regular polishes, they start chipping and peeling off in just 3-4 days.

But UV gel top coat forms a protective layer on them. It can make them last for up to 3 weeks with no peel or chip.

2. Glossier finish.

A regular top coat does not provide that shine and glossy look that a UV top coat does. It provides a mirror-like finish to your gel manicure. 

3. Smooth texture.

Why Do People Use a Gel Top Coat With Regular Nail Polish?

Gel nail polishes are preferred more as compared to regular polish. 

This is because they provide a much more glossy and smooth finish than any regular polish.

Gel polishes prevent the chipping and peeling of regular nail polishes for a much longer time. When you use regular nail polish, it stays for about 3-4 days.

But this time extends for up to 3-4 weeks when a gel topcoat is used on them.

This also saves a lot of money; hence, it is used worldwide. Learn more about the difference between Gel vs. Regular Nail Polish

The “Gelly” Sandwich Technique

As the name suggests, this manicure technique seals the regular nail polish between a gel base coat and gel topcoat.

For this technique, prep your nails and apply a UV gel base coat on your nails. Then apply a thick nail polish coat or at least 2 or 3 of it if you apply a thin coat. 

Apply gel topcoat on the completely dried nail polish. Cure both the base and the top coat under a UV lamp.

Using this method allows you to choose the nail color of your choice so that you don’t have to stick to the same gel color available every time. You can easily change the nail polish by yourself also.

If you want to change the nail color, simply soak your nails in warm water until the top coat starts fading. Then change the color and apply the top coat accordingly.

And yes, it too lasts long.

However, removing gel manicures is a hard task.

For the removal process, you may need to soak your ‘gelly sandwich’ in acetone for twenty or more minutes.

What About a Gel Base Coat With Regular Nail Lacquer?

A gel base coat is the second thing that comes in direct contact with your nails after the primer is used during nail prep.

A UV gel base coat has a different chemical composition than regular nail polishes. This is why a gel base coat and regular lacquer won’t bond if used together. 

This difference will result in peeling, and you may also notice nail polish flakes. Therefore, you must invest in good quality and compatible base coat. 


Long story short, you should not use a gel topcoat or gel base coat with regular nail polishes.

This is because regular nail polishes require a lot of drying time to dry completely, whereas gel polishes dry within a few minutes.

Regular polish with a gel top or base coat can trap the moisture, leading to severe fungal infections.

You must use a base coat, top coat for regular nail polishes, and gels for the gel manicure.  

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