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Can I Use Base Coat as Primer for Acrylic Nails?

Are your acrylic nails in need of a touch-up? Have you ever wondered can I use base coat as primer for acrylic nails?

In this article, I’ll share the pros and cons of using a base coat as primer for acrylic nails, just in case you run out of proper acrylic nail primer, and you fancy trying a base coat as primer instead. Keep on reading to find out more.

Woman applying a base coat to her natural nails

A nail polish base coat is a special kind of nail polish that is applied to nails before you apply your regular nail polish of choice.

It serves several purposes, but its primary purpose is to protect the natural nail from damage or discoloration, from the regular polish, as well as protect your nails from chemical nail damage.

Applying a base coat will give nails a smoother and more even surface on which to apply the desired color. They also act as an adhesive so that the nail polish can adhere more easily and last longer without chipping or peeling off prematurely.

The point of using a basecoat is twofold: firstly, it acts like glue for your manicure – by adding an extra layer beneath it, you increase its staying power and adhesive properties, to ensure that your manicure lasts for as long as possible.

Using a base coat on the surface of your nails and nail bed, will help in preventing staining caused by darker pigmented polishes.

Wearing a colored polish without one increases susceptibility towards yellowing and discoloration eventually – not ideal when you want perfect-looking nails all week long.

It’s important to always start with a base coat whenever you’re doing your mani, as this will create the ideal foundation for any highly pigmented hue, looking its best for days after application (not to mention keeping your nails healthy too).

This way, you won’t have to worry about dealing with chipping or ruining your precious talons further down the line. You can also use a base coat to prep your nails for artificial nails too.

Why Do You Need To Use A Nail Primer for Acrylic Nails?

Using a primer is important when applying acrylic nails. Primers are nail products that create a sticky surface for better adhesion of the acrylic to the natural nails.

Without using an acid primer, the acrylic will not adhere properly to the nail plate and can cause weak spots or lifting.

A type of primer called an acid primer helps prep the nail bed for longer lasting wear of your acrylics by removing any oils from the nail plate and nourishing it with extra calcium and protein.

This creates a stronger bond between your natural nails and artificial ones. Without using a primer, your nails may suffer damage from harsh chemicals in other nail products, as well as lack of protection on your real nails.

As well as making sure that your synthetic nails stay on securely, using a primer will also protect the natural beauty of your own fingernails by adding necessary elements back into them that may have been washed away due to everyday use or exposure to bad weather conditions.

Baby pink nail polish being applied by a nail technician to natural nails

How to Apply Nail Primer Correctly

Nail primer is the first step in prepping your nails before applying acrylics or gels. It helps create a bond between the natural nail and the product you are using, while protecting the nails from damage.

Before applying primer, it’s important to dehydrate your nails to remove any natural oils that can prevent products from adhering to the nail plate properly.

To apply primer correctly, start by applying it directly onto clean and dry nails with a small brush; make sure that each nail is evenly coated with an even layer of primer all over.

Primer will act like a glue and help acrylic and gel products adhere better and stick to the nail for longer periods of time.

Once applied to all ten fingers, use an LED or UV lamp light for up to 1–2 minutes until each layer has dried completely before adding any additional coatings.

This process should be repeated on both hands until every single finger is adequately primed before starting with other steps such as filing or buffing.

When you’re done priming your nails, use a remover specifically made for removing base coats to ensure a long lasting hold of acrylics or gels onto your nails without damaging them in any way.

Prep The Surface Of The Nails Before Using Acrylic Nails Primer

Before you start with the acrylic nails, it is important to prepare the natural nail plate by getting rid of any surface oils and residue that might be there.

This can be done by using an acid-free primer, which will help create a smooth surface and allow the acrylic to adhere better to your nail plates.

To apply a primer, first make sure your nails are clean and free of any existing polish or oils.

Then use a cotton ball or swab soaked in the acid-free primer to gently swipe over each nail plate until all 10 nails have been covered.

Allow for the primer to dry completely before applying the acrylic. Primer is used as it helps strengthen and provide an extra layer of protection between your natural nails and acrylic so that your nails are less prone to chipping or peeling off too soon.

Woman having her nails done by a nail technician

Nail Primer vs Base Coat: What’s the Difference?

In the world of gel polish and other nail treatments, there are two types of primer that are often used to make sure nails look their best.

The first is an acid-based primer, which is applied directly to the surface of the nail plate. An acid-free nail primer can also be used, but this doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the nails, so it does not have quite the same effect.

The job of either type of primer is to prep your nails for any other type of treatment you intend to do, such as painting them with a gel polish or even just a base coat.

The goal is usually to create an even surface with fewer ridges and bumps so that whatever else you apply will adhere better.

Nail primer and base coat are entirely different products. Nail primer is made with methacrylic provide an extra level of adhesion between acrylics and natural nails; nail primers help fill in the tiny holes in the natural nail plate so that nothing chips away at it too quickly during removal of the nails to make the nails as healthy as possible.

Base coats contain plasticizers. Using a base coat before anything else helps protect your nails from staining, while providing another layer between your skin and whatever product you’re applying next.

A good top coat after each new set will eventually thin out over time, which then thins out the entire nail plate but using a combination primer/base coat helps prevent this from happening too fast.

In summary, both primers and base coats serve different purposes depending on what kind of treatment will be done on your nails afterward.

While an acid-based primer penetrates deeper into your nails for better adherence when using certain types of products like acrylics or gel nails, non-acid primers can still give some grip onto natural nails better than if no primer was used at all but won’t be as effective overall as an acid-based one would be.

Can I Use Base Coat As Primer For Acrylic Nails?

No, you cannot use base coat as a primer for acrylic nails. Whilst a base coat can be used to make nail polish last longer, it is not an effective substitute for nail primers and dehydrators.

Nail primers are specifically designed to remove any debris, including dirt and grease, from the nail plate and create a good base to apply acrylic nails onto.

Without using a nail primer first, you run the risk of air bubbles being formed in between the acrylic nails and your natural nails, which may lead to chemical nail damage over time.

Unless your natural nails are already prone to chipping easily, then there isn’t necessarily any need for thinning them down with a basic coat before applying acrylics.

A thick layer of a good base coat will just add extra bulk onto the area that needs to be filled out with the acrylics, which can often cause lifting or other forms of damage later on, from the adherence of acrylic to the nail plate.

The difference between a nail primer and a base coat is that whilst a base coat adds an additional layer between your natural nails and colored polish so that they last longer, primers and dehydrators help form stronger bonds between the two materials by removing any debris and creating better adhesion between the acrylic and the natural nails.

For best results with adding artificial tips onto your own fingernails, it is always advisable to ensure proper dehydration prior – this can be achieved using professional primers rather than relying solely on one product alone, such as only using a basecoat before the application process begins.

woman using a nail file to buff acrylic nails

Gel vs Acrylic Nails: Different Nail Primer Requirements

Applying a nail primer to the natural nails is generally used to create a strong bond between the nail and the gel or acrylic.

The type of primer used determines how well the acrylic or gel will adhere to the nails, with the best nail primer being dependent on your preferred type of nail enhancement.

One of the main differences between a nail primer for gels and one for acrylics is that an acid-based primer must be applied to acrylic nails, while a nail dehydrator can be used on gel nails. This is due to each type having different requirements in terms of base preparations.

An acid-based primer works to create an acidic environment which helps bind monomers, forms links, and helps them attach better to the nail surface.

Gel nails don’t need this acid-based solution as they possess hygroscopic properties which allow them to absorb moisture from their surroundings, eliminating the need for such primers.

A nail dehydrator works by removing any excess moisture from around your nails, allowing your nail polish or gel to properly adhere without any bubbles or lifting occurring afterward.

Using a proper nail primer ensures that your manicure will stay put for longer periods and helps keep the health of your nails intact as it provides extra protection against lifting.

For best results, pick up both kinds of primers, so you have one ready when you switch between products, allowing you time to adjust as needed and protect against damage with either type made specifically for gel and acrylic nails respectively.

This way, all sources of potential contamination, like soap residue or oils on the skin are removed before application, making sure that only quality materials reach the result, to make your nails look healthy and beautiful.


It is not recommended to use a base coat as a primer for acrylic nails. Whilst a base coat can be used to make nail polish last longer, it is not an effective substitute for nail primers and nail dehydrators.

Nail primers are specifically designed to remove any debris, including dirt and grease, from the nail plate and create a good base to apply acrylic nails onto.

It’s also important to understand that there are different types of primers depending on the type of product you’re using.

Whilst acid-based primers should be used with acrylics, dehydrators should be used with gels. For best results, pick up both kinds of primers, so you have one ready when you switch between products.

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