Skip to Content

Can You Use Regular Nail Polish With Gel Top Coat?

Are you tired of spending extra time and money at the salon for gel manicures? Or maybe you’ve invested in a gel nail kit at home, but you’re wondering if you can use regular nail polish with a gel top coat to save even more?

I’m going to share what happens when using regular nail polish with a gel top coat. Say goodbye to chipped nails and hello to long-lasting color – let’s find out if this combination truly works.

Can You Use Regular Nail Polish With Gel Top Coat?

What Is The Difference Between Regular Nail Polish And Gel Nail Polish?

Composition: Regular nail polish is traditionally formulated with nitrocellulose dissolved in a solvent. It dries through the evaporation of solvents when exposed to air. Gel nail polish consists of acrylic monomers and oligomers that bond when exposed to UV or LED light, creating a hard, glossy finish.

Application Process: When you apply regular nail polish, it’s straightforward: you apply layers of polish followed by a top coat, allowing each layer to air dry. In contrast, gel nail polish requires you to apply a base coat, color coat, and top coat, with each layer needing to be cured under a UV or LED lamp.

Durability: Your regular nail polish tends to chip and peel within a few days. Gel polish is more durable, lasting up to two weeks or more without chipping.

Removal: You can remove regular nail polish with acetone-based or non-acetone nail polish remover. Gel polish removal is more involved; it requires you to soak your nails in acetone and often scrape off the product, sometimes needing salon assistance.

Finish and Flexibility: Regular nail polish gives a glossy finish but with less shine and is more prone to nicks and smudges during the drying process. Gel polish offers a high-gloss, smudge-proof finish immediately after curing and is more flexible, which contributes to its durability.

  • Regular Nail Polish
    • Solvent-based formula.
    • Air dries.
    • Less durable.
    • Easily removed.
    • Glossy, but less shiny finish.
  • Gel Nail Polish
    • UV or LED light-cured formula.
    • Longer to apply with curing steps.
    • Highly durable.
    • Requires soaking for removal.
    • High-gloss, smudge-proof finish.

What Is The Difference Between Regular Nail Polish And Gel Nail Polish?

Can You Use Regular Nail Polish With Gel Top Coat?

Using regular nail polish with a gel top coat is a technique you might consider for achieving a durable finish with your favorite nail color.

Here’s what you need to know to execute this method effectively:


  • Clean Nails: Ensure your nails are clean, dry, and free of oils.
  • Base Coat: Apply a clear base coat to protect your nails and help with adhesion.

Using Regular Polish

  • Apply Polish: After the base coat, apply your regular nail polish.
  • Dry Thoroughly: Let the regular polish dry completely, which can take significantly longer than gel polish—usually several hours.

Applying Gel Top Coat


  • Customization: Expands your color options beyond gel polish selection.
  • Finish: Provides a high-gloss finish that is more durable than regular polish alone.

Important Points

  • Compatibility: Some gel top coats may not be fully compatible with regular polish, potentially leading to peeling or chipping.
  • Drying Time: Adequate drying time for the regular nail polish is crucial to prevent smudging or wrinkling under the gel top coat.
  • Removal: Gel top coats will require soaking in acetone for removal, which can be more time-consuming than removing regular polish.

With these steps, you can customize your manicure with various colors while enjoying the benefits of a long-lasting gel top coat.

Just be patient with drying times to ensure the best results.

What Happens If You Use Gel Nail Polish With A Regular Polish Top Coat?

What Happens If You Use Gel Nail Polish With A Regular Polish Top Coat?

When you combine a gel nail polish with a regular polish top coat, the results are not ideal.

A gel polish requires a specific top coat that can be cured under UV or LED light to form a durable, glossy finish.

Applying a regular polish top coat over a gel polish typically results in certain issues:

  • Compatibility: Regular top coats are designed to dry naturally, while gel polishes are formulated to cure under a light source. The two types may not bond properly, leading to poor adhesion.
  • Curing and Drying Time: A regular top coat will air dry and not cure like a gel, possibly leading to a longer drying time and a less hard-wearing surface.
  • Finish and Durability: You may not achieve the same high-gloss, long-lasting finish that a gel top coat offers. Regular top coats can’t provide the same level of protection against chipping and peeling.

Using a regular polish top coat over gel nail polish can diminish the performance and longevity of your manicure.

For the best results, use a gel top coat designed to work with your gel polish.

Can You Use A Gel Topcoat Over Regular Polish With A UV Light?

When considering whether you can apply a gel topcoat over regular nail polish using a UV light, there are several aspects to consider:

Drying Time:

  • Regular polish must be completely dry before applying a gel topcoat.
  • Drying can take up to 2 hours depending on the polish thickness and environmental factors.

Application Technique:

  • Apply regular polish thinly and evenly.
  • Cure under the UV light only after the regular polish is dry.


  • Gel topcoats are designed to adhere to gel polish, not regular polish.
  • The longevity of the manicure may be compromised.

Finish and Texture:

  • A gel topcoat provides a high-gloss finish.
  • It adds a protective layer, potentially extending the wear of your regular polish.

UV Curing:

  • Use the UV light to cure the gel topcoat, following the product’s specific curing time (usually 30-60 seconds).

Risks and Benefits:

  • Risk: Regular polish may shrink or peel under the gel topcoat.
  • Benefit: Gel topcoat over regular polish may offer a temporary fix for a chipped manicure.

While it is possible to use a gel topcoat over regular nail polish with a UV light, the effectiveness can vary, and the result may not be as durable as a full gel polish manicure.

Ensure the regular polish is thoroughly dry before applying the gel topcoat for the best outcome.

How To Apply A Gel Top Coat Over Regular Polish

How To Apply A Gel Top Coat Over Regular Polish

Applying a gel top coat over regular nail polish can extend the durability of your manicure. Follow these steps to achieve a successful application:

  1. Preparation
    • Start with clean, dry nails.
    • Apply your regular nail polish.
    • Allow the polish to dry thoroughly, which can take much longer than drying gel polish under a lamp.
  2. Application
    • Once the regular polish is dry to the touch and has no dents or smudges, you’re ready to apply the gel top coat.
    • Apply a thin, even layer of gel top coat over the regular nail polish.
    • Avoid touching the cuticles or skin around the nails to prevent lifting and peeling.
  3. Curing
    • Place your nails under a UV or LED lamp to cure the gel top coat.
    • Follow the recommended curing time provided by the gel top coat’s manufacturer, which is typically between 30-60 seconds under an LED lamp or 2 minutes under a UV lamp.
  4. Aftercare
    • After curing, if your gel top coat leaves a sticky residue, use a gel cleanser and a lint-free wipe to remove it.
    • Moisturize your cuticles and hands to keep them hydrated after the application process.

Remember not to rush the drying time of the regular nail polish—patience is key to prevent smudging or uneven curing. Always use products as directed for the best results.

You don’t want to go to the effort of applying layers of nail polish and a gel top coat, only for you to end up smudging your manicure.