Can You Mix Regular Nail Polish With Gel Polish?

There is something we all think about when doing our nails. To get the colors we want and save money, most of us tried mixing different polish types and brands to get the desired color or skipped out on buying a new bottle. But can you mix regular nail polish with gel polish?

bottle of nail polishes being poured out to mix

Can You Mix Regular Nail Polish With Gel Polish?

It would help if you did not mix regular nail polish with gel polish. The chemical components of the two differ in how each needs to dry and how the color is displayed. Mixing it together can lead to an unwanted result because of the inability to dry and ruin the set by wrinkling.

We see videos on social media of these hacks where people mix different polishes and claim that it works. Or that is what it looks like, but let’s see if it can work and, if it doesn’t, what the reasons behind it are.

Why Not Mix Regular Nail Polish With Gel Polish?

Different brands bring different products, although some components are the same. For example, many nail lacquer brands give it the same name, but their elements, consistency, and colors differ. Unlike mixing gel polish colors, where they have the same chemical composition and can blend together, regular and gel are not the same type of polish.

The similarities in a type of polish usually come in with the drying it needs and, in some cases, the application. For example, regular nail polish needs to react with air. It then releases chemicals from the nail polish on the nail until the set is dry.

On the other hand, gel polish needs curing under a UV lamp to dry. The photoinitiators in the resin component of the gel need UV light to polymerize and dry on the nail. Thus, the entire process differs from regular polish.

Mixing the two different types of polishes together will lead to an unknown territory. You will need to know how much of which one you used and what the protocol for drying would be.

What Can Happen If You Mix Regular And Gel Polish?

mixed gel polish and regular nail polish

You might get lucky and mix the perfect combination and get the desired result, but this seldom happens every time. And although you might think you got the best result, there might be underlying issues bound to surface then or later. Problems you can run into:

  • The overlay stays wet and won’t cure, or air dry properly
  • The manicure wrinkles and make waves or cracks
  • Infection and irritation of the nail and surrounding skin

Issue #1: The Overlay Stays Wet

Depending on the mixture ratio you use, there will always be one product that needs air drying and one that needs UV curing. Mixing the two brings you to a predicament. How long will the regular polish in the mix take to dry after you cure the gel polish?

And if you want to apply another layer, what happens if the regular polish has not dried yet? These uncertainties are precisely why you should avoid mixing these two components.

Issue #2: Wrinkly And Wavy Nail Polish

You know something went wrong when your overlay makes waves or separates while you paint it on the nail. This could be because the components will not bond well with each other, and the aspect of wet polish on the first layer can cause these waves as well.

There is no way to fix this; the best would be to get the acetone and remove the set. Trying to save a wrinkly set will only worsen the situation.

Issue #3: The Health-Related Issues

You might get it right and keep using the mix, curing it, and it lasts a little longer than your usual nail polish set. The problem is that those particles that could not dry get captured under the hardened layer, leading to irritation, allergies, and weakening of the nail.

What If I Want To Try And Combine Nail Polish And Gel?

You are welcome to try mixing regular polish and gel together, but the result is on you. Too much gel with nail polish will lead to nail lacquer trapped between the abundance of cured gel.

Jim McConnell, the head scientist at Light Elegance nail products, recommends increasing the lacquer ratio to gel. Mixing in 10% to 20% of gel will give you the best probability of this plan working.

However, it will never be a done deal to get the perfect manicure because the elements in different products and brands react differently. It will help if you keep in mind that mixing the two different types will mess around with the color. For example, adding clear gel polish will fade the actual color of the nail lacquer.

Is There A Way To Use Regular And Gel Polish Together?

There are ways to combine the two, but this does not entail mixing them before application. For example, some turn their regular polish overlay into a longer-lasting gel overlay without mixing the two. Here is how:

  • Apply regular polish to the nail and wait for it to dry. Regular nail polish takes time to dry and can take up to a day to dry completely. Remember, if nail polish is dry to the touch, it doesn’t mean it has dried completely. If you don’t smell it anymore, then it has dried. Apply one layer of gel polish top coat over the regular polish, and cure it.
  • Apply a gel polish overlay following the standard application process. You will have to use a clear gel to add a particular regular polish over it. Add the nail polish layer, and you are good to go. This won’t last as long as a gel overlay, but it is a safe way to incorporate the two types of polish.
  • Hybrid polishes are available on the market. These have been scientifically mixed with the correct gel and nail polish ratio. It needs curing under a UV lamp but consists of more components than you will find in a lacquer. Thus, giving a natural look and easier removal.


Influencers may advertise their DIY ways to mix regular nail polish and gel polish successfully. The ratio and brand might work to maintain the overlay, but you won’t know if the actives under the cured shell are safe for your nail.