Can you Use a Gel Top Coat on Regular Nail Polish?

With extended durability, impermeable properties, and resistance to damage, peeling, or chipping, a gel polish top coat is always the go-to option for many nail enthusiasts.

In fact, gel polish lasts longer than regular nail polish for up to a few weeks (regular on stays for 2-3 days). But what if you already have regular polish painted on your nails and still want a glossy look of gel polish?

The question is: Can you use a gel top coat on regular nail polish?

Well, here is the answer:

Can You Use A Gel Top Coat On Regular Nail Polish?

As a general rule, you can use a Gel top coat on regular nail polish, but before you do, you must make sure that the regular polish layer is completely dry. If it’s still wet, the gel will mix with the traditional polish and leave you with a mess.

The drying process typically requires around 24 hours for this coat to set firmly on your nails before using a gel top polish. 

If you don’t have time to wait for this layer to cure thoroughly, then this is not the beauty treatment you should try.

Before using an extra gel top polish with regular nail varnish, let’s scroll down to learn the advantages and disadvantages.

can you use gel polish on regular nail polish

Should You Use A Gel Top Coat On Regular Polish? 

You can look through the benefits and drawbacks of a gel polish before using it with regular nail varnish below!


#1. It Is Durable. 

Gel polishes are relatively long-lasting; some types can keep their gloss for up to three weeks before cracking, flaking, or fading.

Therefore, if you want to save time, these products are reasonable solutions as they don’t need frequent touch-ups.

#2. It Offers A Better Finish.

The beauty of gel top polishes is astounding. They create a glossy, smooth, and super shiny look for your nails. 

#3. It Dries Quickly.

While regular nail varnishes require around 24 hours to cure completely, gel top polishes don’t take time. 

You only need to wait about one or two minutes for these products to set into your nails or existing coats. 

#4. It Strengthens Your Nails.

If you have weak nails, gel coats are the perfect method to provide extra protection. Once these products dry, they become incredibly hard in their consistency.


1. It Requires Equipment. 

You need an LED or UV lamp to cure gel top polishes. In addition, you must have acetone polish removers or prepping solutions. 

#2. It Is Expensive.

Compared to regular varnish, gel top coats are more expensive due to extra equipment and products. 

#3. It May Pose A Possible Safety Risk. 

Exposure to UV or LED light may have some risks related to skin cancer. While the FDA findings suggest that UV/LED lights are not likely to cause harm, using UV-blocking gloves while curing your nails is recommended.

How To Apply Gel Top Coat On Regular Nail Polish?

can you use gel polish on regular nail polish

You can follow the simple guides below if you plan to apply a gel top coat on regular nail varnish. 

  • Step 1: Clean and prepare your nails by trimming, filing, and buffing them.
  • Step 2: You can consider using a base coat. This step is optional. 
  • Step 3: Coat regular varnish on your nails. If you want a thicker layer, apply double coatings. It’s up to your preference. 
  • Step 4: To protect the strength and cleanliness of your nails, wait until they are thoroughly dry. It’s best to give them at least 24 hours before coating the gel polish. 
  • Step 5: After the regular varnish is completely dry, it’s time to apply the gel top polish to it.

Remember to cover with a thin top coat and wait until your gel polish dries after a few minutes.

While this technique may take time, it provides a smooth finish, which is favorable if you want thicker coats. 

However, it’s recommended that you need to use the gel top coat, and regular nail varnish sparingly. When thick nail varnish dries, it becomes brittle, but when the gel top coating cures, it becomes flexible.

This creates an undesirable combination where the gel top polish may peel off, or the thick nail varnish may break, and crack. Ultimately, this will leave you with poor results.

Step 6: Place your nails under a LED or UV light to cure them. 

Step 7: Remove the residue by rubbing alcohol once you’ve completed all the steps. Alternatively, you can still remove the sticky residue without alcohol at home if you want something less harsh.

How To Remove Gel Top Coat On Regular Nail Polish?

removing gel polish from regular polish

The gel top coat will plasticize after you cure your nails under a LED or UV lamp. 

The polish will only get softer and separate from your nails if you soak them in acetone.

Therefore, acetone-based products can remove the gel top coat on regular nail varnish. Follow the steps below to do this:

1. Put your nails in warm water to soak.

Ensure your fingertips are water-soaked for 10 – 15 seconds before using any equipment. This way, the gel polish is softer, making the removal process easier.

2. Gently file the gel polish.

Remove the glossy finish of the top coat using a buffer or nail file. By doing this, the acetone will be able to penetrate faster and more effectively. 

3. Soak your nails in acetone. 

Use small cotton pads soaked in acetone, and place them over your nails. 

Wrap aluminum foil around the fingers to accelerate the breakdown. Wait for 10 – 20 minutes. 

4. Scrape the gel coat.

Using a cuticle scraper, remove the gel polish carefully. The gel should easily come off your nails. If not, repeat the steps above. 

5. Apply nail & cuticle oil.

Your nails are often dry after this removal process. For this reason, it is best to use cuticle oil and hand cream to moisturize them. 

Wrapping Up 

Can you use a gel top coat on regular nail polish? Yes! After the ordinary varnish is thoroughly dry, it’s possible to apply a gel polish over it.

However, this method has both its pros and cons. Be sure to consider this before opting for this manicure. 

If you decide to use this technique, follow our guides above to have a glossy finish. Finally, remember to use the correct method to remove the gel top coat.

I hope you have found this article helpful, and thanks for reading!