Can You Put Regular Nail Polish Over Gel, Polygel, Or Dip Powder?

We love fresh mani-pedis, but sometimes date night is in that in-between-appointments stage. So now you are looking for a quick touch-up. Can you put regular polish over gel polish, polygel, or dip powder in a pinch if there is no time to get into the salon? We have taken the time to explore this question and have an answer for you.

Yes, you can cover up gel polish, however, you may not be satisfied with the results. Painting regular nail polish over gel polish, polygel, or dip powder might highlight the blemishes you're trying to hide.

If you still have some additional questions, don't worry. In this post, we'll discuss the topic in more detail. We'll discuss the effects of using regular polish and top coats over gel, dip powder, or polygel. We'll also dive into when and when not to use acetone as a remover. Without further ado, let's get into it.

Woman applying red nail polish by herself, Can You Put Regular Nail Polish Over Gel, Polygel, Or Dip Powder?

Defining These Products

Gel polish is a regular polish alternative. It's made with acrylic oligomers and acrylic monomers. These ingredients bond together under UV light. This is called the curing process.

Polygel is like gel polish but not as dense. Some people prefer polygel because the fumes are not as strong. Both gel and polygel need the curing process to set.

Dip powder, like gel polish and polygel, is a stronger nail polishing technique. The main difference is the application.

Getting a pedicure at the salon


With gel polish, you paint all layers on. With dip powder, you paint a base and dip your nail into a powder that attaches to the base and is sealed with a clear coat. The type of clear coat is what defines whether or not you will use a UV light.

The most important thing to note about these products is that they cure, making them more dense, long lasting, and difficult to remove.

What Happens If You Use Nail Polish over Gel Nails?

Gel polish has many advantages including longevity, instant drying, and durability. Regular nail polish takes about 15 minutes to dry, and even then, sometimes longer. Regular nail polish is more likely to chip and is easier to take off, regardless of whether that is an accident or intentional.

If you decide to go with gel polish versus regular nail polish, your manicure should last longer. The rate of growth of your nail bed is the same regardless of the polish type you use. It's not so much that you don't have to get a manicure as often, but it takes a lot more to damage them.

So what happens if you put regular nail polish right over the top of your gel nails? Nothing. It is not harmful to you, nor will it complicate your next manicure appointment. Because of the thickness level of both types of polishes, there is a list of problems you might encounter.

Gel nail polish is a lot thicker than regular nail polish. This means that if you try and cover up the "empty part" on a chipped gel nail, it will be visible. If your old gel manicure is still well intact, a quick regular polish job over the top wouldn't be as noticeable. 

Another problem you might encounter is full coverage. It can often take a few coats of nail polish for the color to be as bold as you would like it. Be sure not to leave any part of your gel polish visible or it might give away the fact that you are trying to cheat the system!

Can You Put A Regular Top Coat over Gel Nails?

Woman getting her nails done at the salon

It may be that you just need a fresh coat of "shiny" for your manicure. Say your gel polish is still intact and all it is missing is some top coat. Try it! There really are no negative effects of putting a regular top coat over your gel, dip powder, or polygel nails.

The application of a regular top coat, even over gel nails, does not require a UV light. You will have to wait at least 15 minutes for it to dry, but it shouldn't be that noticeable. Make sure you don't smudge them in the process!

Also, putting a regular top coat over gel polish will not make your next manicure any more difficult. We will explore how to remove gel polish later in this article, but as for the top coat, give it a try see how you like it.

Can You Use Nail Polish Remover on Gel Nails?

Okay, so what happens if you don't? Or what if you don't like the regular polish you were experimenting with? The next logical step is to take it off, right? Be sure to avoid nail polish removers with acetone. This is most, but not all, of nail polish removers.

Acetone will remove the polish or top coat you are working with, but it will also break down the gel polish as well. There are many different workflows for nail techs to remove gel polish, but the most common practice involves just a few steps.

How Gel Polish Is Removed

Removing pink nail polish on her nails

Our nail people all do an awesome job. That is why we visit them, right? Well, sometimes it is not in the cards. You might want to know how to remove gel polish at home. We are going to brief you on how this is done and why it is the only way that works.

Nail techs usually will start with filing the gel top coat off your nails. They may do this with either a nail drill or a regular nail file. This is done to break the seal of the gel. Gel manicures are appealing because they are harder to ruin.

So, when you are ready for something new, you have to file off the protective seal to start breaking down the rest of the gel.

The next step most likely includes 100% acetone. Your nail person might have you sink your fingers in a bowl of acetone for a few minutes to soak. They might even set that bowl of acetone in a larger bowl with a little bit of warm or hot water to speed up the process.

Instead, they might wrap your nails in cotton soaked with acetone. Either way, you are in the soaking process. This usually takes around 10 to 15 minutes.

Here's a tip for when you make your next nail appointment—let them know if you have gel on to allow them to schedule time for the removal part of the process.

After your soaking session, it is going to be a little rough. Your fingers will probably look pretty dry. Don't worry though; the ashy look is not permanent.

Once the gel is completely removed, with the help of a cuticle pusher, you are ready for the rest of your manicure. This will include cuticle removing, shaping, buffing, and prepping for polish!

How to Get Nail Polish Off Gel Nails

A manicurist applying red nail polish coating on her clients nails

So, we have learned what it looks like to take gel polish off, and we know that you must use acetone. What if you want to take your nail polish job off of your gel polish manicure? Do not use acetone. Acetone will break down the gel polish, leaving you with a look you like even less.

There are options for non-acetone-based nail polish remover, and they are not too hard to find. Your local drug store will most likely carry nail polish remover without acetone. It is sure to carry nail polish remover with acetone as well, so be on the lookout for the difference.

Another option is to use a completely different product such as rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol contains properties that break down regular nail polish. It might take a little longer than acetone, but it will not ruin your gel polish.

Final Thoughts

Applying red nail polish on her nails

Whatever the reason you can't make it into the beauty salon, we have got you covered. Here we learned the difference between gel polish (and its cousins) and regular polish. Now that we know the products, we also know what we can and can't use to remove them.

Don't forget that acetone will break down gel polish, polygel, and dip powder. If that is your goal for your nails, perfect. Be sure to visit your nearest drugstore or beauty supply facility to find some acetone.

If you are looking for a quick cover-up, nail polish is your best but a not prettiest option. If you want to take that off as well, be sure to use rubbing alcohol or non-acetone nail polish remover.

Now, navigating that between-appointments life shouldn't be too hard.

For more articles like this one, check out some of the following links:

What Can I Use As A Base Coat For Nails?

Do Nail Polish Strips Damage Nails?

Can You Paint Over Shellac Nails?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *