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Can I Paint Over Gel Nails? [All That You Need To Know]

Nothing beats getting fresh gel nails. The design is terrific, the length is flawless! But as time passes, you start noticing that your faultless nails are not so perfect anymore. Growth gaps, scratched tips, breaking edges; they all start to appear. At the same time, nobody is keen to book another salon appointment and spend more of their hard earned money. It is time to get creative. So, what is to be done?

One common question that people ask in this position is, can I paint over my gel nails? You can paint over gel nails with both traditional nail polish and gel polish; both do not harm your nails or the gel coat underneath. They can both be used to extend the manicure and refill any gaps that begin to arise.

Before proceeding, you will need to make sure that you understand the difference between gel nails and gel polish.

Gel nails are artificial enhancements of your natural nail. They are used for making your nails look longer or to fill in a broken piece, for example.

Gel polish is a polish. It is not a tool for elongating your nails. It is a type of polish painted directly on the nails and ‘baked’ with a UV light. If you break it, you break the nail together with the gel.

Also, before painting, you need to make certain preparations.

File your nails to remove the most upper layer of your polish. You need a rougher base for your polish, otherwise the colour does not hold.

You can use any type of nail polish. The process by which they are produced is basically the same, only the brands are different.

Let us know take a closer look at your options when it comes to painting over gel nails. We will be answering the most common questions so be sure to keep on reading until the end to get all the information you need!

Can You Use Nail Polish Over Gel Nails?

Gel nails are extensions placed over your nail. Their purpose is to make your nails look longer. Another usage is to refill a broken piece of your natural nail.

Gel polish is a polish used to paint your colors with and fixed under a UV light.

It is important to make the difference when you do your research on painting your nails with an ordinary polish.

The good news is you can use polish on both.

When you want to remove it, use acetone free remover. Acetone damages the gel base.

In fact, it is used to remove gel altogether.

If an electric file is not available, some salons soak each finger in acetone for at least 20 minutes or wrap each nail in foil and acetone-soaked cotton. Again, this is used for removing the entire gel layer.

Before you proceed to applying any colour, make sure you prepare your nails in the following way.

  1. Prepare your skin.
  2. Buy the proper file.
  3. Smooth out the top coat.

First of all, examine your skin around the nails thoroughly. Hydrate the cuticles with an enriching cuticle oil (this is my favorite and go to on Amazon).

Then, cut anything unnecessary that you notice growing around. The skin around provides an essential and healthy base for your nail and later on, the colour. Besides, you don’t want to paint any skin by accident.

Then, research what type of file suits you best for your purpose. Some are straight, curved, rounded or a combination.

Since you are mainly going to remove the top coat, you will need a basic straight one with a bit of a rougher surface.

You have to remove the top just enough to provide a good base for the polish and not damage the gel base underneath.

At the same time, you can notice that your nails need a bit a shaping around the edges. In that case, you need a file curved according to the desired shape you want to achieve.

The final step is smoothing the top coat and removing the shine. Without it, the colour on it has a solid base to hold on to. It also provides much easier application.

Can You Put Regular Nail Polish Over Gel Base Coat?

Yes, regular gel polish can be applied over gel base coat. It works even better, if it is good quality and has opacity.

A darker colour stands out well over a lighter gel base and a lighter regular polish does not stand out so visibly on a darker gel base.

Remember, that curing the regular nail polish under a lamp is not possible. It is made of a completely different chemical formula.

However, there are a few options for curing traditional nail polish.


Use regular nail polish between the gel base and top coat.

Before applying the gel coat, let the nail polish dry for at least 24 hours. During this time, try not to damage it, as ordinary nail coloring is a lot more vulnerable to peeling off.

Regular Nail Polish Over Gel   

Do a regular gel manicure but skip the colour.

After that smooth the surface with the help of a file and apply traditional polish.

Apply Gelibility Technique  

This is a technique that allows for turning regular nail polish into a gel.

However, this is like asking for a gel manicure and not simply applying polish over gel.

Basically, you mix a substance with your polish and start applying coats and bases.

Can You Paint Over Gel Top Coat?

No. Nail polishes need a non-slick surface to hold onto. If you paint over a cured gel top coat, the surface is too smooth and ‘slippery’ and the polish starts peeling off very easily.

If you want to paint over gel, first remove the top coat with a rougher nail file. The gel top coat is the final layer when your gel manicure is prepared.

It is meant to provide shininess and a finished look of your nails.

Can You Paint Over Polygel Nails With Gel Polish?

Yes. You can paint over PolyGel nail with gel polish as well as traditional one.

After your PolyGel application, apply a layer of top coat before painting two layers of your most favorite colour!

PolyGel are the latest invention in the manicure world. They are a combination of acrylic and gel and united the best of both worlds.

It is still cured under UV light but it is a lot lighter. It is still new and available in several colors. If you want something catchy, you can apply gel polish on top of it!

How Do You Paint Gel Nails?

If you would like to apply regular nail polish over your gel nails, the most important thing to do is to remove the top coat.

This is the shine that gives your manicure a glittering and finished look. If you apply directly on it, your traditional nail polish will ‘slide’ and peel off very easily.

Later, if you want to change the colour, use acetone free remover as the substance damages the gel.

To make your colour last even longer, apply gel top coat on and then cure.

It is not always mandatory to go to a professional in order to have a fancy and luxurious manicure.

With a bit of practice and perfecting your skills, you can achieve one yourself at home! Let’s take a look at a few steps on how you can do your own gel polish nails:

File And Shape Your Nails As Desired

You always file and shape your nails before painting.

Remove Cuticles

Push back or cut any skin on your nail plate. Some people like to go to a professional, especially when cutting.

However, you can do this yourself with a good pair of cuticle trimmers and a pusher. This cost effective duo set of both tools from Amazon is perfect.

Apply Your Base Layer

Paint a very thin layer of gel base-coat and the cure.

Apply Two Thin Layers Of the Color

Proceed towards applying layers of the colour gently. Paint twice but with lower quantity.

Apply Top Gel

This is the grand finale of your manicure. Applying top gel will give your nails shine and completed look.

Remove The Tacky Remnants With Alcohol

Some gels leave sticky remnants around your nails after curing the top coat gel. Remove them with a cotton ball dipped in isopropyl alcohol.

In Summary

Now that we have explained the difference between gel nails and gel polish and cleared out that appointments at salons are not always mandatory, you are ready to show off your nails to the world!

If you are not as happy any more with your gels after two-three weeks (which is how long they typically last) or simply need a change, them with the good old air-drying nail polish.

Prior to that, make sure you file off the top coat.

Otherwise, the colour peels off in no time because it has nothing to hold onto.

After that, you are free to paint. Traditional nail polish does not harm your nails or the gel layer.

Also, remove cuticles and unnecessary skin, and moisturize. This gives a healthy and glowy look of your nails and your hands overall.

There are also several methods to paint nail polish over your gel – sandwich, no colour gel and gelibility method.

Finally, you can also apply polish on PolyGel nails. The method is still new but it is flexible and can be easily combined with gel and traditional nail polish.