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Gel polish top coat and base coat look similar except that they are in differently labeled bottles. That is why when people run out of one or the other, they wonder whether they can use a topcoat as a basecoat or vice versa.

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Gel polish base coat is formulated to act as a transition between the natural nail plate and the gel polish color. It acts like a double-sided tape. Gel polish top coat is formulated to have a mirror-like shine and to protect the color under it. It works as a sealer. These two products are structurally and functionally different and not interchangeable.

Gel top coat and gel base coat are not the same

Similar to a regular base coat and topcoat, a gel base coat is a bridge between the natural nail surface and the gel color polish. It is formulated to adhere to the nail surface better than the color polish.

On the other hand, the gel top coat’s purpose is to seal the gel color polish and gives it a mirror-looking shine with superior scratch-resistant.

You need both topcoat and base coat to have a long-lasting gel manicure.

With these distinctive differences in application, if you switch gel top coat for a base coat or vice versa, you alter their purposes and your gel manicure will not last up to its two-week normal time or might not be shiny at all.

Can you use a gel base and topcoat alone?

Yes, you can use a gel top coat as clear gel polish. There is no clear gel polish. If you just want a clear gel polish look on your nails, here is what you can do:

Prepare your nail surface the same way you do colors.Apply one layer of gel base coat and cure for 30 seconds.Apply a layer of gel top coat and cure for 30 seconds.Apply a second of gel top coat, cure for 30 seconds.

If the gel top coat you use is non- wiping one, you are done. Otherwise, you need to remove the residue layer with an alcohol-based cleaner.

Gel polish as a nail strengthener

Yes. With basecoat, 2 coats of color, and topcoat, gel polish adds an extra flexible and durable layer on the natural nails thus make it stronger as long as the gel polish is on the nails. However, gel polish is just a topical strengthener, it does not help make the natural nail stronger.

Can you put two coats of gel topcoat?

You can put two coats of gel top coat under these circumstances:

If your natural nails are thin, putting two layers of gel topcoats will increase the overall thickness of nails thus makes your nails thicker and less chance of breakage, splitting, or tearing.

If you want the mirror-shine of the gel topcoat to last because you work with your hands a lot or your nails come in contact with something abrasive, putting one more layer of gel top coat will ensure the pretty shine will stay on longer.

Can you put two coats of gel base coat?

Yes, you can put two coats of gel base coat. Doing this will make your thin and weak natural nails thicker so they will not break or tear easily.

Just make sure that you cure each layer separately for 45 seconds to prevent wrinkling or bubbling problems due to curing a thick gel base coat.

Be sure to cap the free edge to prevent premature peeling.

Can you use different brands for gel top coat and base coat?

Yes, you can use different brands for a gel top coat and basecoat. You should try them out on your nails, however, just to make sure that they work well together on your nails and last as long as they are expected so you will not have any surprises down the road.

If you do mix and match gel top coat and base coat, do use the quality brands that you already know that they last up to two weeks on your nails so you can prevent gel polish wrinkling problems.

Should you buy the gel base and top coat kit?

Many gel polish manufacturers sell gel top coat and base coat as a pair. I would suggest that you buy this if you do gel polish at home. Having one brand set will remove some mishaps that you might have when you use two different brands as they might not work well together.

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What happens if you do not use a gel polish base coat?

Since gel polish acts as a very good double-sided tape between a natural nail plate and gel polish color. If you do not use this gel base coat, you will lose the best feature that gel polish offers: the two-week-long wear.

One instance you do not use base coat is when you purposely want your gel polish last a few days or for the weekend only.

Also, without the base coat, your nail plate might be stained from the dark gel polish color that you apply directly on it.

Can you use a gel top coat as a base coat?

No. Gel top coat is not formulated to attach to the natural nail plate for two weeks. If you use a gel top coat as a base coat you will not have the long-lasting feature of gel polish that it is known for.

Also, gel base coats and gel top coats have different curing times. Failure to follow these curing times will result in improper curing and will reduce the expected two-week gel polish wear.

However, if you do not want your gel polish to last two weeks or more, you do not have to use a gel base coat so you do not have this long-lasting feature. The reason people do this because they do not want color polish on their nails. it could be either personal preference or job requirement and they only need the color polish on the nails for the weekend.

Putting gel topcoat on your nail plate before color polish to prevent your nails from getting stained from gel color polish.

Gel base coat sticky

Gel polish basecoat acts like double-sided tape. It is normal to be sticky to the touch even after it is cured under a UV light.

You should not wipe off the cured gel basecoat with any cleaner. Doing so will change the surface of the nail and the gel color that goes on next might not adhere well to the base coat and premature peeling or lifting will occur.

What can you use instead of a gel base coat?

If you do not have a gel base coat and you need to polish your nails for one day, you can use a gel top coat as a base coat. Keep in mind though, your gel polish can peel, chip, or lift away from your natural nails in a few days. Even though it looks unnecessary but this clear topcoat will prevent the gel polish color from staining your nails.

How to strengthen nails with gel polish

If you do not want any color on your nails and want to add some strength to your thin nails, gel basecoat and topcoat will be a good nail strengthener.

Both need to be applied thinly on the nails and cured under a UV light for 30 to 45 seconds separately.

With this option, you can just apply one layer of gel base coat and topcoat after a week to make your nails looking fresh again.

You could remove the gel base coat and top coat, trim your nails before preparing your nails to put them back on if you want to.

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The best gel base coat and topcoat brand

In my years of doing gel manicure for customers, the brand that I buy and always used is Gellish. The base coat bottle has a short, stiff brush so applying a thin coat is easy. The topcoat has the right consistency to my personal preference and works well under different temperatures year-round.

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What are the popular brands for gel base coat and topcoat?

They all make good products. However, purchasing them for use really comes down to a personal decision.