A Guide to Mixing Gel Nail Polish with Regular Nail Polish




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Having those sexy-looking nails is most women’s dream. Right, girls? Luckily, you don’t need to drive back and forth to the nail salon to get your nails perfectly done. Aside from compromising your schedule, the end product may not please you. If a handcrafted nail manicure fascinates you, mixing and matching things may compliment your style. And for those who are burning with curiosity, can you mix gel nail polish with regular? 

With thoroughness and patience, it is possible to mix both types of manicures. You first need to apply the regular coat. Once dry, add the gel polish as a topcoat. You can be as creative and fun as you wish by adding designs or contrasting colors. It gives a hardy and chic final look, which you can enjoy for weeks. 

This technique is also called the gelly sandwich and is so popular among women. The sticking point, so far, is the amount of time you need to dedicate to achieve salon-like nails – possibly an hour or so. Nonetheless, a cheap investment if we get to compare it to traditional coatings as it stays glossy for a few weeks. But since gel manicure uses UV light, is it safe? How do you combine it with a regular coat like a pro? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty!  

How Is A Traditional Nail Polish Different from A Gel Nail Polish? 

The mixture of gel and regular nail polish gets a handful of names from nail enthusiasts. Some call it a gelly sandwich (or gel sandwich), while others reference it as shellac gel nails. Even so, they both use two types of nail enamel coating: regular and gel. The only difference is that with a gelly sandwich, the regular polish is applied between the topcoat and gel base. Hence, the name. On the other hand, Shellac is a renowned professional product line from the CND brand which proportionately blends gel and polish. It is usually applied with a top coat and two colored sheens.

CND Vinylux Longwear Top Coat, 0.5 fl oz, Nail Polish for Brilliant Shine

Now, if we’re going to talk about conventional and gel nail coats, the former becomes superior when it comes to variant colors, as well as ease of application and removal. But if you prefer sporting a sleek nail look for up to four weeks without chipping or fading, a gel manicure can be your pristine fashion companion. 

Let’s have a close look at what singles them out from each other:

Regular Nail Polish 

As per the 2020 data, almost 100 million women in the United States depend on nail care products for an improved physical look, and of course, to protect their nails at the same time. Regular nail coatings are by far the most popular and accessible option among households due to some good reasons: incredibly easy to apply, thousands of shades to choose from, and available at a cheap price range. You essentially need to spread on the base coat, polish, and topcoat after cleaning and shaping your nails, and you’re done! 

Unlike gel manicures, a standard coat can dry effortlessly under normal air. It stemmed from old China dynasties consisting of various ingredients, including vegetable dyes and beeswax. Though, the ingredients are now refined to ensure nail luster and health. They protect your fingernails from potential snapping and drying. 

It is the kind you would love to give a try at home, especially if you tend to change outfits too often – with nail polish as a perfect cohort.  The best part is that you don’t need to visit a nearby salon to get your hands fixed. Apply the manicure at your home with no special or expensive equipment. And since the classic polish is painless to remove, you can shift to any color whenever you desire. 

But on the negative aspect, it is quick to get damaged and chipped, plus it might take you longer to dry it out entirely. A regular polish doesn’t make your nails look gorgeous for a long time too, which means you need to do reapplications and touch-ups persistently. That’s where gel nail coating comes to the rescue. 

Gel Nail Polish

As its name suggests, gel manicure is a gel-based nail varnish that utilizes a UV light for a lustrous finish. So as you guess, the method of application is rather diverse and intricate. Some products allow you to stick to just one plain color, but most are available in varying shades. They are also a bit more expensive when compared to traditional coatings since you need to buy a lamp separately. Certain brands, however, come with a small UV light as part of their offerings. 

Talking about perquisites, this type of nail enamel is a lot thicker. It is said to be two to three times longer than a standard manicure. So, you can enjoy flaunting it for 3 to 4 weeks without dealing with common nail issues, such as cracking. Just be careful not to spread the gel over when placing your fingers underneath the lamp because once toughened, you will have a trenchant time removing any smear. Apply only thin coats so you can have your fingernails cured aptly. 

As the gel manicure is so strong, you will have a struggle redoing or changing the color every time. You might actually spend more time removing the polish than beautifying your nails. That’s why some opt to paint over gel nails due to a less stressful process. So, it’s specifically an ideal option for ladies who have a hectic timetable shifting from one nail color to another and those who use their hands a lot (e.g., gardening). If you have flaking or unhealthy nails or fragile nail beds, though, a gel-based manicure may not be your thing. The same goes for women with skin disorders that affect their cuticles. 

Since you can only apply the thinnest layers, gel polish doesn’t provide adequate strength to natural nails versus other gels. It is simply a chip-free, smirch-proof, and long-lasting nail color mostly ideal for women who prefer fashion over anything else. But like regular coating, it has a running consistency. You can apply it over soft or hard gel or straight to your nails. 

Thanks to the continuous development in the nail industry, some gel polish brands can now be air-dried. That means less waiting time to adore your newly painted shiny nails! Perhaps you are worried about the cost you will incur getting a UV light. If that’s the case, you can use an ice bath as an alternative. It will freeze and dry the polish instantly. Though, clearly, you cannot expect the same quality as using UV light. If you prefer a similar tool but it is gentler on the skin, you can otherwise use a UV or LED lamp. 

UV LED Nail Lamp, GreenLife 54W 18pcs UV LED Nail Light Portable Nail Lamp Professional Fast Curing nail Dryer for Acrylic nails Gel polish Travel Home School Office use Auto-Sensor - white or pink

Some people mistake gel nails with acrylics, which should not be the case. It is not a type of fake nail, to begin with, unlike acrylic. And while it is capable of changing different colors, it cannot add length to your natural nails. 

Are Gel Nails Bad for You? 

As the nail community emphasizes: it is not because of gel polish why nails hastily get ruined. Most of the time, bad nail techs cover the part. It won’t cause lasting damage since it is directly applied to the nails. Be sure to do proper maintenance to maintain its glow, and when it is time to remove it, practice caution. Your cuticles and nail beds are the ones that will suffer terribly.  

You can either go to a salon and have the removal process carried out by a professional or do it in the comfort of your home. Providing, of course, you are well acquainted with the steps. Similar to human hair, nails are made up of keratin too. Therefore, it is crucial to allow your nails to rest between applications. Doing so will sustain their gleam and well-being. 

Here’s how to remove gel polish properly at home. 

  1. Soak your nails in acetone (100% acetone, to be precise) for ten minutes or until the polish is ready to strip off – typically when the edges of the manicure begin to haul up genuinely. Use cotton balls if required. 
  2. Get a cuticle pusher or any similar tool. Gently push the gel. If it doesn’t slide off easily, soak your nails once again for a few more minutes. 
  3. Now, you will need to file off the remaining color on your nails. Use a buffer or nail file to do this. 
  4. Put on cuticle oil to hydrate your nails, though make sure to take a break because this process could be exhausting for your nail beds. 

The easiest method is using remover wraps. Simply wrap your nails, leave for ten to fifteen minutes, and let the acetone do its job. Get rid of the excess gel with a buff or file. 

UV light is another core reason why many are ambiguous to use gel-based polish. Credibly because of the safety hazard. Exposure to the light can stress out your skin. In rare and severe cases, it might increase the risk of cancer. As long as you have the necessary protection, you can minimize these risks. The LED lamp, for instance, is believed to be a safer option than UV light owing to its less destructive feature. 

But whichever curing method you choose, make sure to get a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen to defend against possible skin damage. Top it up with UVA protective gloves. Remember to give your hands a break. For nail concerns, like weak cuticles, but want to add this form of manicure to your fashion wardrobe, it is best to consult a manicurist for extra assurance. 

Not only the gel polish poses harm but the regular manicure as well. Moisture is the main culprit. It sits under the nail for a week or so, which results in infections and ruined nails. That’s why you need to dry your nails off appropriately before using the manicure. 

How to Mix Regular and Gel Manicure

The process of combining regular and gel nail polish is similar to applying ordinary manicures. You have polish shades, a top coat, and a base coat. The UV or LED curing system is where the difference lies. 

Follow these steps to help you get started:

Prep your nails and grab the required tools 

Before going straight to the fun part, have these tools prepared on your table first: 

  • Nail polish/gel top coat 
  • Nail buffer 
  • Nail cleanser/wipes 
  • UV light or LED lamp 
  • Cuticle oil 

Maccibelle Cuticle Oil Milk and Honey 0.5 oz - Heals Dry Cracked Cuticles

Wash your hands as you normally would. Use the nail buffer to buff your nails, then cut long cuticles. Remove dirt with an alcohol wipe to clear out water and dry up your nails. 

Apply regular polish 

Pick your favorite shade and spread it over to your nails. You may not want to make it too thick; otherwise, it could mess up your gel top coat. Let it dry for several hours, at least 4 to 6 hours. Better yet, give it a full 24 hours. 

Apply gel polish 

Be sure your nails are 100% dry before applying a layer of gel top coat. Start from the base up to the tip using a thin coat. It will encourage apt curing and avoid fizzed, clumpy gel manicures. Don’t forget to cap the free edge. Wipe any gel on your cuticle or skin to save yourself from the trouble of removing it later on.  

Cure nails in a UV or LED lamp

Position your hand underneath LED/UV light to dry the manicure, usually within two minutes if you’re using a UV lamp. For LED light, it could take around thirty seconds. Protect your hands by applying sunscreen and wearing manicure gloves. If you think the finished product isn’t sturdy enough to handle wear and tear, you can add one or two more layers of gel coat. Cure under the lamp afterward. 

Wipe off sticky layer 

Use a lint-free cleanser or disposable alcohol wipe to remove tacky layers on the top of your nails. As possible, use a separate wipe for all your nails and avoid using cotton balls due to lint residue. 

You can check out this video tutorial:

How Long Does a Nail Polish Last? 

In particular, the gel nail polish lasts for two to three weeks. But if you play your cards right, you can have it sitting for four weeks straight. No chipping, no fading, and definitely no breaking. Proper nail care is your best armor. It will keep your nails looking good for longer while sustaining their health. 

Cuticle oil is known for preserving the softness of skin and elasticity of nails, so apply adequate drops regularly. Massage it to the skin on all sides of your nails. The oil also keeps nails growing strong so that the next time you want a home salon appointment, they are fully ready.

The gel polish, equipment used, and curing process also play a role in how long your gel nails will last. Don’t settle for mediocre products and defective tools. Cure your newly painted nails completely. And just because gel polish advertises itself as a chip-free manicure doesn’t mean you can use your nails as tools. You still need to wear rubber gloves when doing dishes, gardening, or washing up. Limit your time in the tub and under steamy showers as they cause the polish to lift. Better to be safe than sorry! 

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Nail Polish? 

Don’t frown over out-of-stock regular or UV gel nail polish. You don’t even need an urgent visit to a nearby store. Try these alternatives instead and have your dream nail art in just minutes! 

Mixed Regular Polish

The mixture of classic manicures is every girl’s favorite. Let those creative ideas flow! Either combine shades side by side or mix primary colors. Better to use the same brand of polish as they blend spotlessly.   


If you don’t have time for a nail makeover in the coming weeks and want to stick to a nail polish that will complement any outfit, we say go for gel polish and acrylic. It could last for up to 6 weeks with only minimal touch ups! 

Nail Tips 

Perhaps it’s time to get those stuck store-bought nail tips. Use it along with gel manicure. Paste over your existing nails with just simple steps similar to ordinary nail polish. 

Nail Decal 

Or what we call nail art, which comes hand in hand with gel coating. Its long-lasting formula is guaranteed to bait you. To learn more about nail decals I have written here how to do itHow to Make Nail Decals with a Stamper (5 Easy Steps).

So, ready to get started with your home manicure? 

Mixing gel and regular nail polish isn’t as complicated as you think. You neither have to be an experienced manicurist or a nail technician. With the guide above, you’re on your way towards achieving that radiant nail enamel you ever wanted. Enjoy stronger nails that are flexible and can withstand wear and tear. Although the process is more time-consuming and could cost you extra bucks than regular polish, it offers an attractive, non-chipping, longer-lasting manicure that will make your friends envious! 


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