Nail Bonder and Primers: Are They The Same?




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You may be making an attempt at applying gel polish yourself for the first time but, for one reason or another, you’ve forgotten to purchase a nail bonder. If you have some primer on hand you may be wondering if it can do the same job you needed your nail bonder to do. So, I’ll help you find out whether nail bonders and primers are the same. 

Nail bonders and primers are not the same. They perform the same function in that they de-grease the nail and bond the nail plates to the coating, but nail bonders cannot be used in regular nail polishing. This is because nail bonders have similar consistencies with gel polish and as such, need to be cured under a UV light or Led lamp. 

I will explain to you the purpose of nail bonders and the process of applying them during your gel polishing. I will also examine the difference between a primer and a nail bonder and explain why they can’t necessarily be used interchangeably. 

What Is Nail Bonder Used For?

Nail Bonders function as degreasers for your nails. It removes oils from your nails and debris that will prevent the gel from sticking to your nails. As the name suggests, it also helps to fasten your gel polish onto your nail plate so that it lasts longer. 

They are designed to specifically bind with your nail that is made of keratin to maximize adhesion and prevent the pain from lifting. If you’ve ever wondered why gel nail polish is so difficult to be removed, then you’ll have the nail bonder to thank for that. The bond sticks to both your nails and your paint, acting as a fastener. 

AIMEILI Nail Prep Bond Primer, UV LED Gel Foundation for Acrylic Powder and Builder Gel

How To Apply Gel Using Nail Bonder -Step By Step Guide

Firstly, if you have any gel from previous polishing on your nails, you need to have those removed. 

Make sure to carefully and properly push back your cuticles, this will allow your nails to have a wide enough surface for your gel to be placed. It also helps prevent you from getting the bonder underneath your cuticles. Bonders are damaging to cuticles, so it’s best to avoid having them exposed to the substance. 

It will also cause your polish to lift if any of the substances get on them. 

You will need a bit of a textured surface for both the bonder and the gel to stick to. So, ensure to buff your nails. Ensure your buffer is a 200 or higher grit. If you frequently polish your nails, it’s best to avoid over buffing nails that were buffed previously. 

ForPro Yellow Pedicure Block, 220/220 Grit, Three-Sided Pedicure Nail Buffer, 3.5”L x 1.25”W x 1”H, Yellow, 15-Count

Avoid this by trying to mainly buff the new growth. Repeated buffing of nails can make them become weak and brittle. Plus, buffing too much can cause your gel to lift as well. 

You just need enough of a textured service.

Your nail bonder often covers the next three steps, but I will also mention the alternatives if you’re looking for a less adhesive method. Your nails need to be cleansed from any remaining debris or grease that may be on your nails. As mentioned before nail bonder acts as a degreaser, so at this point you can apply it here. 

Apply a thin layer and remember to avoid the cuticles. 

Alternatively, you can use rubbing alcohol to remove the grease from your nails. This step cannot be avoided. The oils from your skin easily get onto your nail surface and will ruin the finish of your polish and it will not last long either. 

Your nails need to be dehydrated which the nail bonder also covers. So, if you used the nail bonder you have already covered this step. 

If you did not use bonder in the previous step, you can use acetone here to dry the nails out. Ensure it is 100% acetone. Let your nails sit for a little before moving to the next step. 

Eternal 100% Pure Acetone – Quick Professional Ultra-Powerful Nail Polish Remover for Natural, Gel, Acrylic, Shellac Nails and Dark Colored Paints (8 FL. OZ.)

If you have not used the nail bonder up to this point, you will use it here. The nail bonder will seep into the grits you made from buffing in the earlier step and both harden your nail as well as make it adhesive enough for your coats to stick to it. 

You’ve finally reached the step where you apply your gel base. Once you’ve applied it while carefully avoiding your cuticles, you will need to place your hand either in a LED Lamp or UV Lamp. The LED Lamp will work quicker than the UV Lamp. 

I would recommend using the LED because it gives you less exposure to UV rays. Either way, you cannot avoid this step. Your bonder and your nail base both have chemicals in their formulas that need to be cured by the UV light for them to harden. 

Next, choose your favorite gel color and paint your nails. Once you’ve painted them, place them once again under the LED or UV Lamp. Apply further coats as needed and repeat the curing process between coats. 

Easkep UV LED Nail Lamp 86W Nail Dryer With LED UV Light for Nails Lamp 4 Timer Setting Auto Sensor, Temperature Protection Gel Nail Polish Curing Dryer for Home and Salon

Next, apply your top coat then cure once again. Afterward, wipe your nails once again with some alcohol to remove that extra film that forms on top of your nails during the curing process. 

Remember when we dehydrated our nails? That’s neither good for your nails nor skin, so you need to rehydrate. Apply some cuticle oil around the edges of your finished nails and moisturize accordingly. 

Nail & Cuticle Care by CND, SolarOil for Dry, Damaged Cuticles, Infused with Jojoba Oil & Vitamin E for Healthier, Stronger Nails

Are Nail Bonders And Primers The Same?

While you can replace the bonder in this process with nail primer, they are not the same thing. Below, I will discuss the difference. 

Nail bonders and primers have similar functions in that it removes debris and prepare the nails for the coming coats. However, their formulas are quite different and their bonding and curing process will be different as well. 

Difference Between Nail Bonder And Primer

The major difference between nail bonders and primers is that the formulas are different and require a different process to dry. As nail bonders are more suited for gel polishes, it is best to use them with this type of polishing. 

Nail bonders have some of the same chemical properties as gel polish which will require them to be cured by UV Light. For this reason, you don’t want to use a nail bonder when painting with acrylics or regular nail polish. They will not dry properly. 

They will need UV rays to cure. UV rays are ineffective on regular nail polish as there are no chemicals that will react to the light. Primers, on the other hand, can be used in any of the polishing methods. 


If you would really like to avoid using nail bonders then you can. Primers work effectively on gel nails as well as acrylic nails. They are however not the same as they cannot be used interchangeably.

If you want to learn more about a primer on acrylic nails you can read about it here.


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