Can You Use Topcoat As Base Coat

Nails are everything, especially to women and girls out there. While it’s easy to set an appointment with your nail artist, it’s essential that you also know what they are doing. So whether you go to the nail salon or do your nails yourself, can you use a base coat as a topcoat and vice versa?

use a top coat as a base coat

Is it OK to use a base coat as a topcoat and vice versa?

To answer this question briefly, yes—you can use a base coat as a topcoat for your nails. You may also use a top coat as a base coat. However, keep in mind that there is a chance you might not get the same results if you interchange the coats’ usage.

There are also cases where if you use the wrong coat, it can harm your nails. Whether it’s manicure or pedicure, using the wrong cover can make it less durable. Your nail color might peel and chip easily.

What is a base coat and topcoat’s primary function?

Base coats are used to help the nail polish stick to the nail. It is like tape that ensures your nail polish will stick and last longer. On the other hand, topcoats are used to protect nail polish from damage and the environment.

Although both base and topcoats have the same ingredients, they are used in different proportions. The base coat has more sticky resins, while the topcoat has more film formers. Thus, if you interchange the two coats, you might not get the regular nail polish results you deem to have.

Reasons why you should not use a base coat as a topcoat

Although it is possible to use a base coat as a topcoat and vice versa, we now know the side effects if we interchange its use. Therefore, there are also reasons why you should not use a base coat as a topcoat. Here are among those reasons.

It cannot provide adequate protection to your nail polish.

Base coats are used mainly to help the nail polish stick to the nail. With that, it has a stickier and softer layer compared to topcoats. If you use it as a topcoat, chances where dirt, light, water, and chemicals can quickly get to your nail polish.

Also, other base coat brands are tackier layers. So if you use it as a top coat, it will not protect your nails from the environment. Think of it this way: using base coats as a topcoat is like using a cotton pillow to protect you against pins.

It will not bond with your nail polish effectively.

Base coats are applied before the nail polish, and it has a reason behind it. It is made mainly to bond your base nails to nail polish. Without the base coat, your nail polish will not last long.

Your nail polish will lose its gloss.

Base coats do not have a gloss effect. Since it is used to bond the nail and nail polish, using it as a top coat will not give you a shiny finish. Although there are some base coats with gloss, they will not last long compared to topcoats.

Reasons why you should not use a top coat as a base coat

Now that you know why base coats should not be used as topcoats, here are some reasons why you should not do it vice versa as well:

It will not stick to your nail plate.

As mentioned earlier, a base coat has a tackier formula compared to topcoats. Since a base coat’s purpose is to keep the nail polish intact with your nails, topcoats will not be as effective. On the other hand, a topcoat’s purpose is to protect the nail polish, and using it as a base coat will not make a strong foundation.

It will not protect your nails from damage and stain.

One of the main functions of base coats is protecting the original nail from stains. Nail polishes tend to stain and damage your natural nails. Without a proper base coat, your nails will turn yellow, or worse. It could end up as a dead nail.

With that, it is essential to the right base coat before applying nail polish. Topcoats do not have the same elements as base coats that can guarantee protection. So, if you use a top coat as a base coat, do not be shocked if your nails will stain.

How do a 2-in-1 base coat and topcoat work?

You might be wondering why there are 2 in 1 base and topcoats. Some brands offer such, which means this can be used both as base and topcoats. However, it is not highly recommendable by many nail experts because, again, both coats have a different purpose.

2 in 1 base coat and topcoats might be as effective as using two different bases. However, keep in mind that not all all-in-one products are excellent. As for nail coats, a 2 in 1 product might not provide the best protection for your nails.

How to use base coats and topcoats

When prepping your nails, it is essential to prioritize your nail’s protection and safety. Once you’re done cleaning your nails, it’s time for nail polish. Here is how you should use base coats and topcoats in nail prepping:

1.      First, you need to apply a base coat to your nails. As we recall, a base coat will serve as a tape or anchor for your nail polish to last long. If you don’t use a base coat, there is a tendency that your nail polish will wear off after a few days.

2.      Apply a generous amount of base coat on your nail plates. Ensure all areas are covered so that the nail polish will not stain through.

3.      Let the base coat dry for a minute.

4.      After that, apply your desired nail polish. Make sure to do two nail polish coats for best results. Let the polish dry.

5.      Once the nail polish is dry, apply the topcoat. Just like the base coat, apply a generous amount on top. Topcoats will make your nail polish shiny and protected from water, light, UV, and other elements that could harm your nails.

6.      Let the topcoat dry and viola! Your nails don’t only look good, but it’s protected for the outside world.


To sum everything up, interchanging base coats and topcoats is doable. However, you need to remember that each type of coat has its use and purpose. Using them vice versa will disrupt its purpose and can harm your nails instead. 

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