Can You Paint Over a Gel Manicure

Can You Paint Over a Gel Manicure?

Gel manicures have gained immense popularity due to their long-lasting and polished finish. A frequently asked question among nail enthusiasts is: Can you paint over a gel manicure?

What is a Gel Manicure?

Gel manicures are a modern nail treatment that uses a gel polish cured under a UV or LED light.

This unique curing process ensures the polish lasts longer and is more resistant to chips and scratches compared to regular nail polish.

Gel nails differ from acrylic nails and can be removed by soaking them in acetone for about 15 minutes.

Can You Paint Over a Gel Manicure?

Yes, it’s possible to paint over gel nails with regular nail polish.

Gel nails have been a popular choice among women due to their natural appearance and strength.

They are made from a substance called polymethyl methacrylate and are applied in two steps: a base coat for adhesion and the gel itself in thin layers, each cured under a UV light.

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The result is a manicure that can last up to three weeks without chipping or peeling.

Advantages of Painting Over a Gel Manicure

Quick Color Change

Allows for a swift change of nail color without the need to remove the gel. This is especially beneficial for those who want to switch up their look frequently without the hassle of a full manicure.


The underlying gel coat remains protected when you paint over it.

This means that the strength and durability of the gel manicure are retained, even with a new layer of color.


Offers the freedom to switch between various designs and colors.

This is perfect for those who love to experiment with different nail art designs.

Disadvantages and Concerns


There’s a potential risk of the polish chipping or peeling, especially if the overlaying polish isn’t compatible with the gel beneath.

Texture Mismatch

The texture between regular polish and gel coat might not match, leading to an uneven finish.

This can be noticeable, especially in certain lighting conditions.

Removal Difficulty

Multiple layers of polish can be challenging to remove.

Using regular polish over gel means you’re adding more layers, which can complicate the removal process.

How to Paint Over a Gel Manicure: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 01: Preparation

  1. Cleaning: Start by ensuring your nails are thoroughly clean and dried. Use a lint-free wipe soaked with rubbing alcohol to remove any residue.
  2. Buffing: Lightly buff the surface of your nails. This creates a rougher surface, ensuring better adhesion of the polish.

Step 02: Choosing the Right Polish

Opt for brands or types known to work well over gel. Some polishes are specifically designed for use over gel manicures, ensuring better compatibility and longevity.

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Step 03: Application

  1. Base Coat: Consider applying a base coat. This can provide a smoother surface for the colored polish.
  2. Colored Polish: Paint with the desired color. Remember to apply in thin, even coats.
  3. Top Coat: Finish with a top coat. This adds shine, protects the colored polish, and can extend the life of your manicure.

Step 04: Drying and Setting

  1. Drying Time: Allow sufficient time for the polish to dry. The average drying time for a gel-based polish manicure is about 30 minutes.
  2. Speeding Up the Process: There are nail drying sprays and drops available that can expedite the drying process.

Best Practices

  • Use non-acetone nail polish remover for any corrections.
  • Avoid applying thick layers of polish.
  • Allow time between coats to prevent smudging.

Alternatives to Painting Over a Gel Manicure

  • Consider using nail stickers or decals.
  • Optional for a gel polish change at a professional salon.
  • Explore combining gel polish with various nail art techniques.

Frequently Asking Questions

1. What happens if you paint over gel nails?

Painting over gel nails is possible, but it’s essential to follow specific steps to ensure the polish adheres properly.

2. Can you paint over fake gel nails?

Yes, with the right preparation, you can paint over fake gel nails.

3. Can I add regular nail polish to gel?

While you can layer regular nail polish over gel, it’s crucial to ensure the gel is dry and properly prepped.

4. Can I put a top coat over gel nails?

Yes, a top coat can be applied over gel nails for added protection and shine.


While it’s possible to paint over a gel manicure, it’s essential to follow the right steps and be aware of the pros and cons. Whether you decide to paint over your gel nails or opt for other alternatives, the key is to ensure the health and beauty of your nails.