Can You Paint Over Gel Nails Without Ruining Them?

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Can you paint over gel nails? Yes, you can, here’s how.

Gel nails have been popular for a while now, but if you’re one of those who love to change your nails regularly or your nails get easily ruined, they are probably one of the hardest manicures to change quickly.

One of the most popular questions I hear is, can you paint over gel nails? 

Yes, you can paint over gel nails, either with another gel or regular nail polish. It is very easy to do as long as you prep your nail properly and then repaints it in the correct method. 

In this post, I will give you a few easy steps to follow if you want to paint over gel nails and a quick guide on how to remove gel nails. 

What is a gel manicure?

Gel manicure is a gel-based nail polish that requires a UV or LED light to cure the nail polish to make it adhere and dry onto the nail.

The finished product looks very similar to regular nail polish, but gel nails are a lot stronger and last longer. They can last up to two to three weeks without chipping, whereas a regular nail polish would only last a few days. 

As they are so strong, it is hard to change them or redo them regularly; this had led to so many people wondering if it is possible to paint over gel nails.

The answer is yes, and its a very simple process to do.

Before you go ahead and paint over your gel nails, make sure you have a gel manicure and not acrylic nails. Although they are not much different, and you can paint over acrylics too, the process of doing that is slightly different. 

Acrylic nails are made up of an acrylic powder mixed with an acrylic monomer liquid, solidifying over the nail and hardening into the desired shape.

An easy way to tell the differences is that acrylic nails have a more natural-looking finish and are then painted over. In contrast, gel nails are generally applied as coloured nail polish.

Another thing to be careful of is how long you’ve had your gels on. Gel nails should only be on for about two to three weeks, so if you’ve had infills a few times or your gel nails have been on longer than the advised time, it’s best to get a new set done.

If you don’t redo them and keep painting over them, it can cause severe nail dehydration or damage to the nail bed and cuticles.

In this post, I will give you a few easy steps to follow if you want to paint over gel nails and a quick guide on how to remove gel nails.

How to prep a gel manicure for repainting

First of all, start by gently buffing off the topcoat layer so that it removes the shine from the nail, and you are left with a matte texture. 

Next, take a file and carefully file down the gel to blend into your natural nail to get rid of the gel’s ridges. You don’t need to file too much as you don’t want to file your actual nail, only the gel layer.

Wipe your nails so that there isn’t any dust left on the nails. Make sure that isn’t anything left, as it can get into the new coat of polish and could end up ruining them.

Apply a gel base coat to the nail to prepare the nail for colour; only one layer is needed. Make sure you cure this layer before painting over it.

Once it has cured, wipe off the tacky layer, make sure all of this has gone; otherwise, it could damage the nail polish.

At this point, you are ready to start repainting your nails. Cover the nail with two coats, and make sure not to get too close to your cuticle as you don’t want it to flood. 

If you are repainting your nails with a gel nail polish, make sure you cure it with the correct type of light for the recommended amount of time. 

Finish with a top coat to add that extra shine and protection to your new manicure.

How to remove a gel manicure

If you are looking to take your gel nails off but don’t have enough time to go to a nail salon or you want to save some money by doing it yourself, here’s a quick and easy 5 step guide on how to remove a gel manicure at home.

  • Start by filling down the top of the polish so that the acetone can penetrate the gel and remove it easier.
  • Soak cotton wool in acetone and apply one to each nail. Cover each nail separately with tin foil.
  • Once you left your nails wrapped for 15 to 20 minutes, remove the foil and cotton wool. Using the cotton wool, wipe the nail to get off the top layers of the gel.
  • With a cuticle pusher, gently push the gel off of the nail. It should come off easily enough; if it does still feel quite stiff, and it’s hard to push off, repeat the second step for a further 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Once all the gel is off your nails, buff your nail surface until its smooth. Apply oil to help restore and hydrate your nails.

You can repaint your nails after this if you want, but if you get your nails done quite frequently, make sure to give your nails a break to strength up and rehydrate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you paint over gel extensions?

You can paint over gel nail extensions; if you are using regular nail polish, you can repaint them as many times as you’d like without having to prep them each time. If you use gel nail polish, you need to file down the first layers of the existing gel so that it doesn’t build up.

Can you put regular nail polish over the gel base coat?

Yes, you can put regular nail polish on top of a gel base coat; the base coat acts as the protective layer that will stop the nail polish from staining your natural nails. I would advise not to put a gel top coat over the nail polish.

Regular nail polish takes a few hours to dry completely, whereas gels can be cured for a few minutes and be completely dry. Mixing the chemicals in the regular nail polish and the gels won’t work when they are both wet, and it will end up ruining your manicure. 

If you want to use a gel top coat because you think it gives it a better finish, it is recommended that you wait 24 hours to make sure that every part of the polish has dried, as it may be dried on top, but in the middle layers, it may not be. 

How many layers of gel nail polish should you apply?

When doing gel nails, you should apply a base coat layer to protect your natural nail and provide a better foundation for the gel.

Then apply two layers of the gel colour and finish with one layer of topcoat. Each layer will need to be cured so that it dries and has a better finish.

What is the difference between gel nail polish and regular nail polish?

The main difference between gel nail polish and regular nail polish is that gel nail polish is cured under a light, whereas regular nail polish is air-dried.

There are smaller differences, like gel nail polish, which is a lot stronger and lasts considerably longer than regular nail polish.

A gel is very much a more permanent type of manicure in the sense that it is harder to change as it is a long process to take it off, whereas regular polish is a lot easier to take off, so it can be changed more often. 

Will gel polish dry without UV light?

It is possible to dry gel nails without a UV light. However, the other ways of drying gels are very long and complicated, and they won’t give you the best results.

There also isn’t a guarantee to say the other methods will completely dry the gel nails, whereas a UV light will definitely cure the nails. So if you want the best results, using a UV light will give you this. 

What happens if you over cured gel nails?

There are two possible outcomes if you over cure your gel nails; they will lose their shine or discolour. The effect differs depending on the type of light, whether its UV or LED and the type of gel.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, when using an LED light cure for a maximum of 60 seconds and with UV light a maximum of 2 minutes. 


I hope this has been helpful and you’ve been able to find an answer to your questions. It’s important to remember that you can paint over your gel nails without doing this if you’re in a rush or need it as a temporary, but it may not look the best. 

Following these steps will give you the best possible look for your new manicure. This is also the best way to keep your natural nails protected and healthy, especially when it comes to removing the gel manicure. 

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