Can I Use Regular Nail Polish Under Gelish?

If you are using Gelish, skip the enamel.

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With a wide range of dazzling colors, Gelish nail gels are real stunners. A product of Hand and Nail Harmony, Gelish coats nails with a durable finish and glassy sheen that lasts and lasts. While you may be tempted to paint one of the transparent Gelish colors over existing nail polish for longer wear, the practice may be less than ideal.

Prepping for Gelish

Before applying any Gelish nail color, some nail prep and the application of a bonding agent is a must. Removing all traces of nail polish is part of this process. Before applying the bonding agent, you must clean your nails with a special primer unique to the Gelish system, wiping them dry afterward with a lint-free cloth. In other words, Gelish requires squeaky-clean, naked nails to start.

How Gelish Works

Although Gelish nail gels go on like ordinary run-of-the-mill nail polish, they cure and adhere much differently. Enamel-based nail polishes have limited bonding qualities, which leave them subject to chipping and peeling within days of application -- sometimes sooner if you’re a roughhouser. Gelish sticks to your nails and doesn’t let go once the product cures under ultraviolet light. A coat of nail polish underneath Gelish would interfere with this adhesion, so why would you risk it?

How Do I Remove Gelish?

Gelish nail gels cure to a rock-hard finish and, unlike ordinary nail polishes that wipe away with acetone and a cotton ball, Gelish demands a light filing followed by a 10-minute soak in a special remover -- acetone alone just won’t cut it. Until you get the hang of applying and removing Gelish, the whole process can be a bit messy. Throw a layer of enamel nail polish into the mix and it may get even messier.

Bottom Line

When it comes to Gelish and nail polish, you will need to make a choice. Opting for one over the other is definitely a tradeoff. Gelish nail colors last about three weeks without marring. If you choose the Gelish, be prepared for the extra work when it comes to removal time. Sometimes gels are stubborn and need a bit of scraping with an orangewood stick during removal. Enamel nail polish may not be as resilient as Gelish, but removal is as simple as one, two, three!

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