Nail Care 101: How To Put Gel Polish Over Acrylic Nails?

If you’ve gone to a nail salon, you’ve probably heard of gel polish and acrylic nails. While these are the easiest alternatives to a long-lasting nail styling solution. However, there might be times you have to do both at the same time.

Yes! You can put gel polish over acrylics.

But the real question is how to put gel polish over acrylic nails?

Before applying gel polish, do prepare the acrylics. But at first, the nails need to be sanded. After that, cleared of cuticles and gritted with a file to gain a smooth surface. After that, you can apply the three layers of gel polish. And dry them under the UV lamp.

These are the simple steps of putting gel polish over acrylics. However, you might want to know a detailed description of the application. You only need to spare a minute and read along.

Shall we start polishing?

Gel Polish Over Acrylic Nails: Can You Do It?

The first question that comes to nail enthusiasts is if it’s even possible. Gel polish and acrylics are completely different elements. Using them together might not be the greatest of ideas.

However, at times we might have to pull off these extreme sports. Let’s suppose you have your acrylics on. But the neon green nails are a bit too much for your sister’s wedding. Now, what would you do?

gel polish over acrylic nails

You can either take the acrylics off. This would be a complete bother. Because you’ve to go to the salon or soak your hands for a long time. Or just put a coat of gel polish over the acrylic nails.

Not only would this save your time. But it’ll also give you the liberty to style it your own way. So the answer is simple. Go ahead!

What Is Gel Polish?

Gel polish is a 3 layer nail polish. First, you apply a layer of base coat that makes the nail surface even and consistent. Then you’ve to apply your favorite coat of gel polish. And the final step is to apply the topcoat that helps the polish to smooth over. 

In this case, you’ve to put your nails under the UV light after applying every layer. You need to dry the polish under a UV lamp for 30 seconds or more. This will allow the polish to set on your nails permanently.

Gel polish applies a smooth and glossy surface to your nails. And the paint won’t smudge like any other normal nail polish. It will last for up to 14 days. After that, the polish might chip.  In some cases, it might start lifting from the edge.

Gel polish is the easiest way to achieve long-lasting polish. You don’t have to go to a nail salon for this. You can easily do it at home, only if you own a UV nail lamp.

What Are Acrylic Nails?

On the other hand, acrylic is not at all like gel polish. Although, you might get the same shiny result. But the process of application and the elements of the polish are different. Acrylics use liquid and powder to form a kind of mixture. Which are applied over the nails, mostly by using a brush.

After the mixture is shaped, the nails are buffed and dusted. Now there’s a smooth surface that you can paint the nails. However, for this process, you’ll need three layers of coating for a long-lasting result. 

The three layers are base coat, nail polish, and topcoat. Your nail will look put together once all your layers are done and dried. Drying the layers is important. Otherwise, the acrylic nails will lift.

Acrylics are hard and give you protection. So you don’t have to worry about nail bending, chipping, or breaking. However, acrylic nails aren’t easy to remove. You need to go to a nail salon if you do want to remove the nails. 

Only professionals can help you remove acrylic nails without hurting your nail bed.

How Are The Gel Polish And Acrylics Different?

There are some basic differences between the two nail enhancements. Applying gel polish is easy and doesn’t require much care after it’s applied. Not only applying, removing gel polish is easier than acrylic nails.

On the other hand, acrylics require refills every once in a while. Because the nails start losing their shape over time. Clearly, one needs a UV nail lamp while the other requires air drying.


However, both of the polishes have similar outcomes and glossy effects. So both the techniques can be used together. If you don’t want to remove your nail enhancements, use gel polish over acrylics. And that too all on your own.

When Can’t You Apply Gel Polish Over Acrylics?

Applying gel polish over acrylic is always a good idea. However, you can’t always use gel polish on your nails. Although both acrylic and gel polished nails give off a glossy and shiny finish. 

You can’t use gel nail polish over polished acrylic. You’ve to make sure you contour the nail surface before applying gel polish.

Also using gel polish over a matte acrylic is a big no. Because without taking the topcoat off, you can’t put the gel polish. The polish will not set properly over the matte surface. So it’s important that you take off the top coat before applying anything else. This helps the polish to set properly.

So, before heading over to the process of applying gel polish. Make sure that the nails are ready for a fresh coat of polish. Otherwise, the gel polish might not turn out the way you wanted.

On another note, if your nails are infected, it’s better not to apply gel polish or acrylic nails. Also, curling nails can’t hold acrylics.

Now, let’s take a look at the benefits and demerits of applying gel polish. Although it’s the easiest way to adjust your nail for a birthday party. There are some certain risks that one should be aware of.

Gel Polish Over Acrylic Nails: Advantages

As we said, gel polish is long-lasting nail polishes. Applying gel polish saves you a lot of time. You don’t have to coat it frequently like normal nail polish. Or worry about getting the polish smudged.

Acrylics are also a lifesaver. Once you’ve put them on, your real nails will remain protected. The best thing about these acrylic nails is that they don’t break easily. So you can work with them without having to worry about it getting chipped or broken.

The real question is- what are the advantages of using gel polish over acrylic nails?

If you ever felt the need to change the color of your acrylic nails. Or add your own personal touch or use your own design. There is no other easier way than using gel polish over acrylic nails. Although there are a few instructions that you should follow.

For this, you don’t have to go to a nail salon for professional assistance. You can do it right from your home. If you apply gel polish, you don’t have to remove your acrylic nails. This way you get to keep both-  the gloss and the extensions that you wanted. 

Gel Polish Over Acrylic Nails: Disadvantages

We admit that gel polish can save your life when needed. And acrylics can give you that extra hype you always wanted. But nothing comes without its cost.

Gel polish can’t dry without UV lights. That’s the only way the polish would set on your nails. It only takes about 30 seconds to 2 minutes for nails to dry. But these mere 30 seconds are enough to harm your nails.

We already know that UV rays are harmful to our skin and health. When we get exposed to this ray for a long time, there might be negative impacts. 

For example, UV rays cause our nails to break or discolor.  Sometimes the skin around the nail bed dries and hardens. This light can also cause skin irritation.

If you think UV light is the only problem, you’re wrong. The material of the gel polish is sometimes unsuitable to our skin. That’s why many people advise not to use it, especially over cuticles or skin. This might cause irritation or reaction.

UV light

But all the disadvantages are not limited to gel polish only. Acrylic nails can also cause a lot of problems. Acrylics are hard but there are chances of damaging your nail bed. Especially when taking the acrylics off. 

Another disadvantage is that you need to fill them every few weeks. In order to retain the shape. Yes, acrylic nails require a lot of attention, unlike gel polish. Lots of people are not comfortable wearing acrylics due to the lack of flexibility.

Now that you know everything about gel polish and acrylic nails. Let’s move on next to the application procedure.

How To Apply Gel Polish Over Acrylic Nails

It’s time to hide your old acrylic polish with a new one! The process of applying gel polish over acrylic nails is super easy. However, there are some things you need to keep in check before proceeding.

The steps are really easy. But you might face some difficulties if you’ve never done your nails before. In that case, a video or a professional will assist you with the difficult steps.

Tools You’ll Require 

Before jumping to the steps, we need to have the right tools with us. To get the desired outcome, nail tools can come in very handy. And they make everything easier for us. 

So, for putting gel polish over acrylic nails, we need the following:

  • Gel Polish of your favorite color 
  • Brush
  • Basecoat
  • Topcoat
  • 180 grit nail file/ hand grit file
  • UV nail lamp
  • Alcohol spray
  • Cuticle pusher
  • Sanding belt

Now, if you’ve gathered all the tools for the gel polish, let’s begin with the steps-

Step 1: First, Fix Your Acrylics

The first step is to check if the acrylics need any refill. Usually, it takes about 2-3 weeks before the nails need a refill. 

If your nails have a tiny gap between the acrylic and the cuticle. You’ll know it’s time for an acrylic refill. If not, you can simply proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Remove The Previous Polish

If your acrylics were painted beforehand, you should start by removing them. For this, you’ll need to use a sanding belt. Sanding belts are used to remove the top layer of a nail and make the surface even. So that’s the easiest way to remove the previous polish. Once you’re done, you can reshape the nails with a clipper. 

Step 3: Push The Cuticles

Once the nails are shaped, start working on the cuticles. For that, spray a bit of alcohol on your fingers. This makes the cuticle pushing part easy. 

All you need to do is use a cuticle pusher. And remove the cuticles from the acrylics. This makes polishing easy cause the cuticles won’t get in the way. This also helps to keep gel polish from shrinking.

There are many kinds of cuticle pushers available in the market. But we’ve curated a list of the recommended products just for you-

revlon dual ended nail groomer

Revlon Dual Ended Nail Groomer

utopia care cuticle pusher and spoon nail cleaner

Utopia Care Cuticle Pusher and Spoon Nail Cleaner

Hopefully, the right cuticle pusher will make your job easy.

Step 4: Time To Grit The Nails

After the cuticles are done. It’s time to grit the nails with a 180 grit nail file. Once the surface is smooth and dusted, your nail is ready for gel polish.

grit the nails

Step 5: Start Polishing

Now that your acrylic is ready, you can polish the nails by applying the base coat. After that, you can choose the gel polish of your choice. And apply the polish over the layer of the base coat. And finally, finish it off with a layer of glossy or matte topcoat.

When all three layers of the nails are done, put them under the UV lamp. It takes around 2 minutes to dry completely.

 Now you have gel polish over your acrylic nails: shiny and shimmery. Just the way you want.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you put gel polish over acrylic nails?

Of course you can! But make sure the acrylics are properly filled and gritted. Also, you need to remove the previous polish. Otherwise, the gel polish will not sit smoothly over the acrylic.

Is it better to get gel or regular polish on acrylic nails?

Both are great options. Picking one comes down to how long you want your polish to last. Gel polish is usually more long-lasting and durable. On the other hand, regular nail polish doesn’t last too long.

How many times can you get a fill on acrylic nails?

Although acrylics are sturdy and don’t break or come off that easily. They do lose their form and shape over time. That’s why they need to be refilled every 2-3 weeks. Especially when the cuticles and the acrylics start growing apart.

Signing Off

Gel polish on acrylic nails is a brilliant solution to your nail emergency. However, keep the harmful effects of gel polish and acrylic nails in mind. Also, it’s important to take care of your fingernails and toenails.

Let us know if you were able to put gel nail polish over the acrylics.

Till then, keep those nails shining.

Katharyn Riedel

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