Can You Use a Base Coat as a Top Coat or Vice Versa?

Being a long nails fanatic, I cannot claim I’m ready for a hangout without giving a quick manicure to my nails. And a proper manicure cannot be achieved without the use of a base coat and a top coat.

use a base coat as a top coat

But from the perspective of their appearances, these two types of nail polishes seem quite alike. And if there’s no label on the nail polish bottle, I’m sure we won’t be even able to distinguish these two nail polishes.

But what if we interchange their order of use? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to use a base coat as a top coat or vice-versa? Well, if you ever have, then trust me, that would be the last thing you would want to experiment with your manicure.

I know you might have a lot of questions about this. Don’t worry! In this post, I’m going to share the importance of why to use a base coat and top coat in the proper order and what if you change the application order, for example, use a base coat as a top coat or a top coat as a base coat.

What Is a Base Coat?

A base coat is a nail polish that is applied on the nude surface of our natural nails before any nail paint application. It has a very sticky and thick texture, which helps retain the nail paint for a long time.

use a base coat as a top coat

Apart from that, base coat nail polishes protect the natural nails from getting stained by any nail polishes. Many base coats also help in enhancing the texture and quality of the nails by adding strength to bitten or brittle nails.

However, base coats can also be applied directly on our natural nails without applying any nail paint on top of it. This will make our natural nails look glossy naturally proving that the base coat has a glossy finish type.

What Is a Top Coat?

A top coat is a nail polish that is applied at the last stage of the manicure on our nails to seal the longevity of the nail color.

use a base coat as a top coat

Top coats also come in handy for maintaining the freshness of nail paint for up to a week! Many top coats are formulated as a UV shield, protecting our nail paint from getting faded in the sunlight.

Top coats are available in matte and glossy finish types. Therefore, applying a top coat helps your manicure to look new and fresh and retain it for a long time.

Can You Use a Base Coat as a Top Coat?

Using a base coat as a top coat is not the right selection. Both these nail polishes have different functions developed aiming to add distinct benefits to our manicures. Therefore, to achieve the perfect manicure results, substituting a top coat with a base coat will not give us the exact result we want.

But what exactly happens if we replace a top coat with a base coat? Well, let’s learn,

The layer of the base coat application will restrict any nail color to pass through it and discoloring/impacting our natural nails. Plus, the dried layer of base coat offers the finest surface for any nail polish to stick on it for a longer time.

When using a base coat as a top coat, you will now understand that its real use of restricting a nail color to pass through it has been disfavored as we are not applying any nail polish on it. As we are not applying any nail polish after it, the finest layer that it offered to retain nail polish is also unvalued.

End result: Base coats consist of a thick texture which, if applied as a top coat, will provide a poor appearance to the manicure as it will make the nails look over-layered and unattractive. You will fail to achieve the ultimate shine in your manicure. Besides, using a base coat as a top coat will fail to protect your manicure from getting damaged.

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Can You Use a Top Coat as a Base Coat?

Still getting thoughts like, can a top coat be used as the base coat or not? Well, I completely understand your confusion on this! As I said before, top coats and base coats seem to be quite alike, but there is a vast difference between base coats and top coats.

Here are what exactly happens if we replace the base coat with a top coat. Let’s learn,

For a proper manicure result, it is crucial to have nails free from natural oils. Unlike top coats, base coats consist of properties that help keep the natural nails free from any moisture.

End result: Despite protecting the nail color from external damage, top coats, do not possess a sticky nature that helps retain the nail color on our nails. Due to these missing properties, using a top coat as a base coat can sabotage the nail color, enabling them to wear off soon.

Use Base Coat and Top Coat the Right Way

Despite knowing the base coat and top coat, the secret to getting a perfect manicure lies in the application process of these two products.

First, prepare your nails ready for your next manicure. Next, apply a thin layer of base coat evenly on your nails. Make sure the base coat is applied to the entire nail. This base coat will offer a great surface for nail polish to stick to it. Additionally, it will also protect your nails from any stain from your nail polish.

Once your base coat is dried, apply two coats of your favorite nail polish and let it dry. Next comes the application of the top coat. Apply a thin layer of top coat on your nail polish and make sure you have covered the entire nail with the top coat. This final layer will work as a shield to your nail polish, helping it to stay new and glossy/matte for a long time.

In total, there are 4 layers of nail polishes in your manicure. One layer of base coat, two layers of your colored nail polish, and the final layer of a top coat. To achieve a flawless manicure, it is important to apply each of these nail polishes at the correct time by following the proper procedure.

Can You Use a Base Coat as a Top Coat or Vice Versa? – FAQs

Is the base coat and top coat the same?

Apparently, no, the base coat and top coat are not the same. Base coat and top coat are two completely different products that are used for different purposes during a manicure to help achieve quality results.

Can you use a base coat as clear nail polish?

Yes, why not? Using a base coat as a clear polish adds shine to your nails, making them look natural and presentable at the same time. Additionally, base coats can be easily worn alone as it adds a lot of advantages to our nails.

Is clear nail polish the same as a top coat?

No, clear nail polish is not the same as a top coat. The application of a top coat nail polish protects the nail art and gives your nail art a glossy or matte look. But clear nail polish is there just to add shine to over-painted nails or natural nails.

What can I use instead of a top coat?

You can use either cuticle oil or a fast-drying top coat spray instead of a top coat. Cuticle oil can give that similar glossy look like a top coat. On the other hand, using a fast-drying top coat spray helps dry your nail paint fast, making them look extra shiny.

What can I use instead of a base coat?

To replace your base coat with suitable substitutes, you can use a nail primer or clear nail polish/white nail polish, or a nail dehydrator.

Final Takeaway

I think the best way to take care of our nails is to never mess with the manicure process. I know manicures usually take a lot of time, but the results are totally worth it. Use a base coat and a top coat in the appropriate way for a long-lasting manicure.

Personally, these are my favorite nail polishes as they make my manicure captivating and enrich my nails with so many benefits.

Honestly, after I started indulging in a base coat and a top coat in my manicure regime, my nail quality improved a lot. And simply a base coat makes my natural long nails look gorgeous and shiny always!


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