Can You use A Base Coat as A Top Coat Or Vise Versa?

Just run out of your go-to base coat and wondering whether you can use a top coat instead?

Well, you’re at the right place.

I am here to go through the ongoing debate as to whether you can use a base coat as a topcoat, plus the key differences between the two.

You may be asking yourself: can you use a base coat as a topcoat or vise versa?

You can actually use your topcoat as a base coat or vice versa, but it may not give the same performance as using the right one. It may also affect the longevity of your manicure as a whole.

But why you may be asking? Well they are very different formulas and they actually perform very different purposes in a manicure.

Enough for now though, let’s break down the confusing features!

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So can you use a base coat as a topcoat or vise versa?

Well, yes, but not as well as you may think. You can use a base coat as a top coat and a top coat as a base coat, but you won’t get the same performance out of the manicure as you usually would with the right coat.

It may also affect the durability of your manicure, making it more susceptible to peeling and chipping and overall just not lasting as long as usual.

The reasoning for this is because of the massive difference in purposes and ingredients. Many people believe that they serve similar purposes, but they are more different than you may think.

What are the main differences? 

Base coats are designed to anchor your nail polish to the nail bed by providing a sticky surface for the nail polish to adhere to.

On the other hand, topcoats are designed to seal nail polish, acting as a protective barrier from the environment.

Top coats and base coats use quite similar ingredients but in different proportions. Base coats often have more plasticizers and sticky resins for the nail polish to adhere to, whereas a topcoat would have more film formers to seal in the polish.

Why you shouldn’t use a base coat as a topcoat 

Here are the top reasons not to use a base coat as a topcoat :

It won’t protect your nail polish effectively:

The primary purpose of a topcoat is to protect your nails from the environment and is easily damaged. Top coats protect your nails from UV light, water, and other chemicals that will make the color fade, peel, or chip.

Topcoats have more film formers than base coats, allowing them to form a hard, durable layer to keep the nail polish sealed underneath.

Base coats, however, create a softer, sticky layer for your nail polish to adhere to. They will not adequately protect your nail polish and may even leave the top layer to be tacky.

If you use a base coat as a topcoat, it will be like leaving the house with no shoes; it won’t protect your nails.

It won’t bond as well as a topcoat: 

Topcoats adhere to your nail polish to form a protective seal on top. It also adds to the longevity of the polish.

However, base coats were made to adhere and bond with your nail plate, creating a sticky surface to anchor down your nail polish.

Using a base coat as a top coat won’t be a good idea as it will easily wash off, leaving your manicure with no protection, making it prone to chipping.

It won’t give a glossy finish like a topcoat:

Topcoats add a long-lasting shine to your manicures. Base coats can create a glossy effect, but this won’t last as long as a top coat would; it will wash away quickly.

It may even leave a tacky finish due to it being a sticky surface to anchor the nail polish down.

nail polish top coat

Why you shouldn’t use a top coat as a base coat

Here are the top reasons not to use a topcoat as a base coat:

It won’t adhere to your nail plate as well: 

A base coat acts as a double-sided sticky tape; it firmly holds onto your nail plate while anchors and bonds the nail polish layers to the nail.

A base coat contains higher resins levels than a topcoat does, allowing them to bond firmly to your nail.

A topcoat won’t adhere and a base coat because it is designed to bond only with your nail polish, not with the nail bed.

Using a top coat instead of a base coat won’t provide a good enough foundation for your nail polish, and it will make it more prone to peeling.

Using a top coat instead of a base coat will reduce the manicure’s longevity massively, making it more likely to peel within the first few days.

It would be better to apply no base coat at all rather than a topcoat.

It won’t protect nail staining: 

Base coats are designed to prevent your nails from staining. Some polishes have high amounts of pigmentation, so much that they can stain your natural nail.

Base coats create a protective layer between intensely pigmented nail polishes, such as deep red color, and your nail bed.

However, topcoats don’t offer this level of protection. Therefore if you use a top coat instead, your nails will more likely stain and even leave a permanent yellow hue on your natural nail.

What about the all-in-one base and top coats? 

You may have seen all in one base coat and top coat, which can be used both as a base coat and a topcoat.

Although they may seem like a good idea at first glimpse, they don’t work as well as you may think.

Now, base coats and top coats serve a very different purpose, so putting them in one bottle may not perform as effectively as using them separately.

Firstly, an all-in-one base and top coat doesn’t adhere as well to your nail plates, meaning it doesn’t work as well as a standard base coat. It also means that it won’t offer as much protection as a top coat would too.

If you’re on a budget, you can use an all-in-one base and top coat, but it may not give you as much performance as using them separately. If you do use it, I would recommend using Essie.

Summary:

All in all, you can use a base coat as a top coat or the other way around, but it will massively hinder your manicure’s performance.

Instead of using the other, I would go without; using the incorrect coat may cause it to chip quicker than not using it.

To answer everyone’s question, yes, you can use a base coat as a top coat and a top coat as a base coat, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

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