A quick answer to this question, “Can I use base coat as top coat?” is “No, you cannot.”The reason, according to experts, is that they both serve different purposes. There are often misunderstandings regarding the interchangeability of these two products. In this post, we’ll look at the effects of using a top coat as a base coat or vice versa and why apply the proper coat for each step of your manicure is so important.

Are base coat and top coat interchangeable in their functions?

Knowing the Differences Between Base and Top Coat Before getting into the outcome, Let’s clarify what a base coat is and what base coat and top coat actually do.

A base coat goes first and functions as a connection between your nails and nail polish. It creats a smooth surface and support the polish to adhere to the nails more nicely. When applying nail polish, a base coat acts as an anchor, while a top coat acts as a shield to protect the polish from the elements.

Most nail polishes contain pigments that can stain your nails; the base coat guards natural nails from yellowing and discoloring from these pigments. On the other hand, you apply a top coat as a final layer. This seals and protects the nail polish, giving added gloss, longevity, and resistance against chipping and peeling.

The majority of base coats and top coats include identical chemical substances. Nonetheless, they utilise each in varied proportions. For example, a top coat contains more film formers than a base coat, which contains more plasticizers and sticky resins.

Additionally, top coats are useful for preserving nail paint for up to a week! Numerous top coats are developed with ultraviolet protection, preventing our nail polish from fading in the sunlight.

 What Happens When You Use a Top Coat as a Base Coat

Ineffective Nail Polish Protection:

Topcoats primarily protect your nail polish from degradation, which is influenced by external causes such as UV light, water, and chemicals. They have a larger concentration of film formers, building a strong, long-lasting layer to protect the polish. This strong coating protects and seals your nail paint like a suit of armor. Using a top coat as a base coat weakens its preventive role. Due to their softer and weaker chemistry, base coats cannot protect your manicure properly. Some base coats might also have a sticky or greasy top layer that offers no protection.

Attempting to shield with a base coat instead of a top coat is similar to attempting to guard against arrows with only a delicate cotton shirt; it is a mismatched and insufficient defense.

Poor Adhesion:

Topcoats stick to nail polish, ensuring a longer manicure seamlessly. On the other hand, Base coats bond firmly to the nail plate, providing a surface for polish adhesion. Using a top coat as a base coat lacks bonding, causing peeling and reducing manicure durability.

Lack of Long-Lasting Gloss:

One of the admirable characteristics of a top coat is its ability to provide a long-lasting glossy, shiny finish. While some base coats may provide a brief glossy sheen, a top coat’s long-lasting glow is superior. Using a top coat as a base coat eliminates the elegant glossy sheen in your manicure.

The Pitfalls of Using a Base Coat as a Top Coat

Inadequate Adhesion to Nail Polish:

Base coats act like adhesive tape, sticking to the nail plate and providing a sticky surface for polish. They include more resins, providing a deeper bond with the nails. Top coats, on the other hand, are intended to bond with nail paint rather than the nail plate itself. Ultimately, using a base coat as a top coat hinders polish adhesion, leading to premature peeling.

Lack of Nail Stain Protection:

Base coats are essential for keeping highly pigmented nail polishes from staining natural nails. Certain base coats form a strong, solid coating as a barrier, blocking pigment from reaching the nail plate. Ironically, top coats can not provide this level of protection. Substituting a top coat for a base coat may lead to nail discoloration, turning yellowing over time.

Are there any brands that offer All in one Base coat and top coat

Some companies claim their products may serve as base and top coats, giving a handy all-in-one option. These tools are made to be versatile and time-saving for your manicure routine.

Nonetheless, I would not advise using these multipurpose items until necessary. However, they usually perform poorly compared to more specialized base coats and top coats.

All-in-one products generally have weaker nail plate adhesion than dedicated base coats. Because of this, your manicure may not last as long as you’d like. In addition, they might not offer enough defense against the elements to keep your nail paint from flaking and peeling.

Essie is one of the best options for a budget-friendly all-in-one base and top coat. It’s important to remember that, maybe it’s appropriate on a tighter budget or a short-term solution to save money. I don’t use it for myself or my clients. Regarding adherence, protection, and the general long-lasting manicure, I find that specialized base coats and top coats work the best.


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