A base coat can be used as a top coat, and a top coat can be used as a base coat. But you wouldn’t get the same level of performance as if you used the correct coat.
And in some cases using the wrong coat can actually make your manicure less durable and more prone to peeling and chipping.
This is because base coats and top coats have different purposes and use different ingredients.
A Base Coats’ main function is to act as an anchor for your nail polish whilst a top coat is used to shield your nail polish to protect it from the environment.
Top Coats and Base Coats tend to use the same ingredients. But they use them in different proportions. For example, a base coat would use more plasticizers and sticky resins, and a top coat would contain more film formers.
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Base Coat as Top Coat
1- Won’t Protect Your Nail Polish Effectively
A top coat’s main function is to protect your nail polishes from being easily damaged and to shield them from UV light, water, and other chemicals that make them; lose their color and make them more prone to peeling.
Top Coats contain a higher concentration of film formers which allow them to form a hard and durable layer. This tough layer acts like armor for your nail polish to protect and seal them off.
Now Base Coats on the other hand create a softer and weaker layer which means that they are unable to properly protect your nail polish.
And some brands of Base Coats will even have a tacky or sticky top layer that will do nothing to protect your manicure.
If you use a base coat as a top coat it would be like using a cotton shirt to protect against arrows.
2-Won’t Bond With Your Nail Polish as Good as a Top Coat
Top Coats are designed to adhere firmly to your nail polish so that they can last for a longer period of time.
Base coats on the other hand are made specifically to bond firmly with your nail plates and to create a surface for your nail polish to anchor onto.
This means that a base coat would be easily washed away.
3- Won’t Give You Such a Glossy Sheen
Top Coats will give your manicures a nice long-lasting glossy and shiny appearance.
Now, most base coats will create a glossy effect but it won’t last as long as a top coat would, instead, it will be quickly washed away.
Why You Shouldn’t Use a Top Coat as a Base Coat
1- Won’t Adhere Well to Your Nail Plate
A Base Coat acts like double-sided sticky tape, it holds on firmly onto your nail plate and creates a sticky layer for nail polish to bond with.
Base coats usually contain high levels of resins which allows them to bond firmly with your nails.
Now a top coat won’t adhere well to your nail plate since they are designed to bond mostly with only your nail polish.
So if you use top coat as a base coat you won’t create a good foundation for your nail polish and it will most likely peel prematurely.
A top coat when used as a base coat will actually reduce the duration that your nail polish will last for.
And because of this, I would advise you to never use a top coat as a base coat. If you don’t have a base coat just apply the bare nail polish.
2- Won’t Protect Your Nails From Staining
Most base coats prevent your polishes from staining your natural nails.
You see some nail polishes have a lot of pigmentation so much so that they can stain your natural nails. Now certain base coats create a solid dense layer over your nails preventing the pigments in your nail polish from reaching your nail plate
Now Top Coats don’t offer this protection, so if you use a top coat instead of a base coat there is a good chance that your nails will get stained and in long run even develop a yellowish tinge.
All in One Base Coat and Top Coat
Now there are some brands that offer a 2 in 1 product meaning that they can be used both as a base coat and a top coat.
Though I wouldn’t recommend most of these products, because they tend to be very mediocre and usually don’t perform as effectively as a specialized top or base coat.
All in one products tend to not adhere so well to your nail plates and don’t offer so much protection for your nail polish.
But I think Essie has an affordable and reasonably good all in one base and top coat.
I personally don’t use it for me or my clients because I don’t think it performs as good as specialized top or base coat.
But if you are on a budget it might be suited for you since it does a fair job and is perfect if you are trying to save money.
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