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Nail Lacquer vs Polish: What’s Difference & Which Better?

By Sejla Selimovic
June 16, 2023
6 minutes

Nail lacquer and nail polish are just a few of the many available products for proper nail care these days. Most of the time, nail lacquer and nail polish are used interchangeably, but the significant differences between these two products tell otherwise.

Knowing the difference between these two nail care products will give you an even better experience, and you will be able to adapt desired products to your needs. In this article, we will explore the differences between nail lacquer and nail polish in terms of composition, application, finish, durability, and more to determine which is better for your nails.

Some may wonder about UV nail polishes. They are also a type of nail polish, also known as gel-lack. They are completely different from the first two mentioned products, and we will get to them shortly, for the purpose of better understanding.

1. Understanding the meaning of nail lacquer and nail polish

There is nothing better for understanding a term than its own definition – to be able to find suitable products, we first need to learn the basics. Afterward, we will move to their differences and durability.

What is Nail Lacquer?

Nail lacquer is a type of nail product that is basically a type of paint made for the appliance of your nails. This type of lacquer includes a mixture of solvents, resins, pigments, and other ingredients that work together to create a glossy, long-lasting finish. It is often applied in layers and requires specific tools for removal.

What is Nail Polish?

Nail polish is also a type of nail product. But, due to its composition, it is thinner than nail lacquer and is mostly considered a less durable and temporary option. Another thing about nail polish is that it contains fewer pigments than nail lacquer. Nail polish can be removed easily with acetone or nail polish remover.

2. Composition and Ingredients

Both nail lacquer and nail polish have similar compositions, but the difference lies in some of the key ingredients in the composition. Nail polishes typically contain a mixture of nitrocellulose, resins, solvents, and pigments. Nail lacquers, on the other hand, often contain a blend of acrylic resins, nitrocellulose, and plasticizers. Nail lacquer tends to be thicker and has a higher concentration of pigments, which allows for more vibrant colors.

Another difference in ingredients is that nail lacquers tend not to contain certain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, and phthalates. Nail polishes, on the other hand, may still contain some of these ingredients.

3. Application and Appearance

The texture, consistency, and appearance are the things in which Nail lacquers and nail polishes also differ. Nail polish is thinner than nail lacquer, which sometimes has a gel-like consistency. This usually results in easier appliance and more evenly pigmentation of the final result. Nail polish is thinner and more liquid, which makes it easier to apply in thin layers, but it may require multiple coats to achieve the desired opacity.

You should expect a more glossy and shiny finish to be features of a nail lacquer, in terms of appearance. The advantage of nail polish is surely the variety of a glossy, matte, glittery, or metallic finish.

4. Durability and Longevity

When it comes to durability and longevity, nail lacquer usually outperforms nail polish. This is because nail lacquer has a thicker, more robust formula that can withstand wear and tear better than nail polish. Nail lacquer also tends to dry faster and harder, which can provide protection and help prevent chips and cracks.

The lifespan of both nail lacquer and nail polish is affected by factors such as the quality of the product, how well it is applied, and individual factors such as nail health and lifestyle habits or what kind of a job you have. If you choose a nail lacquer, then expect it to last up to two weeks without chipping or fading, while nail polish might start to fade after a few days.

The conclusion is, while nail lacquer and nail polish are similar products used for coloring and protecting nails, there are some significant differences in their composition, application, appearance, and durability. When choosing which product to use, consider your personal preferences and nail care needs to select the best option for you

5. Colors and Finishes

Oh, here comes the fun part – on the contrary, both products offer a wide range of colors and a choice of shades. Nail lacquer often offers a more extensive selection of unique and bold colors, while nail polish tends to have more classic shades.

As already mentioned, nail lacquer will provide a more glossy and shiny finish, while nail polish can have a matte or semi-gloss finish. And, for those who also prefer glitter, some finishes contain them that can make your nails sassy.

6. Price and Availability

When it comes to price, nail lacquer is typically pricier than nail polish. Nail lacquer can cost from $5 up to $30 per bottle, depending on the brand and quality. Nail polish, on the other hand, is generally more affordable, typically ranging from $2 to $15.

No wonder nail lacquer is less affordable than nail polish, due to its high-quality ingredients and unique colors. Nail polish is less expensive, which will make a day an option for people on a budget.

Each product is available in many drugstores, beauty stores, and online. Nail lacquer, however, might have fewer options for purchase in some areas, while nail polish is often easily accessible.

7. Removal and Aftercare

Proper aftercare is essential to maintain the health of your nails and improve their strength. When it comes to removing nail polish and nail lacquer, it’s essential to use an acetone-based nail polish remover to dissolve the product.

Go on and check out our blog, the “ Best Nail Polish Remover Chemical in Nail Care ” to find your new favorite nail polish remover.

It’s crucial to use an acetone-based nail polish remover when removing nail lacquer or nail polish. The acetone helps dissolve the product, making it easier to remove. Always remember to moisturize your nails and cuticles after removing the product to avoid dryness and prevent your nails from becoming brittle.

About UV nail polishes

Uv nail polish is a special type of nail polish and is very different from ordinary nail polish. The structure, the method of application, durability, and the removal of UV nail polish are the basic components that make these nail polishes different from others.

They are mostly used exclusively for professional purposes, but sometimes they can also be used at home. UV nail polishes are a frequent choice due to their durability and shine, but also due to the fact that they extremely contribute to the preservation of the natural nail.

See our guide “ How to Do Manicures and Pedicures at Home? ”, which is also right next to the “ How to Remove Gel Nail Polish at Home Quickly?

and get yourself a professional UV nail polish manicure at home.

Choosing the Right Nail Product for You.

Both nail lacquer and nail polish have their own unique advantages and disadvantages, so feel free to always adapt them to different needs, such as a surprise event, or a planned dinner. travel or simply afternoon laziness.

When deciding which product to use, it’s essential to consider factors like color selection, durability, and price. Ultimately, the right choice comes down to your personal preference and needs. With the information provided in this article, we hope you have a better understanding of the differences between nail lacquer and nail polish.

Sejla Selimovic
Hi, my name is Sejla Selimovic and I am a professional manicurist and nail art technician. With a heightened sense of aesthetics and a great passion for beauty, I work on beautifying the days and nails of many ladies. With over 4 years of experience, I am the co-CEO of the beauty salon "The NN-Nailz Difference". My goal when I started doing this business was to make every dream of my dear clients come true, no matter how demanding it was. Through certified work and experience, every step of the way I ensure that my clients receive a significant, high-quality, relaxing and refreshing treatment.
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