Difference Between Nail Lacquer and Nail Polish

Adding a pop of color to your nails can totally transform your look and add a feeling of glamour to your overall appearance. But when it comes to buying a nail polish or nail lacquer, have you ever wondered what the difference is between the two?

Nail varnish and nail lacquer are often used interchangeably, but they are not exactly the same thing. In this ultimate guide, we will be diving deep into the world of nail polish and nail lacquer and help you understand the differences between the two.

What is Nail Polish?

When we talk about nail polish, we are referring to the traditional varnish that adds color to your nails. Nail polish consists of three primary components: pigments, solvents, and resins.

The pigments provide the color, the solvents dissolve the resins and pigments, and the resins create a hard, smooth surface when exposed to air. Nail polish is relatively easy to apply and dries quickly.

difference between nail lacquer and nail polish

However, one of the biggest cons of traditional nail polish is that it chips easily, so it requires frequent touch-ups. Therefore, regular nail polish is ideal for those who like to change their nail color often or want to experiment with different shades.

What is Nail Lacquer?

Nail lacquer, on the other hand, is a higher-quality nail polish that is designed to last longer. Lacquers contain a higher ratio of pigments to solvents, which means that they provide more intense colors than nail polishes. In addition, nail lacquers contain plasticizers, which allow them to be more flexible and less prone to chipping, even after several days of wear.

Another major difference between nail polish and lacquer is that the latter often contains shimmer and glitter particles, giving them a dazzling, sparkly effect. Overall, nail lacquer provides better coverage, and the colors tend to be more vibrant and luminous than traditional nail polish.

The Application Process

When it comes to application, there is no significant difference between traditional nail polish and nail lacquer. You can apply both with a brush, and they both require two to three coats for full coverage. The only difference is that nail lacquer may require a bit more drying time between coats.

Below are a few tips for a perfect application:

  • Ensure your nails are clean and dry before applying nail polish or lacquer.
  • Use a base coat to prevent staining your nails and help the color adhere.
  • Apply polish or lacquer in thin layers, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.
  • Finish off with a topcoat to add extra shine and seal in the color.

Shades to Experiment With

No matter whether you choose a traditional nail polish or nail lacquer, there are some shades that are a must-try. Below are a few popular shades to experiment with:

  • Classic Red: A timeless hue that enhances your sophistication and style.
  • Neutral Nude: A minimalistic yet chic shade that blends well with any outfit.
  • Muted Pastels: Soft, delicate hues that add a touch of elegance to your look.
  • Trendy Neons: Bold and eye-catching shades that make a statement.
  • Metallics: Shimmering and captivating shades that exude glamour and sophistication.

Benefits of Nail Lacquer

Now that you know the difference between nail polish and nail lacquer, here are a few benefits of choosing nail lacquer:

Long-lasting: Nail lacquer is less prone to chipping and can last up to one week or more.

Ultra-vibrant: Lacquers contain more pigments and provide an intense and luminous color payoff.

Trendy Finishes: Lacquers often have shimmery, glittery options that add a dazzle to your nails.

Better for Nail Health: Compared to traditional nail polish, nail lacquer is less harmful to your nails.


Now that you know the difference between nail polish and nail lacquer, you can choose the one that best suits your needs and style. Whether you want an intense and long-lasting color or prefer to switch things up on the regular with different shades, there is a nail product out there for you! So, next time you visit the nail salon or step into a cosmetics store, you can confidently pick out the product you need. Remember, your nails are an extension of your personality, and they should always reflect who you are!

FAQs – Difference Between Nail Lacquer and Nail Polish

1. What is nail lacquer?

Nail lacquer is a type of nail coating that typically has a thicker consistency and longer-lasting formula compared to traditional nail polish. It contains higher levels of resins and plasticizers, which provide a harder, more durable finish.

2. What is nail polish?

Nail polish is a liquid cosmetic product applied to the nails to give them color and shine. It consists of a mixture of pigments, solvents, and film-formers that create a protective layer on the nail surface.

3. How do nail lacquer and nail polish differ in terms of durability?

Nail lacquer generally offers better durability than nail polish due to its thicker consistency and higher concentration of resins and plasticizers. This results in a longer-lasting, more chip-resistant finish.

4. Are there any differences in the application process between nail lacquer and nail polish?

Both nail lacquer and nail polish are applied using a brush, but nail lacquer may require fewer coats due to its thicker formula. Additionally, nail lacquer often takes longer to dry compared to nail polish, so extra care should be taken to avoid smudging during the drying process.

5. Is there a difference in the range of colors and finishes available for nail lacquer and nail polish?

Both nail lacquer and nail polish come in a wide variety of colors and finishes, including matte, glossy, glitter, and metallic. However, some high-end or professional nail lacquer brands may offer a more extensive selection of unique shades and textures.

6. Can I use a top coat and base coat with both nail lacquer and nail polish?

Yes, you can use a top coat and base coat with both nail lacquer and nail polish to improve the longevity of your manicure and protect your nails. Just ensure that the products are compatible with each other for the best results.

7. Are there any differences in the removal process for nail lacquer and nail polish?

Nail lacquer may be slightly more challenging to remove than nail polish due to its stronger formula. However, both can be removed using an acetone-based nail polish remover or a non-acetone alternative, depending on your preference and sensitivity.

8. Which one should I choose: nail lacquer or nail polish?

The choice between nail lacquer and nail polish depends on your personal preferences and needs. If you’re looking for a longer-lasting, more durable manicure, nail lacquer may be the better option. However, if you prefer a thinner consistency and quicker drying time, nail polish may be more suitable. Experiment with both types to find the one that works best for you.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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