Understanding the Difference between Nail Lacquer and Polish

You have probably been to the nail salon countless times and noticed that some nail products are referred to as polish while others are referred to as lacquer. But have you ever wondered what sets the two apart? Well, wonder no more! In this article, we will be exploring the difference between nail lacquer and polish. We will be going into detail about their ingredients, application, texture, and finish. So sit tight and let’s get started!


Nail polish and lacquer have different ingredients. Nail polish is usually made from nitrocellulose, resins, and plasticizers, and may contain pigments, glitter, and other additives. On the other hand, nail lacquer is made up of nitrocellulose, resins, plasticizers, and solvents. Lacquer also has a more concentrated pigment, and that’s why it typically provides a more opaque and shinier finish.


Applying nail polish and lacquer can be different in terms of their application process. Nail polish is usually more watery in consistency, which makes them quick-drying and easy to apply. On the other hand, nail lacquer has a thicker consistency, which makes them more gel-like and not so runny. You need to be a bit more meticulous when applying lacquer because it can easily smudge or streak.

Understanding the Difference between Nail Lacquer and Polish
Understanding the Difference between Nail Lacquer and Polish


The texture of nail polish and lacquer can also be different. As mentioned earlier, polish has a more watery consistency that makes it easy to apply. When it dries, it usually has a smooth and glossy texture. Conversely, lacquer has a thick texture that can be a bit sticky. When it dries, it creates a smooth and shiny texture that lasts longer than nail polish.


The difference between nail polish and lacquer comes down to their finish. Typically, nail lacquer provides a more shiny and glossy finish than polish because of its thicker pigmentation and the concentration of the ingredients in the formula. Nail polish can give off a high shine as well, although it can be prone to chipping and fading faster than lacquer.

Tips for using nail polish

  • Always apply a base coat before applying nail polish. It helps to prevent staining and makes the polish stick better.
  • Apply two coats of polish to provide a consistent and long-lasting coverage.
  • Finish it off with a top coat to protect the color from chipping, cracking or fading.

Tips for using nail lacquer

  • Keep the lacquer cap tightly closed when not using it.
  • Before applying the lacquer, thin the formula by adding a few drops of acetone. It helps to prevent the formula from thickening.
  • Apply thin layers of lacquer to achieve a smooth and even coverage.


In summary, nail polish and lacquer are two different types of products used for achieving beautiful nails with various kinds of finishes. While the differences in their ingredients, application, texture, and finish might not be significant, they are definitely worth knowing so that you can make the right choice based on your needs and preferences. Now that you know the difference between nail polish and lacquer, you can go ahead and rock your favorite nail color with confidence!


1. What is the main difference between nail lacquer and nail polish?

Nail lacquer is a more durable and long-lasting formula compared to nail polish. While both products are used to color nails, nail lacquer typically has a thicker consistency and offers better adhesion to the nail surface, often resulting in a longer-lasting finish.

2. How do the ingredients differ between nail lacquer and nail polish?

Nail lacquer generally contains higher amounts of resins, solvents, and plasticizers than nail polish, which provide it with its long-lasting properties. On the other hand, nail polish usually contains more pigments and has a thinner consistency, making it easier to apply but less durable.

3. Can I use both nail lacquer and nail polish together?

Yes, you can use both products together. For instance, you can apply a base coat of nail lacquer for added durability and then use nail polish for the desired color. You can also use a top coat of nail lacquer to seal and protect the nail polish, extending its wear time.

4. Is nail lacquer or nail polish better for professional use?

Nail lacquer is often preferred by professionals due to its long-lasting properties and better adhesion. However, nail polish can still be used for quick touch-ups or when a client prefers a specific color that's only available in a polish formula.

5. Are there any disadvantages to using nail lacquer over nail polish?

Nail lacquer may take longer to dry due to its thicker consistency, and it can sometimes be more challenging to apply evenly. Additionally, since nail lacquer is more durable, it can be harder to remove than nail polish, requiring a stronger nail polish remover or more time for removal.

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