The Great Debate: Nail Polish vs. Nail Lacquer

Last updated on : August 13 2023

Nail Polish vs. Nail Lacquer

Article Summary

Lauren Conrad calls nail polish, “the unexpected accessory.” She explains that nail polish adds color to your overall look and completes your outfit.

In this article, we take an in-depth look at nail paints as a whole, offering insights into some of the innovative nail polish lines from leading brands. We look at some natural solutions. And we tackle the differences between nail polish and lacquer.

Click on the links below to learn more.


Natural Nail Polish

History of Nail Polish

What is Nail Lacquer?

Nail Polish vs. Nail Lacquer

How to Choose Your Nail Polish

Other Popular Nail Coverings



In her book, Lauren Conrad Style, Lauren Conrad calls nail polish, “the unexpected accessory.” She explains that nail polish adds color to your overall look and completes your outfit.

Nail polish or nail lacquer is a crucial fashion accessory if you are in the habit of changing nail paints according to the trends. Or have a favorite color that you apply regularly.

It gives your overall look polish, style, and a touch of femininity. It allows you to experiment with different colors, from mint green and canary yellow to blood red and midnight blue!

Nail polish is colorful

There are many things to consider when choosing a nail polish or lacquer. The color might be the first thing that appeals to you. However, there is so much more than color. Today you can choose between quick-dry, artist-inspired, chip-resistant, long-lasting and more!

In this article, we take an in-depth look at nail paints as a whole, offering insights into some of the innovative nail polish lines from leading brands. We look at some natural solutions. And we tackle the differences between nail polish and lacquer.

For long, natural healthy nails check out our post, Goodbye Manicures, and Pedicures: Secrets to Natural and Healthy Nails.

Natural Nail Polish

For those that prefer a natural solution for their nails. 100%Pure offers a 10Free nail polish that is entirely free of the top ten toxic ingredients found in most nail polishes.

No toluene, DBP, camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene, parabens, fragrances, phthalates, and animal ingredients. It's cruelty-free nail polish!

History of Nail Polish


The history of nail polish traces back to 3000 BC in China. During the rule of the Zhou dynasty. The first nail polishes were metallic colors like silver and gold because they showed off wealth and power.

As time passed, black, red, and, other colors replaced metallic. The Ming dynasty used egg whites, vegetable dyes, beeswax, Arabic gum, and gelatin to create colors like coral and sunshine.

History of nail polish

The Chinese used nail polish as an accessory to distinguish the ruling class from ordinary citizens. The general population wasn't allowed to wear nail polish, and several reports indicate the executions of those who did!

Middle East, North Africa and Egypt

The application of nail paints spread across the globe to the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Egypt. In Egypt, people polished their nails with colors according to their position in society.

Rulers used henna to paint their nails in a reddish-brown color and lower classes paler shades. Mummified pharaohs had their nails painted with henna when buried.


New trade connections between India and the Middle East in the Renaissance period brought nail paints to the European aristocracy. Access to Europe turned nail paints into a fashion accessory.

Nail polish and manicures

20th Century

Nail polish became common as time passed, in every society around the globe. However, it took the 20th-century salons and manicure establishments, particularly in Europe and North America, to solidify nail polish into the mainstream.

Today, manicures and pedicures are fashion staples, and painting one’s nails is as common as drinking a bottle of water.

What is Nail Lacquer?

Nail lacquer is a recent discovery, available in the markets in the last few years. When you apply a varnish to anything, you do it to give the substance a glossy and smooth finish. The same is true with nail lacquers.

Nail lacquers, also known as varnishes, add thickness to your nails. They apply smoothly and dry quickly. They give your nails a lustrous look and a trendy, fashionable style to your hands that is feminine and attractive.

Nail lacquers

Nail lacquer is available in hundreds of colors, making it easy to find a color that fits your style. Some have special effects like shimmer or glitter, enhancing the overall look and making them fun to apply and form.

A mix of many different chemicals creates nail lacquers. Solvents like ethyl acetate provide a liquid base with varnish and other ingredients suspended. Thickeners ensure the color particles distribute evenly throughout the solution. Resins in the mixture make sure that the lacquer bonds to the nails.

Nail Polish vs. Nail Lacquer

Nail polish VS Nail Lacquer

The terms nail lacquers and nail polishes are synonymous. However, there are differences between the two.

  • Use nail lacquers to protect your nails. Use nail polish for decorating and coloring your nails.
  • Nail polish is often much thinner in consistency than nail lacquers. Nail lacquers are renowned for their thickness.
  • Nail polish lends a designer look to your nails. Nail lacquer makes your nails look shiny and glossy.
  • One of the advantages of choosing nail lacquers over nail polishes is that they strengthen your nails with their thick coating.
  • Many stylists and cosmetologist recommend nail lacquers because they are durable and chip resistant.
  • Nail polish is available in more colors and shades than nail lacquers.

How to Choose Your Nail Polish

As you decide between nail polish and nail lacquer, remember that most major brands offer a variety of both finishes. There are numerous brands on the market. So, it is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Quality nail paints offer you a spa-like finish that lasts for up to two weeks. Weak quality nail paints chip and fades at the first sign of water or sweat.

We've compiled a list of the most popular brands on the market today, with information about each of their nail paint product lines.


OPI is renowned for its range of colors and finishes. There is a reason why high-end salons use OPI. Their nail paints are vibrant in color, last longer than most, and do not readily chip. The brand is synonymous with quality nail paint available in many varieties, finishes, and colors.

Their website helps you choose shades for special events or a going out outfit. To see how a color looks on your nails, try it on virtually using their website. We found the site easy to navigate. It allows you to choose a color on your terms, without being hurried in a store.

With OPI, you have a choice between different collections like Infinite Shine, Retro Summer, Alice in Wonderland, New Orleans, and Hello Kitty.

Sally Hansen

Sally Hansen offers a wide variety of paint shades and a range of nail care products. Their collections include Hard as Nails, Miracle Gel, and Insta-Dri.

Miracle Gel is one of our favorite nail polishes because it is highly resistant to chipping. Use the quiz on their website to find your perfect Miracle Gel shade based on your interests and your skin tone.

All the nail lacquers and finishes by Sally Hansen apply quickly, are long-lasting and fast drying. They have an excellent applicator brush too.


United States fashionistas love Essie. It's diverse collections in Viva Antigua, Shimmer Brights, and Mrs. Always-Right offer you radiant and vibrant colors and beautiful pastel shades.

Their website is straightforward to navigate and makes choosing between different colors easy. It provides a palette of shades from metallic effects to tones that blend.

Other Brands

We enjoy China Glaze, M.A.C. Studio, and Butter London. Many of these have been used in our fashion shoots, and work well.

Read More -Goodbye Manicures and Pedicures: The Secret To Natural And Healthy Nails

Other Popular Nail Coverings

When it comes to expressing your unique style through your nails, the possibilities are endless. From vibrant colors to intricate designs, your nails can be a canvas for creativity. This section delves into different nail enhancement options beyond the regular nail polish and lacquer.

  • Gel or Shellac Nails: These are longer-lasting options than regular nail polish. They're applied in layers and cured under a UV or LED light. They offer a glossy finish and can last a couple of weeks.
  • Acrylic Nails: Acrylic nails involve applying a mixture of liquid monomer and powder polymer to your natural nails or nail tips. They're strong and durable but require regular maintenance as your natural nails grow.
  • Dip Powder Nails: Similar to acrylics, this involves dipping your nails in a colored powder and sealing with a clear protective layer. It's also long-lasting and doesn't require UV light.
  • Nail Art: Many salons offer intricate nail art designs, from simple patterns to more elaborate designs. This is a great way to showcase your style and creativity.
  • Press-On Nails: If you want a temporary option, press-on nails are adhesive nails that you can easily apply and remove at home. They come in various designs.

Remember, the choice depends on your preferences, budget, and the level of maintenance you're comfortable with. Have fun experimenting and finding the best way to showcase your style.


Nail polish and lacquers are undisputed fashion accessories that transform and complete your look. Try them in a wide range of colors, shades, and applications from glitter to vibrant colors, or soft pastel shades.

Painting your nails turns your look sexy. It's one of the most feminine fashion accessories out there!

Found this post helpful?

Don't forget to share on Pinterest.

The Great Debate: Nail Polish vs. Nail Lacquer, pinterest

Related Topics

The Kewl Shop

The Kewl Shop is a blog. We write about all things lifestyle with a strong focus on relationships, self-love, beauty, fitness, and health. Important stuff that every modern woman or man needs to know.

If you know us well, then welcome back. Otherwise, enjoy the read, take a look at our latest articles and exciting YouTube channel.

Editor: Charles Fitzgerald

Join our Mailing List

Sign up to receive our daily email and get 50% off your first purchase.