What Is The Difference Between Nail Lacquer and Gel Polish?

Using nail polish is a great way to show your creativity and express yourself through its different colors and designs. That said, the market has evolved so much through time that you’ll now hear about new products beyond regular nail polish, such as nail lacquer and gel polish.

So, what exactly are all these new things, and how do they differ from each other? Check out the information below to learn more about the ultimate showdown when it comes to getting your nails done: nail lacquer vs gel polish.

This way, you’ll know what to pick up the next time you visit the drugstore or what to ask for in your next nail appointment.


Nail Lacquer vs. Nail Polish

Difference Between Nail Lacquer and Nail Polish

Nail lacquer and nail polish are often used synonymously since they’re both liquids used to protect and color your nails. That said, there are slight differences between the two.

Nail polish is essentially a varnish that adds shine to your nails. It comes in different colors that you can experiment and play around with to dress your nails and match them to your style. It also provides a coating for your nails so that they’re well-protected from possible cracking or flaking.

Nail lacquers, on the other hand, have similar benefits and characteristics. They’re also a quick-drying varnish applied to the nails, but compared to polish, they have a thicker solution. Essentially, nail lacquers are nail polishes, except they’re made to be thicker to provide extra protection.

Some of the key differences between nail lacquer and nail polish include the following:


Nail polish is often used for decorating and coloring nails, while nail lacquer is more often used for protection. The latter can also add color to nails, but it’s more often used for protection purposes.



Both are made with nitrocellulose, but the polish is mixed with solvents while the lacquer is mixed with alcohol.



Nail polish provides a decorative and fashionable look to your nails, while nail lacquer adds shine and texture to your nails.



Nail lacquers are more durable and chip-resistant than polish since they provide a thicker coating for your nails. They’re particularly beneficial if you have brittle nails since lacquer can help strengthen them while also making them look lustrous.



Nail polishes often come in a wide range of shades, so you have more options to choose from. Nail lacquers are more limited in availability and usually come in fewer colors.

There have been many debates in the industry about whether nail lacquer is truly thicker than other nail polish types. Some still believe that they refer to the same product, so the terms tend to be used interchangeably.

However, it’s still helpful to know the subtle differences between the two, so you can get the right products or services.


Nail Lacquer vs. Gel Polish

Nail Lacquer vs. Gel Polish

Now that you know what nail lacquer is, you might be wondering about how it compares to gel nail polish.

Gel polish has become so popular in the beauty industry because it lasts longer and solves the one problem every nail lover experiences — chipping. In most cases, gel manicures are more expensive — and for good reason! Here are the main differences between nail lacquer against gel polish to help you get acquainted with the two:


As mentioned above, lacquer is mainly composed of nitrocellulose mixed with alcohol. On the other hand, gel polish has acrylic monomers and oligomers that harden when exposed to UV light.



Gel polishes have a more extensive application process, so they take longer. Nail lacquers are done after applying the base and topcoat. With gel polishes, you’ll need to put your nails under a UV lamp after applying every coat to cure the polish.



Lacquers can easily be wiped away with nail polish remover. As for gel polish, you’ll need to soak your gel nails in acetone for about 10 to 15 minutes. Once you notice the polish starting to lift away, you can scrape it off with a cuticle stick.



Gel polish is more durable compared to traditional lacquer since it uses stronger ingredients. These allow gel manicures to last longer and stand against daily wear and tear more effectively. The best part is that they don’t chip!

Generally, nail lacquer lasts a few days while gel polish can last two to three weeks. However, the actual duration depends on many factors like your lifestyle, the condition of your nails, and others.


Should You Get Nail Lacquer or Gel Polish?

Should You Get Nail Lacquer or Gel Polish

Nail lacquer and gel polish are great choices if you are looking for nail protection. Nail lacquer provides a thick coating for your nails while gel polish adds a layer of protection to prevent your nails from breaking. So, between nail lacquer and gel polish, which one should you choose?

Ultimately, there’s no right answer to this question since it depends on you. As mentioned in the beginning, nail products are like accessories to dress up your nails, so you can choose based on your style, taste, preference, and lifestyle.

If you like changing the color of your nails often, regular polish and lacquer will likely be more suitable since they’re easier to remove and less costly. However, if you’re busy and constantly on the go, gel nails type will be a better option since they’ll last longer and won’t get chipped from your daily activities.

You can also consider gel polish if you’re trying to grow your nails out since you won’t need to keep replacing them while waiting. While some people might do their gel nails themselves, it’s generally recommended to get this done by a manicurist to avoid possible damage.

If you still can’t decide, it might be best to try both and see what works best for you! As they say, you never know until you try, so it’ll help if you experience firsthand what it’s like to get a traditional nail lacquer vs gel polish yourself.


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