What Is Nail Lacquer, And What Is Used For?

Published on: Apr 18, 2022 • 5 min read


Most of us have heard of liquor. But if you’re strolling down the beauty aisle and see the word lacquer, you might start scratching your head.

Truthfully, nail lacquer isn’t all that different from nail polish. However, they have a few distinct differences that set them apart.

So, should you use nail lacquers or nail polishes for your at-home manicures?

That’s what we’re here to discuss.

Come join me as we venture into the big, wide world of nail lacquers (and to see why you should definitely add this nail product to your shopping list).

nail lacquer

What Is Nail Lacquer?

Nail lacquer is essentially a type of polish designed to strengthen, protect, and create a beautiful finish on top of your nails.

To get a better understanding, look up the word “lacquer.” To break it down, lacquer means a “hard and potentially shiny coating.” And that’s exactly what nail lacquer provides.

Most people will agree that nail lacquer is far thicker than traditional nail polish. It is also said to be more chip-resistant than regular nail polish.

So, when you’re applying nail polish, you might have to use multiple coats.

With a nail lacquer, you may only need to use a single coat of colored nail polish.

What Is Nail Lacquer Used For?

Nail lacquers work the same way as any other nail polish.

It is designed to protect the natural nail with a thick coating while providing a colorful or glossy finish.

What Is the Difference Between Nail Polish and Nail Lacquer?

Ok, so what’s the deal? Why should nail lacquer find its way into your beauty arsenal over regular nail color?

Nail polish, nail lacquer, and nail varnish are frequently used interchangeably.

Their “roots” are the same - they’re designed with a film-forming polymer (nitrocellulose in a solvent such as butyl or ethyl acetate) applied onto the nails.

Each type of beauty treatment also has a wide range of colors to choose from and provides beautiful wear.

However, although lacquer, varnish, and nail polish consist of the same ingredients, they still have subtle differences you should know about.

Let’s check out some of the critical differences between wearing nail polish and wearing a lacquer on the nail bed.

Lacquers Are Thicker Than Nail Polishes

Lacquers (like the ones from popular nail polish brands such as OPI nail lacquer or Sally Hansen) provide a thick coat on top of the nail enamel, more so than regular nail polish.

With the added thickness, you shouldn’t have to worry about redoing your at-home manicure as often as you would with a thinner nail polish option.

When you’re ready to change colors, simply use nail polish remover like any other colored polish.

It is More Chip-Resistant, Too

Anyone who does their own nail coloring will know that chips are a huge pain.

But lacquer is more chip-resistant than traditional nail polish, thanks to the thicker consistency.

So, whether you opt for a daring red nail polish lacquer or opt for a dainty yellow with cute nail art, you shouldn’t have to worry about chipping for at least a week.

However, keep in mind that you still need a base coat and a top coat when wearing a lacquer.

The base coat and top coat will ensure long-lasting wear.

You can also opt for a strengthening base coat to encourage healthier natural nails.

With a top coat, you have options. For example, you might consider a shimmery top coat to go over metallic shades for a really standout style or a matte topcoat for a modern flare.

Nail Lacquers Are Quick-Drying

If you’re like me and can’t stand sitting around waiting for your natural nail plate to dry, you will love the fact that lacquers dry have a swift drying process.

This means less time waiting and more time enjoying your manicure. It also means you won’t have to worry as much about smudging. Win!

Oh, and by the way - lacquer nail products do not require a UV light like gel polish on a gel manicure.

They simply dry faster due to the fast-drying formula they’re created with.

Lacquers Provide a Lustrous Look

Okay, so a nail varnish and some polishes can do this, too, but I’ll be honest - lacquers just tend to look better - especially with proper application.

Lacquers come in different nail colors, which is excellent.

However, the standout difference is that the different colors tend to have a sealing wax with a shiny effect that can’t be beaten.

So, if you’re looking for nails that seem to have a “China glaze” about them, consider using lacquers like those found in high-end salons across the nation.

Lacquers May Be Easier to Work With

Considering the fact that lacquers dry faster, they may be the better option for beginners.

After all, dealing with formulas that don’t dry fast can be tricky and more prone to smudging and other mishaps (like getting color on your beloved furniture).

If you’re new to the world of at-home manicures, consider lacquers!

Nail Lacquer FAQ

Is Nail Lacquer The Same As Nail Gel?

No, lacquers and nail gel are not the same things.

Although both options are thicker - which is excellent for nail protection of brittle nails or encouraging healthy nails - gel nails must harden under a UV-type light. Lacquers do not.

How Do You Remove Nail Lacquer?

Earlier, we mentioned how different lacquer was from traditional polish. And while they have a few key differences, they’re pretty similar when it comes down to it - especially when it comes to removal.

To get lacquers off of your nails, you can use any kind of polish remover (or other preferred methods that keeps your nails stronger).

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