Lacquer and Enamel

Celebrity Q and A's Can you please tell me the difference between a nail "lacquer" and a nail "enamel"? Is an enamel a better product to use on natural nails---will it stay on longer? Thanks! Sheila 3/03

Nail polish, color, lacquer, enamel- they are all the same products being described by different marketing terms. Of course the formulations are different- but in small ways, i.e different combination or amounts of additives. Flexibilizers, UV blockers and drying accelerating solvents are examples. Even so, there is not much difference in performance, since the basic chemistry is the same. When it comes to these this category of nail products, it's all about color. Mainly because the difference in performances might be one day, on the average. Another factor is polish thickness. The thicker the polish the more luxurious it feels to apply, so everyone assumes it will last longer... but it don't help and can increase cracking. Another downside is that the polish will thicken to unusable more quickly, i.e. when it's only been half used. Hope that explains the issue for you and answers your question.
Doug Schoon
V.P. Science & Technology, Creative Nail Design, Inc.

According to the dictionary the relevant definitions of polish, lacquer, and enamel from Merriam-Webster online:

POLISH (noun) 
definition #3 : a preparation that is used to produce a gloss and often a color for the protection and decoration of a surface  

LACQUER (noun)
definition #2 : any of various clear or colored synthetic organic coatings that typically dry to form a film by evaporation of the solvent; especially : a solution of a cellulose derivative (as nitrocellulose)

ENAMEL (noun)
definition #4 : a cosmetic intended to give a smooth or glossy appearance
definition #6 : a paint that flows out to a smooth coat when applied and that dries with a glossy appearance

Since nail polish fits ALL of these definitions, the terms "nail polish", "nail lacquer", and "nail enamel", can be used interchangeably.
Paul Bryson, Ph.D.
Co-Director of Research & Development, O. P. I. Products, Inc.


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