Difference between Nail Paint and Nail Polish

Key difference: There is not much difference between nail paint and nail polish. Nail paint is applied for appearance and protection, whereas nail polish is applied to add color and shine to a nail.

Before the 19th century, people used to color their nails with nail colors. Today, there are varieties of nail color paints available in the market. Nail paints are generally acrylic nail paints. They are used for polishing, in which the chemical layers are not added (which is called as buffing).

The purpose of nail paint is to provide protection to the nail; it also changes the look of the nails into a presentable form. These are used to paint the nails before any designs can be applied to the nails. These nail paints are made up of chemical colors, also they can be prepared from eco-friendly colors.

The origin of nail polishes was found to be in China around some 3000 BC. They were previously made up of a mixture including beeswax, egg whites, gelatin, vegetable dyes, and gum (Arabic). Afterwards, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the people started using a polished look by massaging tinted powders and creams into their nails, then buffing them shiny.

Nail polish is a varnish commonly applied to give a shiny and decorative look to the nails. It prevents the nails from cracking and flaking. They generally give a shiny and a tidy appearance to the nails. Especially, girls and women prefer them, as they add shine and provide protection by acting as a thick cover on the nails.

Their composition includes nitrocellulose dissolved in a solvent (e.g. butyl acetate or ethyl acetate) along with various colors and pigments. The basic components in them include the film forming agents (like silver halide), resins and plasticizers, solvents, and coloring agents.

Comparison between Nail paints and Nail polish:


Nail paints

Nail polish

What are they?

Nail paint is a lacquer applied on the finger and toe nails.

Nail polish is a varnish applied to the finger and toe nails.


They add color and protection to the nails.

They add shine along with protection to the nails.


Nail colors are made up of acrylic colors.

Nail polishes are made up of nail colors and other ingredients.


They do not give shiny effect on the nails.

They give a shiny effect on the nails.

Acts as

They are used to prevent the nails from cracking or flaking.

They provide a thick covering on the nails.

Image Courtesy: girlsnailart.com, thesundaygirl.co

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