Types of Nail Polishes

If you are not a professional nail tech, you might get lost in all of the nail products terminology because there are so many different names for the same products! You might have heard about gel polish, UV polish, dipping polish, regular polish…but what is the difference?

Types of Nail Polish

There are 4 main types of polish on the market: regular polish, UV polish, gel-like polish and dipping polish. Their formula, wear and application vary.

Regular Polish

This one is the classic one, the one you can find everywhere, drugstores, department stores, salons, etc.  The wear of regular polish is quite limited, it varies from brand to brand but usually it wears from 4 to 7 days. It can chip quite easily so a good base and top coat is recommended. The price of regular polish is very interesting, mostly for people starting out with nail products, it is usually around 5 to 10$. Regular polish can be removed easily with a remover, with or without acetone in it. It is the ideal polish for someone who likes to change colors often and get different finishes for an affordable price!

UV Polish (or Gel Polish)

UV polish is also sometimes called gel polish or semi-permanent polish. Their formula is different from regular polish, they need to be cured under a lamp in order to dry and become hard. Time of curing varies according to the type of lamp you have, but for a 36w UV lamp, it is usually 2 minutes per coat. This polish does not chip and the wear is usually 2 to 3 weeks. . Application is a bit more complicated than regular polish and requires practice. You absolutely need a UV base and top coat for this technique. We recommend using products from the same brand to insure quality and good wear.  After curing your last coat (top coat) you will have to remove the sticky effect with a cotton and 100% pure alcohol. To remove UV polish, you have to soak the nails in an acetone remover for 10 to 15 minutes.  UV polishes are a bit more expensive than regular polish but the price depends on the brand. The most popular one is Shellac and the price is around 20$ for a 7.3 ml bottle. You also have to calculate the cost of a lamp which is around 50-150$ for 36W. This type of polish is best for you if you like having the same color for more than one week.

Gel-Like Polish

Gel-like polish is a regular polish with a gel effect. Gel is known for its thick and glossy finish and gel-like polishes replicate that very well, but with a shorter wear time (5 to 10 days) and no need for a lamp. This polish air dries just like regular polish. The cost is similar to regular polish, around 10$. Good examples of gel-like polish are essie Gel Couture, Vinylux from CND.

Dipping polish

This one is tricky because it is not actual liquid polish like the others, dipping polish is the name given to a technique that uses powder and resin. It is a simplified version of the resin technique. This method lasts up to 3 weeks on the nail and can be dissolved in acetone . Popular brand of dip polish are Oh Blush, Kiara Sky and Gelish.


Different finishes

Now that you know every type of polish that exist, you need to kno about the different finishes! There are so many!!

  • Cream
    Basic color, without any sheen or glitter.
  • Iridescent
    Polish that shines under light
  • Glitter
    Polish with glitter particules.
  • Holographic
    Polish with a holographic shimmer.
  • Magnetic
    Polish that reacts to magnets
  • Cracked
    Polish with cracked effect, gives a edgy look.
  • Matte
    Polish with a matte finish. Usually it is the top coat that gives the matte finish, not the color.
  • Metallic/Chrome
    Polish with metallic finish, mostly silver or gold colors.
  • Mood
    Polish that changes color with the temperature or with your mood.
  • Mirror
    Effect achieved with a mirror powder that you apply on top of your polish.
  • Neon
    Neon color, like a highlighter pen.
  • Fluorescent
    Polish that glows in the dark.
  • Velvet
    Effect achieved by a velvet powder that you apply on top of your polish.


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Types of Nail Polishes

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