Difference Between Nail Polish and Enamel


Main Difference

The main difference between Nail Polish and Enamel is that Nail Polish refers to the appearance of nails, whereas Enamel refers to the specific color.

Nail Polish vs. Enamel

Nail polish is applied to decorate nails or to make them attractive. Enamel is applied to nails to hide the ugly scars on nails. The constituency of nail polish is thick; that’s why it took time to dry. However, the constituency of enamel is thin as a lacquer; that’s why enamel is easy to dry quickly comparatively. Nail polish may be of different kinds like matte, shiny, glittery nude color, bright colors, etc. Enamel is also may be of different type’s e.g., metallic enamel, glass enamel, nail enamel, etc.


Nail polish is always a nail polish. But enamel is also said as nail polish, nail varnish, etc. In case of applying nail polish, firstly base coat is applied, then a coat of nail polish and thirdly a topcoat is applied. While in the case of enamel, only the coat of enamel is applied with the help of the brush.

Nail polish is a type of nail paint. Enamel is a type of cosmetic lacquer. A wide range of different unique colors of nail polish is available in a market. A wide range of specific color enamel is available in the market.

During the use of nail polish, the enamel is also used as a base coat is some situations. When enamel is used separately, it always acts as a topcoat. Somehow nail polish needs a top coat to add a glossy effect to nails. By using only enamel, you can add a glossy effect to your nails without using any specific top coat.


Comparison Chart

Nail PolishEnamel
Nail polish adds beauty to the nails to make them attractive.Enamel adds to the nails to conceal the dents and discoloration.
Apply to the nails to decorate themApply to the nails to make them shiny
It takes more time to dryDry quickly
Presentable effectColor or shiny effect
Non-specific colorSpecific paint

What is Nail Polish?

In China, during 3000 BC, nail polish was first discovered. In ancient times, at the time of the Ming Dynasty, nail polish is made up of by mixing egg whites, vegetables or fruits dyes, Arabic gum, gelatin, and beeswax. Royal women prefer the gold and silver color nail polishes at that time of the Zhou Dynasty, but with time these colors are replaced by the red and black colors as royal favorites. However, In Egypt, lower classes prefer pale colors, and people of high society prefer reddish-brown color. Mummified emperors also have the red color or henna color painted nails.

Nail polish is available in a wide range of different colors. Nail polish gives a shiny and fashionable look to fingernails and toenails. Nail polish is also known as nail varnish. Nail polish is lacquer types that apply to human nails for the purpose of decorating, and to avoid cracking or peeling. Organic polymers and other such components are the constituents of nail polish that play a role in giving a unique color and texture to the nail polish. Different shades or colors of nail polishes plays an important role in manicures and pedicures also.

In early age, nail polish is formed from oxide tin, carmine, and lavender oil. Tinted oils, tinted powder or tinted creams are also used as nail polish to paint nails. Buffing of nails is also in trend for finishing touch, and to make the nails shiny. In the 1920s, only one nail polish product is available in the market i.e., Graf’s Hyglo nail polish.

What is Enamel?

Word enamel refers to a glassy substance that is usually opaque and used as an ornament purpose and for protection purposes. It is also applied on different surfaces of metal, on pottery, etc. Various types of enamel are used in different fields. Enamel is also said to be varnish, paint, polish, etc. Enamel is mostly used for a glossy finishing touch with a bright luster. It is also applicable to such surfaces that are hard to drying. Enamel is of different types such as enamel paint, glass enamel, tooth enamel, decorative enamel, nail enamel, etc.

Enamel acts as a protective layer on all surfaces. Enamel is also the popular name of nail polish. Enamel for nail is present in a small glass bottle with an attached brush and twisted cap. Enamel bottle contains a liquid that applies with brushes on nails to add color. Enamel dries in few minutes and hardens the liquid forming a layer on the surface of the nails. Enamel on nails acts as an accessory to wear matching with the outfit. Enamel is also worn to cover up all imperfections like discoloration of nails, dents on nails, etc. Such discoloration or dents on nails cause awkwardness or embarrassed feelings.

Enamel can easily be removed by using the nail remover to apply a new color or to permanently remove the color. Enamel is made up of four basic constituents like resins, coloring agents, filming agents, etc. Each enamel manufacturing company has its formula to make enamel. There is a wide range of enamel produced by different brands.

Key Differences

  1. Nail polish is of many types and may or may not give a shiny look to nails, whereas enamel gives a shiny effect.
  2. Nail polish available in a range of shades; on the other hand, enamel has specific shades.
  3. Nail polish is a less expensive product; conversely, the enamel is an expensive product.
  4. Nail polish is easily removable; on the flip side, the enamel is difficult to remove.
  5. Nail polish takes time to dry. However, enamel dries rapidly.
  6. Nail polish provides a better look to nails, although enamel provides a thick covering to avoid cracking etc.
  7. Nail polish is for the ornamental purposes; contrarily, the enamel is for blemish purposes.
  8. Nail polish is a temporarily used product; on the other side, the enamel is a long-lasting product.
  9. Nail polish dries slowly, though enamel dries quickly.
  10. Nail polish is comprised of nail colors and other basic ingredients, whether enamel is mainly made up of acrylic colors.


It is concluded that nail polish is for decoration of nails appearance, and enamel is to cover all the imperfections.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson