A hand and nail polish

Nail Enamel vs. Nail Polish vs. Nail Dips: What is the Difference?

Do you want to treat yourself to a fresh set of nails but don't know what type of manicure to choose? Nowadays, there are so many different types of manicures that it can be challenging to decide which one is best. Often there is even more than one name for the same thing—confusing! 

Luckily, we've created the ultimate guide to different types of manicures. We will explain everything you need to know, like the difference between enamel and nail polish. You’ll even get the inside scoop on the hottest new trend—dip manicures. In no time, you'll be sporting a fresh set of nails and will know your salon lingo from top to bottom. 

Nail Enamel Vs. Nail Polish

If you've ever gotten a manicure, you've probably had your nails painted with nail polish. It’s a beauty practice that has been around for over 5000 years. What you may not know is that nail polish goes by several different names, including nail enamel, nail paint, nail lacquer, and nail varnish. That’s right, all of these are just different names for the same thing!

How Is Nail Polish Applied?

This type of manicure typically begins with a nail bed clean-up. Your nails are prepped with filing, buffing, and cuticle trimming. After your nail beds are looking shiny and new, a clear base coat is applied. 

Next, the nail polish—or whatever your preferred name for it is—is painted on each of your nails. After the second coat of color is applied, a top coat is painted over your nails to seal in the color and give you that fresh manicure shine. Then you wait for it to dry for thirty-ish minutes while you try not to touch anything to prevent smudging. 

The Pros And Cons Of Nail Polish

Pros: These types of manicures are extremely accessible. They are available at every nail salon and are often the most affordable type of manicure. You can buy nail polish anywhere that sells cosmetics, including makeup stores, drug stores, and even grocery stores—if you're in a pinch. 

Cons: The main downside of regular nail polish or nail enamel is that it takes forever to dry. You basically have to schedule your entire day around your manicure because you can’t do anything with your hands for hours afterward if you want to preserve your manicure. Even after your manicure is mostly dry, they remain a bit squishy for up to 24 hours. This can be a major pain in the butt. 

Classic polish can also be a bit tricky if you try to apply it at home. How many times have you spent way too much time giving yourself the perfect manicure at home only to end up with tiny bubbles all over, smudges from bumping into something, or worst of all—a spilled bottle! Nail polish can be disastrously messy and impossible to clean up. 

If you manage to get through the application and the drying time unscathed, then you will have beautiful shiny nails for up to a week. After a week, the nail polish will begin to chip, and you will be due for a new set of paint. 

Luckily, in the last few years, there have been many developments to the nail polish game. There are now several different types of manicures that will dry instantly and last longer. Our favorite long-lasting method is dip powder manicures. 

Nail Dips

Dip powder manicures are relatively new and are an excellent option for getting a stunning manicure from the comfort of your home. They are easy to apply and can last anywhere from three to six weeks!

You may be thinking that this sounds similar to a gel manicure. Gel manicures are a popular long-lasting type of manicure that uses a special polish cured with UV light. However, gel manicures only last three weeks, while a dip powder manicure can last twice as long. 

Dip powder manicures can be applied to natural nails or fake nails in a matter of minutes. Each nail is painted with a base coat then dipped into a fine acrylic powder. Once the liquid activator is applied, the powder hardens instantly—no bulky equipment needed. 

If gel manis are your go-to, then you should consider switching over to dip powder. It is more affordable and doesn’t use any UV lights that could potentially harm your health. Dip polish lasts longer than any other type of manicure and is so easy to apply. You can do it at home in a matter of minutes! 

How To Apply A Dip Manicure

If you want to try a dip manicure at home, all you need is a NailBoo Dip Kit. These amazing starter kits have everything you need to get salon-quality nails at home in a matter of minutes. Simply pick out your colors from the wide selection of vibrant options, and we’ll include everything else you need for a glossy at-home mani. 

All of the starter kits come with a three-step liquid kit and a cleaner for finishing effects. You’ll also get build powder, colored powder, a brush, a four-way file, cuticle pusher, and removal clips to help you safely remove your color once you are finished.

How to apply: 

  1. Prep: Start by prepping your nails. Thoroughly clean and file your nails. Next, use the cuticle pusher to gently push back your cuticles. 
  2. Base Coat And Build: Apply Base 1 from your NailBoo Kit to one of your nails. Then dip that nail into the Build Powder and tap off the excess powder. Repeat this with each nail, and then use the brush to remove any remaining excess powder. 
  3. Base Coat And Color Powder: Apply another layer of the base coat liquid to each nail, but this time, dip the nail into the color powder of your choice. After you have done each nail, gently brush off the excess powder. Repeat this process twice to create two layers of gorgeous color. 
  4. Activator Coat: Apply Activator 2 from your NailBoo Kit to each nail. Wait two minutes for this layer to dry. This is the step that brings your dip manicure to life by hardening the color for a durable final product. 
  5. File and Buff: After your coat of Activator has dried, use the buffer to buff the tops of each nail. 
  6. Repeat Steps Three and Four Again: Add another layer of Activator and wait two minutes. Then buff one more time. 
  7. Top Coat:  Apply Top 3 from your NailBoo Kit to each nail. Wait a couple of minutes, and then apply a second layer. This top coat is the finishing touch that secures everything together, delivers beautiful shine, and even protects your nails from the harmful UV rays of the sun. 

Applying a dip manicure is easy, quick, and mess-free! You will be amazed at the professional, salon-quality results. Kiss the time and expense of salon manicures goodbye, and say hello to endless sets of stunning nails. 

Dip Powder Vs. Nail Polish

Comparing a dip powder manicure to classic nail polish is like comparing a superhero to a human. Nail dips are more durable, easier to apply, and deliver salon-quality results every single time. 

Dip powder manicures last six times as long as regular polish manicures. So, you don’t have to make time to refresh your mani every week. Dip nails dry instantly, allowing you to paint your nails any time without worrying about smudges or taking the rest of the day off. This makes them an excellent option for people with busy schedules. 

Dip powder will also protect your natural nails underneath with the use of Nailboo’s Build Powder. This powder goes on before your color powder and acts to strengthen your natural nails and protect them from damage. This makes dip nails a great option for people with brittle nails or people who work with their hands a lot. 

There is simply no better way to get gorgeous salon-quality nails at home than with a dip powder manicure. This fantastic new nail trend is a total game-changer. Once you try an at-home dip kit for yourself, you will never go back. Get ready for endless compliments!


Wrap Up

Nail polish, nail lacquer, nail enamel, or nail varnish—no matter what you call it, it’s soon to be a thing of the past. Nail dip manicures are the newest and easiest way to gorgeous nails time and time again. With dip powder, there’s no smudging, no bubbles, and no chipping, just 365 days of stunning nails. 

With Nailboo, your nails will be looking fabulous in no time. So what are you waiting for? Choose your starter kit today! 



Difference Between Nail Polish and Nail Enamel | Difference Between 

Acrylic nail curing UV lamps: High-intensity exposure warrants further research of skin cancer risk | JAAD

How to Strengthen Nails: 15 Ways to Fix Brittle and Peeling Nails | Healthline

Nail Polish History - Who invented Nail Polish | History of Cosmetics

Back to blog