Nail polish is a multicoloured hard coating applied on the nails to provide protection or decoration. Commonly used during manicures and pedicures, used in several designs and techniques. Nail polish was originally used to colour royal houses in China in 3000 BCE. During that time, nail polishes were made out of beeswax, gelatin, egg compounds, and dyes made from pigmented vegetables. 

Nail polish has evolved and employed newer technology to enhance formulation, including nitrocellulose in butyl acetate or ethyl acetate. Acrylic nail polish utilizes acrylic resin that layers on the nails, creating a durable nail polish finish. Basic Nail polish is a beginner’s choice, employing how most nail polish is applied. Shellac is a specialized gel brand that provides a higher lacquer concentration than most gel-based formulas. Breathable nail polish creates a semipermeable coating that helps hydrate and aerates the beds of the nails. Dip powder uses a powder consistency in applying high-gradient coloured nails. Gel Nail Polish uses a gel-based formula and pairs with UV light to cure a much more pliant nail polish coating than regular ones. The PolyGel nail polish is a hybrid between Gel and Acrylic nail polishes, employing both formulas, promises a nail polish lifespan of up to three weeks.

1. Acrylic


Acrylic nail polish is a kind of nail polish, usually made from a liquid and powder mixture, that is placed on the nails. Water-based acrylic nail polish contains acrylic resin, that when mixed with water, creates a strong coating on the nails when it dries out. Prior to the application of acrylic nail polish, make sure the nails are clean, buffed, primed, and trimmed at a manageable length. First, glue the tips, choosing the perfect size, on the nails and let them dry out before cutting them according to the desired length. Using a brush, swipe some acrylic liquid to the acrylic powder to create a tiny moist ball consisting of the base layer of the acrylic nail polish. Brush on the acrylic nail mixture, making sure that every corner, most especially the area near the cuticle, is well covered. Even out the acrylic nail polish and let it dry for at least ten minutes to completely adhere to the nails. After the acrylic had dried out, using a nail file, shape the tips and brush off excess grits to make the nails glossier. Lastly, paint the acrylic-covered nail with any nail polish colour desired. Acrylic-based nail polish is best for people who have the luxury of time but are looking for a sturdier set of nails, as it takes a while longer to apply than regular nail polish. The retail price for Acrylic Nail Polish starts at £1.59 GBP. 

Advantages of Acrylic Nail Polish
Disadvantages of Acrylic Nail Polish
Less overpowering scent than alcohol-based enamels.
Some formulas can be damaging to the nails. 
Acrylic Nail Polish makes it easier to put on designs. 
It takes a lot of time and technique to perfect the procedure. 
Do not stick too much on surfaces, easier clean-up.  
Requires several layers to achieve a pigmented colour. 
Stronger coating, long-lasting. 

Claimed as more environmental-friendly.

Acrylic Nail Polish

2. Basic


Basic Nail polish is the standard usual nail polish done in salons, usually referred to as nail varnish. People use a lacquer-based formula that coats the nail, preventing drying out. The nails are first filed, buffed and cleaned around the cuticle area prior to basic nail polishing. In some salons, applying hand cream is often done before proceeding with painting the nails. The base coat is done first, allowing it to dry before the application of the colour layer. After the desired intensity of the colour is achieved, a topcoat is brushed on last to provide the protective layer. Basic Nail polish applies cuticle oil on the nails after the topcoat has dried and set in. This type of nail polish is ideal for beginners, as this follows the simple standard procedure of nail polish application. Basic Nail Polish is priced at £10 GBP. 

Advantages of Basic Nail Polish

Disadvantages of Basic Nail Polish

Easier to remove. 

Takes a while to dry in between coating.

More traditional and has a familiar procedure. 

Only lasts for a week or shorter days in comparison with acrylic or gel-based formulas. 

It can be safely removed at home using acetone. 

Less costly than other types of nail polish. 

Basic Nail Polish

3. Shellac


Shellac nail polish is a gel-based nail polish brand originally formulated and patented by a company called Creative Nail Design (CND). The Shellac, with its shiny and strong coating, promises two weeks of quality lacquer polish than any other brand of gel-based nail polish. What differentiates Shellac from other gel-based nail polish is that it contains a lot more lacquer than gel, which gives an advantage to sturdier but easy-to-remove nail polish. With a clean set of nails, apply a layer of the Shellac base coating solution. Salons typically place the nails under UV light in order to set the nails for at least 10 seconds. To be done twice, a Shellac colour coat is then applied on the nails and then under the UV light for at least two minutes. The Shellac topcoat is applied last to provide the finishing protective layer. Shellac Nail Polish is ideal for people who are looking for a longer-lasting polish finish that doesn’t easily chip off after. The average price for CND Shellac will range from £23 to £25 GBP.   

Advantages of Shellac Nail Polish

Disadvantages of Shellac Nail Polish

Long-lasting lacquered nails. 

Can damage the nails when curing is not done properly.

Do not easily break or chip away. 

Requires specialized tools like UV light to activate and dry. 

Immediately dries with UV light. 

Requires professional help to remove the polish. 

Shellac Nail Polish

4. Breathable

Breathable nail polish is a specialized kind of formula with polymers that allows the nails to absorb as much moisture and air as needed. Creating a water-permeable layer, Breathable nail polish contrasts traditional nail polish rules, which prevent hydration overall. Breathable nail polish does not only provide lacquer to the nails, but also contains essential oils to keep them looking healthy.  With a clean set of fingernails, apply the breathable nail polish base coat on the nails to provide an extra stronger grip. Apply adequate layers of breathable nail polish coats to avoid peeling and chipping off. When the base coat has dried, apply the top coat of the breathable nail polish to give an extra gloss and protection. Cuticle oil can be paired with breathable nail polish to help moisturize the cuticle and nail overall.  For regular manicure and pedicure goers, breathable nail polish is ideal for people who can’t leave the house without some coloured nail polish. Having nail polish on for a very long time can be detrimental to one’s nails, so going for a breathable nail polish is recommended. Breathable nail polish starts at £1 GBP. 

Advantages of Breathable Nail Polish

Disadvantages of Breathable Nail Polish

Permeable with water prevents waterlogged nails.

Some brands have thicker and clumpy consistency formulas. 

Dries faster than regular nail polishes.

It May peel off more easily in comparison with regular nail polish. 

Fewer harsh chemicals than traditional enamel nail polish. 

Ideal for Muslim Women.

Breathable Nail Polish

5. Dip Powder

Dip Powder Nail Polish uses a powdered acrylic mixture to colour the nails by dipping or brushing them on. It is said that the Dip Powder technique isn't a new trend and has been done since the 80s. After the nails have been cleaned and dried, apply some bonder on the nails to allow the product to adhere to the nail surface. Before dipping the nails in the powder, make sure to polish the nails with a base coat. Wiggle off any excess Dip Powder and allow it to dry before dipping it again, to achieve desired colour strength. File the nails according to the desired shape, when all the nails have been completely set after five minutes. The topcoat for the Dip Powder nail polish is applied last to allow the polish to dry and solidify. Fake nail tips are best paired with dip powder nail polish, as this feels much lighter when applied than acrylic-based ones. Dip powder is recommended for people who do not have sensitive skin and are looking for nail polish that could last them for a month before reapplication. The average price for Dip Powder will range from £11 GBP. 

Advantages of Dip Powder Nail Polish

Disadvantages of Dip Powder Nail Polish

Can last until a month after application. 

Raised sanitation concerns at salons. 

Can either be done at home or at the salon. 

Its powder formula can be allergic by some people.

Ideal for shorter nails. 

Removing the polish is much more tedious than regular nail polish. 

More lightweight than regular acrylic and enamel nail polish. 

Can damage nails when not removed properly. 

Dip Powder Nail Polish

6. Gel


Gel Nail Polish is a gel-based formula of nail polish that produces a more durable finish that can last for weeks. The procedure for gel nail polish requires a UV light to help cure the nail gel formula to set firmly on the nails. Using the UV light technique sets gel nail polish apart from regular ones, which easily scratches and chips off after just days of application. Gel nail polish is applied on a clean set of fingernails starting with a gel base coat, thinly brushed on the nails. Cure the nails with base gel under UV light for at least thirty seconds. Next is to apply the coloured Gel polish thinly from all the edges and surfaces of the nail. Allow the gel polish coat to be cured on UV light for three minutes. Finish the Gel nail polish by covering the nails with a Gel topcoat, then curing it on UV light for 2 minutes. Cuticle oil can be used around the nails after the application of gel nail polish. Gel-based nail polish can be pricey and can retail for as much as £10, but would be better worth the money as it lasts longer than regular nail polish. The good thing about gel-based nail polish is its availability in most nail salons and can be conveniently done at home, using a LED light as an alternative to UV Lights. 

Advantages of Gel Nail Polish

Disadvantages of Gel Nail Polish

Last longer than regular nail polish.

Buffering might irritate some nail types.

The UV light allows it to dry quicker than usual. 

The use of acetone to remove gel polish might cause long-term harm to the nails, and cuticles. 

Gives out the most natural look.

Allows more creative freedom to work with colours and design, as it is simpler to apply. 

Gel Nail Polish

7. PolyGel

PolyGel is a mixture between regular acrylic and gel nail polish that enhances the nails in different colours and finishes. What used to be primarily exclusive among professional nail technicians, PolyGel nail polish can now be done at home by anyone through a pre-made formula. A PolyGel formula basically forms into a workable gel that can be moulded into the nails according to the desired design and shape. Just like Gel Nail Polish, PolyGel Polish is cured using UV light but feels lighter than gel-based formula. After the nails have been cleaned, filed and buffed, brush on the PolyGel mixture on the nails. Just like acrylic, PolyGel initially starts as a moist ball to be flattened and spread evenly on the nails with a brush moistened with a liquid solution. The nails should be cured under UV light for thirty seconds until it has dried. The nails are filed after, brushing off any knicks and grits around. A top coat can be applied over the PolyGel nail polish to allow a glossier look. PolyGel nail polish is known for its long-lasting effects, claimed to last up to three weeks from application. If one is looking into nail polish that can last them a while and is not heavy on chemicals, then PolyGel is an ideal choice. PolyGel nail polish price can be bought at £5 GBP. 

Advantages of PolyGel Nail Polish

Disadvantages of PolyGel Nail Polish

Durable and lasts longer than acrylic nail polish.

Cleaning would require soaking acetone, which is irritable to sensitive skins and nails. 

Feels lighter on the nails. 

Requires skills to apply. 

Has fewer chemical odours than regular nail polish. 

PolyGel Nail Polish

How to Choose Nail Polish according to Nail Type?

Square and round-shaped nail types are suited well with Basic and Breathable Nail Polish, as they generally require a shorter length so as not to taper around further. Basic and Breathable nail polish is ideal for shorter nails, as they are much more prone to chipping out when nails come in contact with objects. A classier oval-shaped or Coffin-shaped nails would look great on a longer set of nails that will require much more sturdy nail polish coatings such as gel or powder-based nail polish. Gel, Dip Powder, or PolyGel would extend the lifespan of long, polished fingernails. Ballerina nails look similar to coffin-shaped nails, only they have rounded edges. It is easier for ballerina nails to attach fake nail tips when they are painted with dip powder nail polish because they are lighter when attached.

What are the Best Types of Nail Polish Colours?

Periwinkle is a colour that is expected to become more popular during spring and what seems to be the colour of the year. With beautifully coloured clothing, periwinkle exudes confidence and calmness all at the same time. Burgundy coloured nail polish looks are best during wintertime, adding a much more dramatic look fitting for the gloomy weather. When viewed from a distance, Electric Blue coloured nail polish stands out and exudes so much energy. Any shade of pink nail polish brings out the fun side of the person wearing them. Pink in various shades and variations always conveys a sense of femininity and fun. A touch of multicoloured glitter rhinestones never hurt anyone, adding an accent to a more elaborate nail polish colour trend. 

What is the Longest Lasting Type of Nail Polish?

Dip Powder Nail Polish lasts the longest among the other nail polish When it comes to the formula, Dip Powder Nail Polish uses an ingredient called cyanoacrylate that acts as the glue that binds together attaching firmly to the nails. Dip Powder Nail Polish usually outlasts other pliable nail polish, such as gel-based nail polish, by as much as four or five weeks. An important factor in nail polish longevity is how well it adheres to the surface of the nails, and the Dip Powder Nail Polish does the best job at this.