Nail Lacquer, Long-Lasting Polish, Gel Polish: Do you know the difference?

Clients rely on you to explain these three completely different systems and to advise them on which one to select for their needs and lifestyle.

Clients are not nail technicians so they often mistake one system for another. As the professional, you should be familiar with every type of color application — its features, benefits, durability, and price point. Your expert consultation will help clients choose the service that’s best for them.

Nail Lacquer

Lacquer is another word for traditional nail polish. Consumers and nail technicians both have access to nail lacquer. OPI offers more than 200 lacquer shades to choose from.

Client profile

This client comes in for weekly nail services and likes to try new shades. She is willing to try the latest nail trends and collections.


The main ingredient in a typical nail polish formula is nitrocellulose. But there are many other ingredients, and formulations vary by company. Some of the common components are film-forming agents, resins, solvents, and colorants.

How to use: OPI Lacquer

This proprietary, long-lasting formula optimizes wear and shine, for results that last up to seven days when used following OPI’s Lacquer Application Protocol. A professional service consists of proper Natural Nail Prep, Base Coat, Lacquer, and Top Coat application.

Long-lasting Polish

Long-lasting polish gives a client an extended wear, but requires no lamps or curing. Many companies are coming out with long-lasting polishes that provide clients a hybrid of lacquer and gel.

Client profile

This client likes trying new shades, but can’t make it into the salon every week. She wants the benefits of a gel manicure, long-wear and high-shine, but doesn’t want the commitment of having gel polish on for several weeks.


Long-lasting polishes have key ingredients that create a longer-lasting formula after exposure to ambient light. Oligomers are short chains of monomers that react or “cure” when exposed to light to form tough, durable, shiny coatings. They are one of the main ingredients in UV/LED cured gels, giving some of its basic properties like shine and rigidity after curing. However, certain oligomers are now being added to nail polish, creating a new long-wear category. Another additive is photoinitiators, which absorb light and convert it into the energy needed to drive the polymerization process.

How to use: Infinite Shine

OPI’s brand of long-lasting polish is Infinite Shine. Infinite Shine is a three-step system that includes Primer, Lacquer, and Gloss. When applied as a system, Infinite Shine provides up to 10 days of wear and gel-like shine. 

Primer: Primes nails for a revolutionary grip on color and helps prevent staining.

Long-Wear Lacquer: Ultra-rich, vivid, professional nail color in over 90+ shaes, including OPI's most inconic nail lacquer shades. 

Gloss: A state-of-the art top coat that cures to a hard film in ambient light.  Features a hybrid formula ambient light photoinitiator and oligomers with film-forming polymers to provide long wear, durability and shine. Removes easily with regular nail lacquer remover.

Gel polish

Also called a chipless manicure, gel polish is applied just like a traditional polish, but is cured under a UV or LED lamp. The polish is dry immediately after curing and lasts for at least two weeks.

Client profile

Gel polish is also good for the client who doesn’t have the time or patience for her nails to dry.This client may not be able to get to the nail salon for another couple of weeks, so this manicure will have to last her for an extended period of time. It can be used on natural nails and over enhancements.


OPI’s GelColor uses a soft gel technology called GelFusion. This technology is a fusion of advanced gel polymer chemistry with high-speed LED technology. The polish stays intact on the nail for several weeks without cracking or chipping. The key ingredients include oligomers, photoinitiators, and colorants.

How to use: GelColor

The OPI GelColor system consists of GelColor Base Coat, GelColor polish, GelColor Top Coat, and OPI’s LED Lamp. When used as a system, OPI GelColor provides up to two weeks of chip-free color and shine-intense wear.

GelColor Base Coat: Acts like double-sided tape to prime nails for a firm grip on color. Also available in Strengthening and Ridge Filling formulas.

GelColor Polish: Ultra-rich, vivid, professional nail color in a wide selection of shades.

GelColor Top Coat: 100% pure gel formula. A state-of-the art top coat that seals the color and cures under an LED light.  

OPI’s LED Lamp: Each GelColor coat cures in 30 seconds under the 32 watt OPI LED Lamp. The high-speed cure is due to integrated 30-second co-initiators in all GelColor products, combined with the innovative technology of the OPI LED Lamp.

To learn more about OPI Products click here


Painful grooves in the nail from improper drill use or over-filing by hand.
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