Picking a new hue is only half the battle when it comes to changing your nail color: you also have to decide what finish will complete your look best. Nail polish brands have been releasing different consistencies and textures for years, but without a thorough understanding of each finish you may not be pleased when you brush on a sultry crème instead of a subtle sheer. We’ve got the rundown on the most popular nail polish finishes and how to incorporate each one into your next manicure.
Crème: Your most common finish, a crème lacquer appears solid in the bottle, has a fairly thick consistency (making it a dream for application!) and dries opaque (usually even after the first coat). The finish is classic and bold, and leads a helpful hand when doing any form of nail art.
Sheer: Also called soft shades, these hues have a watery consistency that remains fairly transparent on the nail once dry. Mostly available in neutrals and light pinks, this go-to finish for many brides-to-be is feminine and professional (also ideal for those jobs that won’t let you show extra personality on your tips).
Metallic: Metallics usually come in gold, silver and copper, but there are variations in between. Close to frosts and chromes, metallics are edgy and rich. They balance crème manicures by offering a shining accent to your tips or ring finger. Consistency is opaque and requires only 2 coats.
Shimmer: Loaded with the tiniest of glitters, shimmers add the right amount of sparkle to an otherwise crème or sheer shade. There are some brilliant shimmers that glisten no matter the lighting and others that are most noticeable in sunlight. Appropriate for work or play, shimmers come in everything from beige to black to teal to pink.
Glitter: Glitters are every girl’s dream. Flashy, youthful or elegant, they exude confidence. Glitters range in size from small circular specks to large hexagram chunks–size can determine how easily the product will apply and what type of coverage you’ll get (the smaller the flecks the more even the application). Worn alone, they glisten uncontrollably and are the ultimate accessory. Worn on top of an existing manicure, they add dimension and endless opportunities thanks to the range of colors and sizes you can find.
Duochrome: The chameleon of nail polishes, duochromes complete two looks in one. The mica in these polishes complement the base shade of the lacquer, but stand out making your nail color appear a different hue when caught by the eye just right. You can identify this type of finish by rolling the bottle on its side. Pink at one angle and strong inflections of blue in another, you’ve got yourself a duochrome! Go with this lacquer if you really can’t pick just one shade.
Holographic: This finish might as well be a unicorn, because it is magical, elusive and heavily sought after. Using the roll-the-bottle technique, holographics are most noticeable by the rainbow look they give off. They are playful and distracting in the best way possible (seriously, you will not be able to stop looking at your nails). The mica in these polishes is almost iridescent, creating an oil spill effect worth showing off.
Matte: Matte lacquers have a smaller color offering, however thanks to products like essie Matte About You Matte Finisher, you can get this look with any polish. A matte shade is not identifiable just from looking at the bottle, but you’ll notice the finish by the quick drying time and satiny appearance. Polish on 2 coats for a dulled, but incredibly daring, manicure.
Jelly: Close in consistency to a sheer, the main different is that jellies tends to come in more vibrant hues. This finish is identifiable by its watery consistency that can be seen when tipping the bottle on its side. Meant to give your nails a super glossy, candy-like finish, it will be slightly translucent on the nail–meaning if your tips are longer you will definitely see the smile line. Give jellies a try this summer or polish one over your favorite glitter (we promise you’ll be happy with the result).
What’s your favorite nail polish finish?