Nail Guide - Finishes

I have wanted to do a post like this since 2010 but then I didn't have examples of everything I needed to show. However today is the day to show the current various finishes I own. Also since 2010 there have been a lot of new polish finishes created. Currently I have 33 different finishes, please comment if I have missed any out.

Crelly polishes are a hybrid of a glitter and a cream polish, usually indie polishes. Designed to be sheer on first coat but builds up in two to three coats to full opacity. I don't particularly like wearing glitters and so don't have many to share.

Laquerlicious - Burnt Marshmallow // Jacava - Oxford Street


A duochrome (and multichrome) nail polish is once which looks one colour but shifts to another when moved. Example being The First Avenger which is blue and shifts to purple. Across the Universe is a green, blue, purple shift.


Colour Changing - Reactive

The Barry M polish changes colour from a blue to a red when you apply a top coat.

Barry M - Chameleon Blue

Crackle / Shatter

This type of polish is one you apply over a dry base colour and it reacts to it, splits and breaks up in to a crackle or shattered design with a matte finish.


Croc Effect

Croc is very similar to shatter polish, this time creates more uniform shapes which are cream in finish whereas the crackle creates matte shapes.

Barry M - Croc Effect - Black // Barry M - Croc Effect - Burgundy

Cream / Cremé

Cream finishes are what you most often find, run of the mill, easy to find, plain simple full opaque polishes which come in every colour.



Flakies are chunks, or flakes suspended in a jelly or clear base. These flakes tend to be duochrome such as in the Orly polish or the tend to be pearlescent like in the Avon.

Avon - Opal Top Coat // Orly - Fowl Play


Along similar lines to metallic polishes, but with added extras such as glitter, glass flecks and shimmery bits.

Models Own - Gold Rush // Kleancolor - Metallic Fuchsia


These almost always have brush strokes visible, they tend to look a little bit metallic which always have a frosted glass type of look to them.

La Femme - Hot Pink 24 // La Femme - Passion

Glass Flecked

Glass flecked polishes are like a standard cremé polish with a great twist, the twist being they contain small glass pieces in the polish so that they sort of twinkle. Similar to a standard glitter but not as in your face or such a pain to remove

Barry M - Sparkling Ruby // Barry M - Sparkling Amethyst

Glitter - Flitter / Bar / String

This type of glitter is fine stands of bar glitter, usually in a clear base and can be of any colour.

Barry M - Bubblegum // Barry M - Licorice

Glitter - Hex

Hex shaped glitter are larger than standard glitters and are hexagonal in shape, they can come in both clear and tinted bases. Both of these are in clear bases.

Nails Inc - King's Way // Claire's - Dizzy

Glitter - Micro

Micro glitter is exactly as the name suggests, very small fine glitter shapes, smaller than the 'standard' glitter shown above. This glitter tends to be a topcoat in a clear base rather than a polish you would wear as is. This Jessica polish actually a holographic, but the shape of the pieces are micro sized.

Jessica - Holographic Top Coat Silver

Glitter - Multi

Multi glitter tends to be a glitter in a clear base but that isn't always the case. Multi glitters contain multiple shaped glitters, these examples have hex, string and standard glitter shapes.


Glitter - Shaped

Shaped glitter is usually glitter in shapes, the Kleancolor polish shows stars and the Tara Talon's shows hearts, diamonds and spades.

Kleancolor - Silver Start 31 // Tara's Talon's - Show Me Your Cards

Glitter - Standard

These are your typical fine glitters, they sometimes come in a clear base such as with the Magenta or they may come in a tinted suspension like Red Dazzle.

W7 - Red Dazzle // Models Own - Magenta

Glow in the Dark

These polishes glow in the dark as well as react to UV / black light.

Primark PS Love - Glow in the Dark

Jelly / Sheer

Sheer or jelly polishes are polishes which are far from opaque, they are used for a sheerer look or for creating a layered look. Such as with the second photo creating a black lace overlay.

W7 - Chocolate Pudding // Miss Sporty - Goth Me Up

Holographic - Linear

Small pieces holographic, shine a rainbow in direct light, inside they can look a little bit dull and not exciting but they really come to life in sunlight or direct light. The linear part is where the light creates a rainbow spreading outwards from the centre.


Holographic - Scattered

Again small pieces of holographic which do shine a rainbow in direct light however this is more dispersed over the whole nail rather than only down the middle.

A England - Let Me In // A England - St. George


Leather finish is again as it suggests one which looks like leather, less 3d than a full on texture, a little more than a glitter, but more smoother in finish and semi matte, slightly lumpy rather than gritty if that makes sense.

Claire's - Leather


LCD as a finish is relatively new as a polish finish. It is reactive to heat, using the same technology as a LCD TV or a 'mood ring'.

Born Pretty Store - LCD Thermal Sensitive Liquid


These polishes are filled with metallic flecks which once you hold a magnet over the top of the wet polish it pulls of the flecks leaving a design on the nails.



Matte polishes tend to be one colour which are not shiny, not glossy. You can get matte polishes, or top coats which go over any polish to make them matte.


Metallic / Chrome

The finish of these tend to be metal like, giving the effect of metal nails. These are common in typical metal colours, copper, bronze, gold and silver.

ELF - Copper // Barry M - Silver Foil Effect


Neon polishes are bright vivid neon colours, they have a tenancy to dry semi matte and need a couple of coats to be opaque. Sometimes using a white base helps the neon to really pop.

Color Club - Warhol // Color Club - Wham Pow

Pearl / Pearlescent / Lustre

Pearlescent polishes have a look of pearl to them, they tend to be lighter in colour and less opaque. These don't seem to be all that popular any more.

Leighton Denny - Moon Shine // La Femme - Lilac 22


Again as the same suggests these polishes change colour in direct sunlight.

Indoors | Direct Sunlight
Dystopia Nail Polish - Couldn't Miss This One This Year

Satin / Velvet

Satin is quite similar to matte but not quite. I like to think of satin halfway between cremé and matte but perhaps leaning more towards matte but not quite.

Barry M - Silk - Poppy // Barry M - Silk - Orchid


Shimmers are cream polishes with added bits, different to a glitter though. The shimmer tends to lean towards gold and silver but not always.

Sinful Colors - Hot Spot 943 // Leighton Denny - Chestnut Charm


Suede's are completely matte although they do have flecks within them which makes the different to matte polishes.

Avon ColourTrend - Blue Royale // Avon ColourTrend - Soft Violet


Textured polishes have a 3d quality to them, you can feel a sand like finish to them similar to glitter polishes but more intense.

OPI - Alcatraz... Rocks // Seventeen - Rock Hard Nail Effects - Blue


As the name suggests these polishes change colour when in varying temperatures.



These polishes are more elusive and I don't have one to share with you. Very similar to a jelly polish, but even less opaque.

Have I missed any polishes out?

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