Different Types of Nail Polish Finishes


Are you into glittery nails? Or do you prefer more matte?
Whether you are planning a gorgeous look or simple French tips, nails can tell a lot about a person. You may find that there is more than one type of nail polish.

Nail polish can be shiny, glittering or matte, which is how many people characterize different finishes. But there are many more. In this article; I will discuss different finishes that you may encounter with nail polish. To describe the coverage we use the words sheer (transparent) and opaque (opaque) here the famous finishes!

Different Nail Polish finishes

You must be familiar with traditional formulas that you may have used since you were little. Some of them have a chrome finish, while others are textured.

Sometimes it can get confusing to choose. Ever since nail brands have decided to step up their texture game, they’ve launched hundreds of finishes to choose from a wide range!

But fear not! This guide will help you choose your preferences amid an array of nail polishes.

Creme Nail Polish
Creme Nail Polish


This has to be the most well-known finish. Creme Polish has no special additives. The glitter and shimmer loos but not boring, they are smooth and shiny and often cover all in one layer.

Creme nail polish has a glossy opaque finish. It is available almost everywhere and used in every nail art. Crème is the perfect look for simple go-to solid colour.  They are suitable for every occasion, from work to small gatherings, you can efficiently get the plain professional look at home.

Jelly Nail polish
Jelly Nail polish


The jelly finish is the ‘wet’ version of the creamy finish. Jelly nail polish is extremely shiny and really looks like pudding. The paint is usually sheer and covers only then completely after three or four layers.

Shimmer Nail polish
Shimmer Nail polish


Shimmer Polish is actually tiny glitter. Glitter slightly more ‘to’ nail polish, shimmer there is ‘in’.

It contains tiny specs of glitter tinted in gold or silver pigment. It is the perfect summer vibe for anyone who does not want a large amount of glitter on their nails.  Shimmery nails give off a sparkly playful tone and prevent any chipped ends. It is well worth the extra time it takes to clean it off.

Flecked Glass Nail polish
Flecked Glass Nail polish

Flecked Glass:

Glass flecked glitter polishes contain which look like pieces of glass, a kind of cross between flecked and glitter. They are very funky.

This type of nail varnish contains pieces of glass microbes suspended in either ordinary nail polish or jelly base. It is distinctive and has a smooth texture apart from shimmery and glittery looks. Additionally, it is easier to remove than other shimmery nail paints.

Neon Nail polish
Neon Nail polish


Neon Polish with a neon colour often has its own finish. This is semi-matt, similar to a satin finish. A vibrant neon nail colour never goes out of style.

They are mainly composed of bright summery colours with a smooth finish. It is a perfect look for outdoor excursions and pool parties! These intense polishes have a thick and creamy formula that gives off a slightly matte appearance.

Frost Nail polish
Frost Nail polish


A frost finish is a very nice shimmer finish with visible brush marks. So you see thin lines running in your nail polish.

As the name suggests, it will give you a frosted finish. The frost nail varnish is popular due to its ability to leave brush strokes behind with a subtle shimmer instead of individual particles of glitter.

Pearl Nail polish
Pearl Nail polish


The finish of pearl nail polishes is equal to that of frost polishes but with a pearly glance.

Many people consider pearl as the classic genre of nail polishes. It was an admirable statement look in the 90s. Off-white shell, light pink, and pearl white colours give off a unique sheen consisting of soft reflective particles. Perfect for a faint, glamorous look for a wedding day.

Metallic Nail polish
Metallic Nail polish


Metallic nail polish has the appearance of metal. With shimmer but not extremely polished.

If you crave a shiny finish for your nails, then metallic nail polishes are the best for you. It does not have any visible glittery specs but rather a reflective lustre in its light texture.  There are different looks that you can select, like bronze, copper, silver, or gold. This trendy set of nails are perfect for a night out.

Foil Nail polish
Foil Nail polish


Foil polishes are actually metallic polishes added with tiny glitter, but they feel very smooth. They shine over metallic nail polishes.

Foil nail polishes are a versatile range of mixes and matches. It is a combination of metallic and a duo chrome finish. The reason it is called foil is that it gives off a look similar to aluminium foil. They are very shiny and reflective, perfect for a unique pop of colour.

Glitter Nail polish
Glitter Nail polish


This speaks for itself: nail polish with glitter. The glitters you feel often sit so a layer of topcoat is needed to smooth the surface. Glitter Nail Polish is difficult to remove.

It shares similarities with shimmer nail paints. A glitter nail polish has an array of sparkles suspended in clear gloss polish. Although they might be difficult to remove, they provide you with that extra “shine” in your everyday manicure.

Shaped Glitter Nail polish
Shaped Glitter Nail polish

Shaped Glitter:

In nail polish with glitter finish shape is small figures of a sort of aluminium foil. This type of nail polish is usually transparent.

It can be considered a type of glitter nail polish with shaped particles available in diverse options and patterns. You can choose among various shapes, including hearts, squares, rectangles, circles, and stars. When using this nail paint, a topcoat is crucial to lock the glitter in place.

Matte Nail polish
Matte Nail polish


Matte nail polish is completely dull, without gloss. Matte nail polish dries very quickly and this makes it difficult to uniformly apply matte polishes.

It is the most popular nail varnishes amongst people who appreciate a simplistic yet bold look. Its signature feature is that it is devoid of any shine or gloss. They come in all sorts of colours, though skin-coloured shades are highly in demand.

Satin Nail polish
Satin Nail polish


A satin finish looks like a matte finish but is just a little shinier.

It is a perfect combo of glossy and matte in one look. These types of nails look good all year. They are distinctly editorial in texture for a smooth modern look. Perfect for a professional setting, you can wear this type of finish to the office.

Suede Nail Polish
Suede Nail Polish


Nail polish with a suede finish contains shimmer, but the finish is matte, which creates a special effect because the shimmer does not shine.

When matte meets shimmer, you get suede! These nail paints tend to have a smooth, solid texture with a bit of shine. Perfect if you’re aiming for the “not too shiny” look.

Holographic Nail polish
Holographic Nail polish


Holographic polishes contain glitter with rainbow colours, which change colour by light reflection.

The prominent feature about Holo nail polishes is that they are much easier to remove, unlike its other glitter counterparts. In addition, it creates a distinctive rainbow effect when exposed to sunlight—a perfect look for people who thrive on having spellbinding star clusters on their nails.

Duochrome Nail polish
Duochrome Nail polish


This nail polish is bicolour, depending on light reflection you see one or two colours.

Perhaps you are looking for a nail polish that will add more depth and dimension to your nail shape. Thanks to its diverse range of vibrant shades, Duochrome nail polish is your best pick! In addition, it alternates between two different shades of pigment under different positions and lighting.

Flakies Nail Polish
Flakies Nail Polish


Flakies are flat flaky particles. These particles reflect light and are often duo chrome. Polishes with a flakies finish are often used on other polishes because they usually have a light base.

Iridescent Nail Polish
Iridescent Nail Polish


Iridescent polishes resemble duo-chrome polishes, but the difference is that the transition between the two colours is not clear. You see a base colour with it (often in the middle of your nail) a lighter colour.

Sheer Nail Polish
Sheer Nail Polish


Sheer polish deliberately incomplete coverage, so you can continue to see the white lines at the top of your nail. (Think of French manicure)!

Sheer nail polishes are a beautiful opaque finishing that usually comes in lighter tones of nude or pink shades. Unfortunately, this transparent varnish would require you to do multiple coats for it to be visible. However, if you love French-painted nails, then this finish would be perfect for you!

Water Nail Polish
Water Nail Polish


A water finish looks like jelly but is slightly sheerer.


Chrome is best known for its shiny finish. It is brighter than metallic nail paints, and you’ll get a sleek finish. An ethereal quality paired with an iridescent look is the perfect description for a chromatic manicure.

Colour Changing

These nail paints commonly refer to as “mood-changing” nail polishes. This is because they change into various shades depending on your body’s temperature or the temperature of your environment. In addition, the most popular type of colour-changing nail paint transforms underwater.


They are gritty and grainy to touch, but their most unique trait lies in their vibrancy. Not only will it give you a 3-dimensional quality finish (without any added effort), but it is also suitable for a refreshing evening dinner.


When you apply this lacquer, it will result in a shattered/crackled finish. However, with a rich texture, it gives your nails an out-of-the-box look.

Croc Effect

Croc effect shares similarities with crackled finish nail paint. This type of nail polish will give you a uniform croc style pattern. They are prevalent among social media influencers.

Glow in the Dark

These stunning nail varnishes will allow your manicure to be seen even in the dark! These polishes store energy from UV Lights and release them when it is dark. Perfect for a spooky Halloween-themed party!


A type of nail polish that shows changing luminous shades of pigments under specific light reflections. With a shiny, glossy, and vibrant finish, they look similar to shattered glass. Just like the stone, opalescent nail paints give off an iridescent pop of colour.


Magnetic polishes give off a textured effect by using metallic particles which activate different patterns with the help of a magnet. When you place a magnetic piece near your wet nail polish, you will observe the moving particles within the nail varnish.

To learn more about different types of nail colours based on texture and finishing, continue reading below.


Types of Nail Polishes

Colour psychology describes how the nail polish you choose makes your first impression. Therefore, it is critical to know all types of nail polishes that suit your personality.

Nail paint Assortments

Have you ever felt stumped when someone mentions “Acrylic” or “Shellac”?

Don’t worry! These terms aren’t as intimidating as they sound. So consider this guide as your rescue. Learn about each nail polish, and get acquainted with the world of manicure lingo!

1.     GEL

Gel nail polish is the trendiest lacquer formula applied to your nails and then cured under an LED/UV lamp around 15-60 seconds. This popular nail polish does not leave brush strokes nor easily chips. What makes gel so distinctive is that it gives the best of both worlds. It comes in all colours and is long-lasting for up to 40 days!

2.     ACRYLIC

Acrylic nails are a mixture of powder and liquid that hardens over your natural nail to form a strong layer of varnish. They are very durable and can last around two weeks without breaking or chipping. In addition, through filing, they can turn into various styles of nail shapes!

3.     POLY GEL

Polygel is a technological breakthrough in the world of manicures. It is a nail enhancement formula. It allows you to sculpt a set of nails or double it as an overlay. The excellent feature about poly gel nail sets is that it is very light but sturdy at the same time.


As the name suggests, breathable nail paint allows air and water to pass through the nail polish layer. It helps keep nails healthy and is a perfect solution for people who want a toxin-free manicure.


Are you tired of your nails chipping away so quickly? The dip powder style involves dipping your nail (covered in base coat) in a tub of coloured powder/dust.

The result is low-maintenance nails that will last you the whole month!

6.     SHELLAC

Shellac nails are similar to gel nails but contain crème varnish in a particular proportion for a creamier texture. These are prone to scratches and marks but maintain the moisture level of your nails.

7.     PEEL OFF

These nail polishes have a peel-off property that is possible due to their blend of water or glue mixed in with pigmentations. It is immaculate for people who have allergies related to chemicals and strong odours. Moreover, they are easy to remove plus, you don’t need any overpowering acetone!


Any clear coat polish used before you apply any pigmented colour is known as a base coat. It usually helps extend 10-12 days of durability to your nail look and prevents your natural oils from fading your nail polish.

9.     TOPCOAT

A topcoat is a finishing touch to your manicure. It can give you a lustrous/glossy or even matt finish while simultaneously preventing any chances of chipping.


Growth stimulating nail varnish helps encourage healthy nail growth. Furthermore, it consists of different nutrients and vitamins that positively react with your nail oils and chemical structure. As a result, this gives you sturdier, shinier nails.


With so many new brands debuting their nail paint formulas in the market, you can finally define your style identity through this guide. Each finish will impact your occasion and give you awe-inducing results. After all, even exceptional nail paints can make heads turn. So whether it be neon or Holographic, Matte or Frost, you can certainly pull of every shade and texture when you have the know-how!

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