24 Types of Nail Polish Finishes to Try

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Painting and beautifying your fingernails and toenails can be a lot of fun, especially because there are just so many types of nail polish to choose from and try.

Sometimes, too many options can make it more difficult to choose. To give you a little help in your quest to have the most beautiful looking digits, here’s a handy guide to the various kinds of nail polish finishes.

1. Crème or Cream

This is probably the most common type you’ll see people using. It is usually in a white-based, solid, opaque colour and comes in all sorts of shades. If you want a simple look and no-frills application process, crème is the perfect choice.

2. Sheer

french manicure and a hairpin

When you want to don a French mani-pedi, or want glossy nails without covering them up in any sort of tints, this is the finish to choose. This usually goes in nudes, pinks, or ‘invisible’ varieties.

3. Jelly

The best way to describe this nail paint is it generally gives just a wash of colour because it is clear-based. Expect a squishy looking shine on a jelly base, something like a ‘wetter’ version of a creamy finish. It’s great for shiny and colourful nails, but you usually have to put on about three to four coats to completely cover your nails.

4. Textured

Has a 3D quality to it, and usually contains lots of sparkle that catches light. Textured nail polish dries up really fast and produces a grainy finish.

5. Matte

This can give you very chic-looking manicures but can be a bit challenging to get a uniform result since it dries up quickly. It is free of shine, but you can put on a layer of gloss for shinier nails.

6. Holographic

Fashionistas can’t get enough of holographic nail polish ever since it became a trend. It contains glitters that create a beautiful rainbow effect when hit directly by a light or the sun. The holo effect varies in scatter and strength and are usually classified as subtle or scattered, linear, multichrome, duochrome, and scattered linear.

7. Metallic

Gives you a smooth and shiny metal-like finish. You can find copper, gold, bronze, and silver finishes.

hand with long artificial manicured nails holding bracelets

8. Glitter

As the name depicts, it contains cosmetic glitters. It can have a clear base or a tinted suspension. The sparkles tend to settle over time so make sure to shake or roll the bottle between both hands before using. To get the best results, apply a thick coat or top with gloss. Take note, it can be challenging to remove the glitters.

9. Duochrome

It changes colour depending on the light reflection. For example, your polish can look red, but when sunlight hits it it looks purple.

10. Pearl

Tends to come in lighter shades and gives your digits a pearlescent look.

11. Foil

They are similar to metallic polishes but result to a smooth aluminium foil effect.

12. Shimmer

It’s like a crème base that contains a lot of tiny glitters and tends to lean towards gold and silver tints (not all the time though).

13. Suede

If you want shimmery but not shiny fingernails, then go for this variety. The finish is matte, so even if it contains shimmer it won’t shine.

14. Flakes/Flakies

Irregularly shaped glittery flakes that are suspended in a clear or jelly base. The flakes have a duochrome or pearlescent effect. It has a light base so some like to mix this with different types of nail polish.

15. Glass flecked

An alternative to glitter or flakes, this one contains small glass pieces. It has a crème base and doesn’t give a too distracting shine. Plus, it can be easier to remove.

green brown manicure

16. Neon

If you like painting your digits in colours that pop, then neons are your thing. They may look like creamy polishes, but they actually give more of a matte look when they dry.

17. Satin

Similar to matte polish but it tends to be a little shinier. It’s like a mixture of crème and matte.

18. Iridescent

It’s like duochrome, but the change of colour usually isn’t clear. You tend to see a base colour (in a lighter shade) in the middle of your nail.

19. Water

Closely similar to jelly but leans more towards the sheer side.

20. Frost

This looks like metallic varieties but has more of a frosted glass appearance. It gives you a nice shimmer finish with visible brush marks.

21. Crackle/Shatter

When you apply this over a dry base, the reaction creates a shatter or crackle effect. You end up with a matte look that has a shattered design.

22. Croc Effect

Similar to crackle but produces more uniform shapes with a creamy finish.

23. Glow in the Dark

Polish that glows in the dark and reacts to UV or blacklight. How cool is that?

24. Thermal

It changes colour depending on the temperature, so it would be fun to wear this if get to enjoy varying temps throughout the day.

Now that you know all these kinds of finishes, it’s time to get busy. Check out our fantastic collection of unique FNUG nail polishes and make those fingernails and toenails all pretty and colourful.