As a stylish fashionista, your nails are one of the most important components of your look. And luckily, there are a lot of polish and finish types to choose from. Knowing the different options will empower you to make the most of your gorgeous appearance. Once you’re familiar with these options, you can experiment until you find the look you’re going for.
To help you out, we created a list of 23 types of nail polish and finishes. You’ll be in tip-top shape in no time. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Nail Polish Types
1. Base Coat
A base coat nail polish is specially designed to serve as the first layer of nail polish on your nails. This helps prolong the life of your manicure and simultaneously protect your nails from damaging effects of nail polish.
If you don’t want your fresh nail polish to chip, the base coat is essential. The base coat also gives your nail polish a smooth appearance, ridding your nails of a ripple-effect.
Maxus Base Coat
2. Top Coat
A top coat polish is designed to be the last layer painted onto your fresh manicure. The top coat polish seals the polish, decreasing the possibility of nail chipping and adding a smooth glossy finish. A top coat should always be applied to your nails for optimal protection and longevity of the nail color. Think of the top coat as a piece of armor for your nails.
OPI Top Coat
Gel nail polish is an increasingly popular nail polish formula. It is painted onto the nail in the same way as other polish, but it’s easier to apply and it won’t leave brush strokes. Gel nail polish does require a curing process under an LED lamp for 15 to 60 seconds between coats. This sets the gel into a solid state. After a process of coating then curing, the manicure is complete. Finish with a top coat to seal it.
Joytii Gel Nail Polish (23 Pieces)
Essie Princess Charming Gel Polish
4. Growth Enhancing
Growth enhancing nail polish helps your nails grow stronger, healthier, and quicker. There are many nail polish products available that are easily brushed onto your nails to help enhance their growth. The polishes are rich in natural nutrients. It can be applied as a sole treatment or in conjunction with other polishes.
Ellie Chase Nail Polish Treatment
Long-lasting nail polishes will last you at least 7 days of wear with little to no chipping. These polishes have been made with special formulas that are meant to extend the life of your nail polish. Easy application, sticking power, and a vast range of shades make this type of polish well-loved.
CND Vinylux Polish
OPI White Nail Laquer
6. Quick Drying
Quick-drying nail polish is designed, as the name suggests, to dry quickly. This is key to a perfectly kept nail color with no smudges or nicks. The formulas use quick-drying silicones that protect the film of the nail polish from smudging while it dries. There are many colors available in quick-drying formulas.
Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Polish (Set Of 7)
7. All In One Polish
An all in one polish is a multipurpose formula that serves as a base coat, top coat, and nail strengthener. There’s no need to buy multiple bottles when there’s this one available. Nail care becomes a rather straight forward process with an all in one polish.
Essie All-In-One Polish
Sally Hansen Complete Care Nail Treatment
Nail Polish Finishes
A chrome nail polish finish is a metallic, high-polish style. It even has reflective qualities to it. The chrome finish comes in a large variety of color options as well. The chrome finish is best applied with a powder coat rather than a brush-on polish. You’ll start with a base color before adding the powder to it.
Chrome Nail Powder
Nails with a pearl finish have a soft, elegant, classy finish. This type of finish is typically transparent, giving the base coat color the perfect pearl finish. While the color may be faint, it’s certainly a gorgeous nail finish. No matter what style of outfit you have on, a pearly manicure will complement it perfectly.
Born Pretty Pearl Nail Polish
Glittery nail polishes are fun and flirty. Whether it’s large flecks or small ones, glitter polish plays with the light. There are glitter flecks wIt can be like a disco ball for your fingernails, and who doesn’t want that kind of party? A top coat is essential for giving it a smooth finish. This type of finish may prove a little more difficult to remove.
Essie Glitter Nail Polish
Butter Glitter Nail Polish
Matte nail polish is very distinct, giving your nails a wonderful no-shine finish. If shine isn’t your thing, a matte nail finish may be in your future. It’s completely dull with no gloss to it. Even without a shimmer, matte finishes offer a gorgeous depth to your manicure.
Beetles Pastel Matte Nail Polish
Beetles Winter Green Gel Nail Polish
A shimmer nail polish finish contains teeny tiny pieces of glitter. Shimmer nail polishes have a playful effect when light hits them and makes it extra sparkly. This type of nail has a lot of dimension to it. All types of nail polish colors are made with a shimmery finish.
OPI Shimmer Nail Polish
Sally Hansen Shhhh-immer Nail Polish
Microshimmer has even tinier flecks of glitter in the polish. This type of finish glows brighter than any other type. The tiny glitter flecks are super shimmery in the light.
China Glaze Nail Polish
A frost finish is one that has a shimmery finish with visible brush marks in it. Before you coat your nails in a frost finish, ensure you’re okay with seeing the brushstrokes. This type of finish is icy as you’d expect from the name. The icy finish doesn’t contain individual pieces of glitter in it, but it does subtly sparkle.
Revlon Nail Polish
A lustrous nail polish finish has a gentle sheen to it. A lustrous nail polish finish can even look a bit holographic when it’s applied.
Ella + Mia Luster Polish
Iridescent nail polish finishes appear as if they reflect a different color when the light hits it. This type of finish certainly isn’t ordinary.
ILNP Moonstone Iridescent Topper
Opalescent nail polish finishes have a distinct “mother of pearl” shimmer to them. Your nails will glisten just like the inside of a shell. So if you love the beach and its effects, you should give this nail finish a shot.
ZOYA Opalescent Nail Polish
Translucent nail polish finishes are, like the name suggests, translucent. This type of finish can even look watery or jelly-like. Multiple layers can make the polish more opaque.
Ella + Mia Translucent Nail Polish
A magnetic nail finish is one of the newest trends in manicures. Once the special nail polish has been applied, you use a small magnet to create designs in the nail polish. The magnet reacts with tiny particles in the nail polish to make this possible. It’s a true galaxy of colorful intrigue.
Galaxy Magnetic Gel Nail Polish
Cat Eye Magnetic Nail Polish
A crackled nail polish finish is a super texture-rich finish that gives your nails a crackled-looking finish. Apply your favorite base color first. Then all you have to do is brush on a thin layer then watch it crackle right before your eyes.
Sally Hansen Foil Crackle Overcoat
Roaslind Crackle Gel Nail Polish
14. Glass Flecked
Glass fleck nail polish finishes appear as if small flecks of glass are in the formula. The result is a smooth and sparkly finish.
China Glaze Glass Flecked Polish
The holographic nail polish finish is light reflective and iridescent. It’s perfect for an extraterrestrial coating. Light will play with this coating like no other. Spectraflair is the active component that creates the multi-layer color effect.
ILNP Ultra Holographic Nail Polish
Miss Cheering Holographic Nail Polish
16. Prismatic Shimmer
A nail polish with a prismatic shimmer to it has a super shimmer to it in addition to slightly holographic particles. Whether it’s a day at the office or a night on the town, your nails are ready to have a good time. I will reflect light just like a prism does.
Kleancolor Prismatic Shimmer
We hope this guide has helped you better understand the different types of nail polish and finishes. Before you go, be sure to take a look at these other style guides: