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Nail polish finishes guide

Hello and welcome to a new post. I thought I should put together a nail polish finishes guide.

First, this is to ensure that I myself will continue to be consistent in describing the nail polishes that I review in the blog.

Second, it is because the guides I have seen online (via Google) don’t seem to have photos to give an example of every fish described. I believe that over the seven years that I have been blogging, I have come across all possible nail polish finishes, but we shall see!

Creme finish

Creme finish polish is the most common finish for nail polish. It is usually an opaque polish with no glitters or shimmer in it.

Cirque Colors Memento Mori and Carpe Diem are excellent examples of creme nail polish.*

Jelly finish

Jelly finish nail polish is always see through, but tinted enough to demonstrate colour on the nails. It kind of reminds me coloured glass and it is often described as squishy. Also, it can also be full of glitters (as seen below).

Barry M Pink Candy is a good example of a plain jelly polish.
Nail Laquer Isla is a great example of a jelly polish which is full of glitter.*

Crelly finish

Crelly finish, as the name indicates, is a nail polish which sits between being a creme and a jelly. It looks sheer, while milky. As a result, it just quite doesn’t have that ‘clear’ jelly finish.

Jessica Nails Bestie.*

Sheer finish

Polish with a sheer finish is, in my opinion, pretty much same as a crelly or a jelly, but a lot more ‘watered down’ leaving a lot of visible nail in the finish.

Essence Give Me Nude, Baby!*

Shimmer finish

Shimmer finish polishes are full of very small metallic or sparkly mica pigments which leave a shimmery finish. Another interesting fact to point out is that sometimes the shimmer is different colour from the polish.

Sally Hansen Cool it! Frost.
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Garnish Attention.*

Pearl finish

Pearl finish polish is very similar to shimmer finish polishes. It is recognisable by the shimmer which is more fine in size. Consequently, it often leaves quite noticeable streaks in the finish.

Models Own White Pearl.*

Glitter finish

Above all, glitter finish polishes contain glitters in their formulas. I would describe glitter as reflective particles that come in a variety of shapes and colours. Based on my experience, it seems like there are thousands of different glitters. Glitter polish base is usually either clear, a jelly or a crelly to allow glitter to shine through.

Barry M Starlet.
Jade Hypnose with H&M Blue Glitter.

Metallic finish

Metallic finish nail polish has a finish that resemble different metals eg gold, silver or bronze. Rather than calling the finish metallic, I often refer to metallic polishes as shimmer polishes. I personally think that the difference is almost too subtle to call them differently.

Primark PS Liquid Metal nail polish in Penny.

Foil finish

Foil finish nail polish is very similar to metallic nail polish, for the reason that it demonstrates a metallic look. in contrast, the finish of foil polish is very smooth. Consequently it reminds me of liquid metal if that makes sense.

Models Own Cerise. *

Glass fleck finish

Glass fleck finish describes a polish that has a lot of soft, but glass-like sparkling particles in it. In particular, these particles can be of any shade (but often tend to be golden/silver) and are almost always very small.

Gelish Oocha Coocha Bing Bang Bam Alakazy Alakazam!

Flakie finish

Flakie finish polishes tend to have some sort of flakes in the polish. They are always larger in size than glass fleck polish particles. As well as that, the flakes are soft in texture and vary from metallic or holographic to iridescent and due-chrome finish. Furthermore, they can be in a clear or coloured base.

Nfu Oh 58.

Matte finish

Matte finish leaves the polish, as the name indicates, matte after it dries. This finish can be achieved either using a polish that dries matte due to a special matte formula or it can be achieved using a matte top coat on top of any finish polish.

China Glaze Beak on Fleek!

Holographic finish

Holographic finish is achieved by a polish that contains pigments or glitters which create a rainbow effect when hit directly by sunlight (or an artificial light, but not all light sources bring out the rainbow effect). It should be noted that the holographic effect varies in look and vividness as there is a number of different holographic pigments and glitters.

Moyra 251.

Duo-chrome finish

Duo chrome nail polish change colour in different angles. In fact, sometimes this finish is called multi-chrome as more than two different colours can be evident.

Dance Legend Sulley.

Iridescent finish

Iridescent finish nail polish contains glitters that are clear/glassy, but show (usually more than one) colour in different angles.

BeautyBay It’s Snowing On Main Street.*

Textured finish

Textured nail polish contains tiny round plastic particles that leave an obviously textured finish on the nail after the polish is dry. The polish can come in a glitter and also in creme form.

Gosh Nail Lacquer Frosted Plum.

Crackle/shatter finish

Nail polish with crackle finish applies like a normal nail polish, but dries leaving noticeable a noticeable crackled look on the nail.

Layla Cosmetics Meringue Pie.

Thermal finish

Thermal polish changes colour when exposed to different temperatures.

Color Club Tie Die Oh My!

Solar finish

Solar finish nail polish changes colour when exposed to sunlight.

Ruby Wing Cinnamon Bun & Strawberry Shortcake.

Magnetic finish/cat eye nail polish

Magnetic finish nail polish contains small particles of magnets which can create a metallic pattern when exposed to a magnet while the nail polish is still wet.

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Whoa, that’s a whopping twenty, yes TWENTY, different finishes I have described here. It should be noted that when I started writing this nail polish finishes guide, I never expected to end up with so many different finishes. Moreover, I feel like I didn’t get all the finishes I’ve come across during the past seven years of being polish obsessed. Obviously, if you can think of any others or would want to suggest an edit – please don’t hesitate to contact me. I am planning to update this list to keep it up to date with all finishes.

*Please note some of the swatches in this nail polish finishes guide are previous Press Samples (provided for a review or swatch). Consequently these images have been marked with a *.

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