The Finish Line

As fashion designers experiment with different textures on the runway, nail polish manufacturers keep up with an array of stylish nail polish finish offerings — from the traditional cream to the edgy suede. One nail tech shares her expertise to help you sort through all of the jargon and match the appropriate client to the appropriate finish.

Finish:  Chrome/Foil

Description: This is a sunglasses-required, super-shiny finish that can be likened to the finish on a Harley Davidson exhaust pipe or a gold bangle. Deborah Lippmann offers Stardust, a platinum metallic. CND has three fab chromes in Gold, Copper, and Silver. Orly offers a three-shade Foil FX collection that really looks like shiny foil on the nail plate. Beyoncé helped popularize the chrome finish in her “Single Ladies” video. She wore Minx nail coatings in Golden Lightning. (Minx isn’t a polish, but the video is a great example of what a chrome finish looks like.)

Who’s That Girl? The chrome client loves attention, and her nails are just as important an accessory as her Louis Vuitton Courtney clutch or her Chanel fabric basket bag. Common occupations for chrome ladies include bartender, socialite, or a pop star. Also, your nail art clients will adore Minx’s patterned chrome finishes.

Finish:  Cream/Crème/Opaque

Description: Creams are a great option when you want to marbleize several colors together. The full-coverage is also great for French manicures. Be sure to use a protective base coat to avoid any nail bed staining. You can purchase a cream from your favorite polish manufacturer, as they all offer creams in a wide variety of shades. For a great orange, try Whack from Illamasqua (a U.K.- based cosmetics manufacturer) or for a bold yellow, try Bernadette Thompson’s La Bonita.

Who’s That Girl? These finishes are classics and work on everyone. Give your client “mannequin hands” by matching the color of her skin tone or feel free to use a deep color or a super bright one. Creams and opaques are especially great for clients who may suffer from darkened nail plates, as they provide full-coverage.


Finish:  Frost/Shimmer 

Description:  Shimmers are reflective and, depending on the lighting, can appear opalescent showing mostly cool tones. When envisioning a frost, imagine a mirror with a gush of warm breath. (You can still see the color but it’s slightly muted, giving it the frosty effect.) When you check with most color lines, you’ll notice every cream has a complementary shimmer or frost. Barielle has a silvery shimmer called Out Greygeous or, for a frosty red, try Sparitual’s Stiletto.

Who’s That Girl? Shimmers and frosts are more classic finishes that will work for all of your clients. A shimmer or frost is a glammed up version of your cream or opaque polish. If a creamy color is too much for a client, then point her toward its shimmery or frosty colored cousin. As a former shimmer girl, I can tell you most shimmer clients are one polish change away from becoming full-blown sparklers.

Finish:  Glitter/Sparkle

Description:  Bring on the bling! Many sparkle finishes have glitter, though the particles tend to be smaller than those in all-out glitter polishes. I find that these finishes tend to dry faster and are more resilient (get fewer chips) than other finishes. But the downside is glitter polishes may be tough to remove. Check out the Sparkle Collection by Zoya or Deborah Lippmann's glittery Across the Universe (which was used at Fall 2010 New York Fashion Week in the Lela Rose show).

Who’s That Girl? The sparkle and glitter girl is a show-off but not in the naughty sense. This client is your advertisement, so make sure her polish job is fabulous! You can nudge the shy girl client into trying glitter and sparkles on her toes. I’ll bet that before the polish dries, she’ll want it on her fingers!

Facebook Comments ()

Leave a Comment


Comments (0)

Featured Products & Promotions   |   Advertisement

Market Research

Market Research How big is the U.S. nail business? $7.3 billion. What's the average service price for a manicure? Dig into our decades' deep research archives.

Industry Statistics for

View All


FREE Subscription

VietSalon is a Vietnamese-language magazine and the sister publication to NAILS. Click the link below to sign up for a FREE one-year subscription.

Get a free preview issue and a Free Gift
Subscribe Today!

Please sign in or register to .    Close
Subscribe Today
Subscribe Today