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Layering nail polish
July 28, 2016, 11:03 am

You probably have the standard DIY manicure with one color down to memory, but dream of something a little extra — say a shimmer effect or a small detail — and you may think it is time to call in the pros. However, you don’t have to shell out cash for a unique manicure — and honestly, sometimes it's just way more fun to do it yourself anyway, right?

Enter layering nail polish. The act of applying two polishes may seem like the exact opposite of a secret but there is a lot more to it than that. For some pro tips on how to layer nail polish, look at these tips.

The low-down on layering: It is not hard to layer nail polish and it is probably one of the easiest ways to achieve next-level nails.  All it requires is basic nail painting skills and an experimental mindset.

To start, choose two or more colors that you like together, making sure at least one color has some translucency. If you want to use a more opaque color, put that on as the first coat and add sheer levels over that. From there, the options are infinite!

Now go through all the possible combinations of nail polishes you have knocking around in your cabinets to find the best combos; for example, a slightly sheer orange nail polish will do well over other neutrals, like beige.

The layer players: Your major players are going to be glitters, jellies (semi-translucent colors), and shifters (a sheer color with an iridescent effect). This is also a good excuse to bust out that polish you own that is hard to use because it is streaky or too sheer. Basically, any polish that isn't strictly opaque upon first swipe is game to be layered.

Mixology 101:  If you don’t want to buy a ton of nail polishes that will likely only be used for these Frankenstein nail looks, add an opaque color to a half-used bottle of topcoat to create your own jelly polish. Remember all those polishes you own whose formulas are too streaky or just past their prime.  All you need is any topcoat to create your jelly.

Non-basic bases: In case you were considering chucking all those “off” nudes however, there may be a purpose for them after all. You can layer white under neons to really make them pop, and this tip extends to nudes too, especially if you want to create an opaque canvas for color layering. Considering that colors in a bottle always look deeper than when you paint them on, having that nude or white around underneath may be your secret weapon to getting a shade you desire.

Take a cue from your lipstick: You can layer two colors to perfectly match anything, from your shoes to your makeup. Think about it like mixing lip colors: When you want your reds to be a bit warmer or cooler toned, layering one red over another can help you achieve a more dimensional effect. The same goes for nail polish. If you are trying to tweak colors this way, it is best to stick with a slightly sheer formula so both colors can co-mingle equally.

Texture: You can play with texture by using a matte topcoat on the entire nail, or just parts of it like a French manicure with just the tips left glossy.

This is also where glitter formulas come in handy, since you can layer them over or under other colors to mess with dimension. Using that matte topcoat in between layers helps with this too. It changes the whole spatial relationship between the glitter and the nail. First, make sure your base color is completely dry, then use tape to strategically apply a matte or glitter shade.


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