Nail polish has come a long way over the years. The colours have gone from reds, pinks and corals to every colour you can imagine and so many types you didn’t even think of. You may be surprised by some of the styles of nail polish that are available at stores and online for you to purchase today. If you are looking to buy new nail polish and aren’t sure of the quality, it is best to look for reviews and swatches online to see how the polishes look and work for other people that have already tried them. Be sure to check out more than one source of swatches for a good overall picture of the product. With all the nail polish designs available today, the nail art possibilities seem almost endless.

If you wish to learn how to apply nail polish on your natural nails, then follow the video tutorial provided here:

How to Paint Your Nails

For more information and great nail painting tips in general please check out this second video:

Nail Painting Professional Tips

Items you will need to paint your nails:

  • Base Coat
  • Nail Polish
  • Top Coat
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Cotton Balls (Q-tips, orange stick, Klenex or angled brush)

Base coat is needed to help prevent your polish from chipping and to protect your natural nails from getting stained from the polish. Apply one coat of base coat to cover all of your nail before applying the polish. You will need anywhere from one to three coats for your nail polish designs depending on the finish of your polish and to make sure there are no streaks. Keep your coats of nail polish thin rather than thick for better control and so the polish will dry quicker between layers. Once you have applied all your coats of polish, wait for it to dry fairly well before adding the top coat. Top coat is needed to protect your polish from chipping and adds a gorgeous finish to your polish. Use nail polish remover and your favourite applicator such as an angled brush to remove any polish that may have strayed off of your nail and onto your skin. Once you have learned these basic steps of how to apply nail polish, you can begin to experiment with designs of nail art.

To remove nail polish, never pick at your polish or peel or scrape it off of your fingernails, as this will damage your natural nail. Use a nail polish remover that works best for you. Some people prefer pure acetone, others like remover with acetone and some use non-acetone nail polish removers, so find what works best for you and your nails.

Check out the Different types of Nail Polish designs

1. Magnetic Polish


Nail polish designs can be created using magnetic polishes. You can get a variety of colours and styles of this type of polish. The magnets come in a variety of designs to give you different finishes to your manicure. After you paint your nails with this special nail polish you hold the magnet, usually provided in the lid of the polish bottle, over your painted nail and the design will start to reveal itself.


You can find nail polish magnets sold separately to use with your magnetic polish if you wish to create different patterns than the one that came with your bottle of polish. Look online for the brands that carry this type of polish and find the designs and colours you like best or want to try.

2. Crackle/Shatter Polish


Another of the nail polish designs includes the shattered polish or what is commonly referred to as crackle. This type of nail polish has many different names depending on the trademark of the nail polish company. Crackle polish is applied over top of your regular nail polish colour. It is best to use a contrasting or very different colour of regular polish under the crackle polish so that it will stand out more. Try using a lighter colour versus a darker colour or opposite colours such as red and green. If the colours are too similar it will be difficult to notice the shatter effect.


This nail art design, by Margriet Sijperda from 365+ Days of Nail Art, of a dragon has been created using crackle nail polish. She has used a dark blue polish under the gold crackle polish so the shatter effect shows up well. She has also painted a dragon eye onto one nail for a fun theme to her nails. Designs of nails art can be made and inspired by the different types of nail polishes that are available today.

3. Textured Nail Polishes


Textured polishes come in a variety of types and colours. The style of textured polish shown in the photo above comes under a number of names, some of which are sand or sugar coated. This polish leaves a bumpy or textured look and feeling to your nails. This style of nail polish can be used in a variety of ways for an assortment of nail art depending on the colours you use. Many people use brown or tan coloured textured polish to create sandy beach nails for instance. Try looking these up online for some great pictures and inspiration to do your own nails.


Here we have a mixture of different coloured textured polishes used in a variety of patterns on top of varied coloured nails in this picture above. This is just a sample of nail polish designs you can create using textured polish. It is also a good example of the surface bumpiness of the textured polish compared to regular creme polish.


Another type of textured polish is the feathered or fuzzy finish. This style of polish is typically in a clear base with coloured flecks in it. You can apply this over any colour of polish that you wish or just apply it as your polish over your natural nail colour. For the best results try not to use a colour of nail polish underneath that matches any of the colours of the flecks in this type of polish as it will drown out the matching flecks.

4. Changing Effects Polishes


A really fun nail polish to use is the glow-in-the-dark varieties available. These are great for a surprising night out or at a dance where the lights are low. Your nails will make a big splash at any night time event if they glow-in-the-dark! Quite often this type of polish can be rather sheer, so you may wish to put a similar colour of polish underneath to bring out the colour. This type of polish comes in just about every colour, so pick out your favourites. During the day your polish will look normal, unless you enter a dark room. No one would know it was glow-in-the-dark until the lights go out!


What better night to wear glow-in-the-dark nail polish, than on Halloween of course! You could do a nail paint design of glowing jack-o-lanterns or any spooky scene you want and highlight it with glow-in-the-dark polish.


Another fun changing effect nail polish is the thermal polishes. The colour of the polish changes with the temperature. You can run your fingernails under water to see the changes right away. Some of these polishes change when exposed to sunlight, also. These types of polish are almost like wearing a mood ring and are amusing to wear. You will find yourself looking at your nails a lot more to see what changes are taking place.

5. Neon Polish


Neon nail polishes are a great selection of colours to use and are certainly eye catching. This polish is especially suited for summer or anytime you need cheering up. You can create a number of nail polish designs using these fantastic colours. To have neon polish colours stand out the best, put at least one layer of white polish under them. Using the white polish creates a perfect platform for these colours to shine over, rather than your natural nail colour which can muddy the effect of the neon. Make sure the white polish has enough coats so that it is no longer streaky looking and be sure it dries completely before applying the neon coats of polish.

Neon Nail Polish-Designs

The photo above has used the neon polishes combined in a great abstract design with a little black and white polish to help separate and emphasize the neon brightness. Try creating your own nail art design using these flashy colours.

6. Matte Finish Polish


Matte polishes dry with a flat, dull finish rather than a shiny one. You can purchase nail polishes that already come with a matte finish or you can get top coat that will give your regular polish this look. If you use matte polish you will not be able to use regular top coat over it, as this will add shine to your nails. You can always add this type of top coat if you wish for your polish to look shiny. Try using a matte top coat over your matte polish to keep the style you want. If you cannot get matte top coat, then you may have to go without a top coat, but keep in mind that your polish may chip faster.


Your nail paint design can look fabulous with matte polishes or try combining them with regular, glossy polishes for a mixed look. Search online for inspirational images of nail art that uses matte polish for wonderful ideas on how to do your own nail art.

7. Jellies


Jelly nail polish is also known as sheer polish. These polishes go on very thinly and almost see through. You will need multiple coats applied to bring out the colour of this style of polish. They are great polishes to wear to work if you want just a hint of colour to your nails, but nothing too showy.


Jelly polishes are perfect for layering your nail art look. The photo above shows a perfect example of what is called a Jelly Sandwich in the nail art world. This style of nail art uses many layers of the sheer polish combined with the artwork to give multi-coloured designs. To re-create this look, follow the step by step guide below.

Step by Step Flower Jelly Sandwich Nail Art

  1. Apply base coat over all your nails and allow it to dry thoroughly.
  2. Apply one layer of your sheer, coloured, jelly nail polish. Allow this to dry.
  3. Create little flowers using a regular or creme white polish. These are made using five tiny dots for the petals, leaving the centre blank for the sheer polish colour to shine through. You want to leave plenty of space between your flowers and only create a small number of them for this first layer.
  4. Once the first set of white flowers has dried apply a second coat of the jelly polish over the entire nail, including the flowers. At this point your flowers will look a lighter shade of the jelly polish colour you have chosen.
  5. After the polish has dried you will want to create a second layer of white flowers as in step 3. You may overlap the flowers you made earlier if you wish or keep them separate if you like that better. Again allow these flowers to dry thoroughly.
  6. Apply another layer of the sheer, jelly polish over your entire nail. You will notice that the first set of white flowers are now a darker shade than the second set you created. Once again allow this to dry.
  7. Add more little white flowers on top if you wish or leave it alone if you are satisfied how they have turned out.
  8. When your polish has dried well, add a layer of top coat for protection of your artwork.
  9. You can create as many sandwich layers as you wish until you arrive at the perfect nail art design.
  10. You can create any style of pattern you desire not just flowers, although they are fairly easy to do and great when you are just starting out to doing nail art. Try layering your sheer polish with glitter polish for a deeper glittery look to your nails.

8. Glitter Polishes


Many people love glitter and glitter polish is no exception! You can get so many different types of glitter polish it can make your head spin! Glitter can be fine or chunky, multi-coloured or an individual colour, flecked, specked or various shapes within it. You can get clear polish with glitter in it or have your favourite colour polish with glitter. Clear polish with glitter can go over any nail polish colour you want. This polish is perfect for wearing to a glamourous event or for some holiday sparkle or for anytime you want to feel pretty!


The photo above shows a selection of chunky glitter that isn’t shiny. This can be just as fun to wear as the sparkly glitter and you can create lots of great looking nail polish designs using these glitters! Glitter polish does have one drawback and that is trying to remove it. It sticks to your nails like superglue it seems. Never peel or scrape nail polish off as this will damage your nail underneath. There are tricks for easy removal of glitter polish however, that will make wearing this type of polish possible.

If you plan to wear the glitter polish for just one event and you want to be able to remove it quickly after the event is over, try using white glue as your base coat. To do this simply brush on white glue over all of your nails as you would a base coat. Wait for this to dry completely. It will be transparent when it has dried. Apply your polish and glitter polishes as you would normally over the glue rather than a base coat. Be a little more careful than usual if you use this method, as the glue can pull up and off of your nail. Once your event is over and you want to remove the glitter, simply peel and pull off the white glue. This is the only time you should ever peel or scrape off your nail polish, that is when you have used white glue for the base coat. Use nail polish remover for any bits that may have stuck.

Another great method for removing glitter polish when you apply it with regular base coat rather than white glue is explained in this video:

How to Remove Glitter Nail Polish

9. Duochrome


Duochrome polishes can look absolutely stunning! These polishes are gorgeous and add a dimension to your nails that will keep you staring at them. A duochrome style polish has at least two colours of nail polish combined that seem to change colour when you move them. You will catch yourself playing with them in the light to see the different colours appear and disappear. These polishes are great to be worn just on their own without even needing to have any nail art. They suit any and every occasion and are just as acceptable to wear to the office as they are to wear to a special event.


This photo above shows how gorgeous the duochrome polishes can look! Once you get hooked on duochrome polishes you will want almost every colour combination of nail polish designs they come up with. Wearing duochrome nail polish is like wearing nail art that took no effort.

10. Holographic Polish


If you thought duochrome nail polish designs were awesome, take a look at holographic polishes! These polishes will keep you staring at your nails and look their absolute best in direct sunlight! You can get holographic polishes in just about every colour imaginable. Test out any holographic polish you buy to see if the effect fades when you apply top coat. Sometimes the top coat can dull down the holographic effect, so keep aware of this when you wear it.

nail art using holographic nail polish

This example of nail art using holographic nail polish in the photograph above has used many different colours of holographic polish. This is a cute dotted design with layered holographic polish for the accent nail. Creating nail polish designs using holographic polish is a lot of fun and looks amazing in the sunlight.

Nail polish designs have come a long way over the decades with designers coming up with new types of nail polish to keep customers interested. Play around with all the different types of nail polish available today and the huge variety of colours they come in. There is no end to the possibilities of nail art that you can create with the plethora of polishes at one’s disposal. Not all polishes are created equal so find what brands of polish you like best and that give you the best coverage. Keep in mind the darker the nail polish the more chance there is it will stain your nails, so be sure to use a good base coat. Don’t forget a top coat to help keep your beautiful manicure looking it’s best for the longest time possible.


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