Nail It: Sparkle, Shimmer, Shine and Matte for Everyone

BlogHer Original Post

Here's what I love about nail polish -- it's an easy, affordable way to update your look. It doesn't get in your way like a bracelet, and it stays on longer than lipstick, but it's easier to change than a hair cut. So, perfect, right?

Well, some colors and types are better than others, and I've spent the last few weeks trying them out to weigh the pros and cons of my top picks in a few hot hues. Whether you want to sparkle, shimmer, shine, or go matte, I've got you (and your nails) covered.

Sparkle

What's more fun than glitter? Seriously. Maybe I'm a magpie, but sparkly things always catch my eye. However, I tend to have two problems with glittery nail polish. For one thing, it's never actually the color it is in the bottle -- it's clear with flecks of glitter, so it takes a million coats to make my nails that shade. Second, once all those coats are on, you need an hour, some muscle, and an act of God to get it off again.

OPI's Mad as a Hatter, $7.50. (part of the Alice in Wonderland collection) is the best I've found. The purply-black multi-colored glitter is, in a word, rad. It's edgy, but not too punk for a Preppie like me to wear, and it only takes two coats to get great color. In the "con" column, it chips easily (but is incredibly easy to touch up), and it's not terribly easy to take off entirely. Still, it's worth it.

Sometimes, though, you want to take it down a notch. There are a couple of shimmery shades I'm totally in love with. The first, I saw in a magazine and scoured my local stores and the Internet until I found it -- Orly Foil FX in Rage, $7.50. The rose-gold hue is one part subdued and neutral, another part glam with a pinch of rock n' roll.

For something a little more offbeat color, Sephora by OPI in Fancy Schmancy, $9, is utterly fabulous. On its own, it's a light silvery-blue, but it layers over any other color to tone down the brightness but amp up the shimmer in a big way. Personally, I'm digging wearing it on its own on my fingers and layering it over a dark purple or navy on my toes.

A simple shine might be more appropriate for some offices, but that doesn't mean it has to be boring. On a whim, I picked up Gum Drop by Revlon for about $4 at Walgreens (I can't find it online), and get this -- it's scented. Yes, I know, that doesn't have much to do with how it looks, but when your nails actually smell good instead of, well, like nail polish, it's a real treat (especially since you'll need two or three coats to get a solid color. The light lilac color is terrific with lightly tanned skin and, while not exactly wild, it's a far departure from a boring beige.

And, then there's matte nail color. I won't lie -- I'm just not a fan, but I wanted to give it a fair shot so I ordered Essie's Matte About You, $10, which is a clear topcoat that makes any polish matte. The good news is that it works really well. I tested it with a few different polishes and it took the shine and shimmer out of them all, even those with a bit of iridescence. So, it does just what it's supposed to do. The bad news is that, no matter what color I used it with, I hated it. I hated it less with a really dark color than with a light one, but it's just not my thing.

Do you have a shade you're sporting this summer? Please share! (Because clearly, all the colors above simply aren't enough. I think I might have a problem.)

Kristen Seymour is a BlogHer Style CE; when she's not talking about nail polish here, you can find her over at Jeez-o-petes.

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