Nail art--in its over-the-top 3D incarnation, at least--is waning in popularity a bit, and polishes aimed at giving you a nail art-y feel without all the work have been taking its place.
"Texture" is the new buzzword in nail polish right now and it's used to describe how a polish feels, or the illusion of texture it gives: There's Matte, contrasting glitter particles, holographic effects, etc.
Click through for a review of some of the newest nail texture trends (like concrete, feathers, sand, holographic, and speckle) and what we thought of them, including really detailed pics of what they actually look like when they're on. (Thanks to our very own Nora Crotty for being an amazing hand model, and also for offering her opinions. As if we could have stopped her.)
The finish is matte and very bumpy, sort of like the effect you get when you put too thick a coat of polish on and it dries with air bubbles. You can actually see small particles in the polish when you're painting it on. The good news is that you don't need to add a top coat--you're good to go after the usual two coats. It takes a bit of extra work to get off--not quite as annoying as a glitter polish, but it definitely takes more elbow grease than a standard polish.
Verdict: We have mixed feelings on this one. The bumpy, sandpapery texture is a bit disconcerting, but it actually looks pretty cool in lighter, more subtle colors (both of these brands offer a dove grey). It's definitely a look-at-me sort of manicure--the texture is really noticeable.
Like their plainer textured relatives (see previous slide), these polishes are matte and have a noticeable rough texture you can feel once they dry. The big difference here, though, is the micro glitter. Even though the base color is matte, you get a bit of depth and sparkle that's downright fairy-like. The end result is subtle glitter and subtle texture.
You don't need to apply a top coat, but like any glitter polish, expect to work harder to get the colors off.
Verdict: We loved these polishes, particularly Zoya's Godiva color, which is neutral and sort of looks like magical, enchanted sand. (If magical, enchanted sand existed.) OPI's Solitaire is also a great silvery neutral.
We first saw the concept of speckled polish when Illamasqua ($17) released its spotty polishes for spring. Shortly afterwards Deborah Lippmann debuted its Staccato collection ($19), which is inspired by ice cream.
These polishes come in creamy pastels with circular black matte glitter pieces floating inside. After the polish dries there's definitely some bumpiness, but it's not as textured as the polishes we've talked about so far. The effect here is more one of illusion rather than actual texture.
Verdict: This look really grew on us. We have a slight preference for Illamasqua's version over Deborah Lippmann's, because the glitter pieces are different sizes, which give it a bit more depth. The caveat: Illamasqua's sold out in a heartbeat, although you can get it through the brand's UK site.
So-called holographic top coats have been a thing for a while now (Deborah Lippmann did one for the Barneys Lady Gaga holiday collection last year), but this season Color Club ($10) released a whole collection of metallic, "holographic" polishes. They aren't necessarily textured, but they give the illusion of texture. There's a very cool rainbow/3D effect when the light hits them a certain way.
Verdict: Most of the Fashionista office has tried and loved these polishes. Added bonus: Some magic in the polish makes it very chip resistant.
OK, this one is an outlier. It doesn't really qualify as a textured polish, but the bottle for this YSL Tie and Dye lacquer ($25.00) was so damn cool we had to try it out. According to YSL, you can use this "pop coat" as a standalone product--sort of like you'd use a highlighter on your face--to give a bit of shine to your nails--and you can either use the polish separated for a gradient effect or shake it up. Both were very subtle--we didn't really notice a gradient; however, when we layered it over one of YSL's standard lacquers, it gave a really beautiful sheen.
Verdict: Don't expect tie dye, but do expect gorgeous shimmer and shine.