Nail Art Encyclopedia

Nail art has it's own "language", and this nail art encyclopedia will help you make sense of it all. As I started getting more into nail art I found myself wondering what the hell a "franken" was or what was the difference between a chrome and duochrome polish. Of course, I'm still learning just like everyone else so I'll keep adding and updating this encyclopedia with new terminology. If there's a term you think I should add, please email me!

Talk the talk

  • B3F (or Big 3 Free) - B3F polishes are polishes that don't contain formaldehyde, toluene and DBP. Most of the "fancy" polish brands (such as Deborah Lippman, Zoya, Chanel, China Glaze, OPI) are B3F but you can always check on the ingredients label. If you want more information check this article at All Laquered Up. It's also good to keep in mind if you have kids who like nail polish.
  • Bundle Monster - Bundle Monster is a brand of nail stamps, similar to Konad but usually not as expensive. For more information, see the Konad entry or the nail art supplies page.
  • Calgel - A gel treatment for nails that can last up to four weeks. Calgel started in Japan and gives the artist the freedom to do some truly creative designs. Sadly, it's not DIY you have to get it done in a salon.
  • Chevron NailsChevron - Similar to a french manicure, but with an angled "v" tip instead of the traditional rounded french tip. I think the name is derived from the Chevron car logo, which is kind of v-shaped.
  • Creme - Your standard nail polish. No glitter, shimmer or other fancy additions. The finish is smooth and glossy.
  • Duochrome - A finish of nail polish that changes between two, or sometimes more, colors in the sunlight. A really cool color changing polish.
  • Dupe - A polish that is similar to another (usually more expensive) polish by a different brand.
  • Faux-Nad - A slang term used by artists for nail stamping image plates other than Konad like Bundle Monster or generic plates from Ebay.
  • Fimo - A polymer clay that is made into "canes" with designs in the center, then sliced and applied to nails. For more information check out the nail art supplies page.
  • Flakies - Similar to glitter polish, but small, irregular shaped, opalescent bits in a jelly base. Nubar 2010 is my favorite flakie polish.
  • Foil NailsFoil - Foil can refer to a finish of nail polish that has a metallic base with added glitter for a smooth, shiny look. Foils can also refer to actual pieces of foil that you apply to your nail. Check Dollar Nail Art for lots of cool foils.
  • Franken - The term applied to home mixed polishes. Making your own Franken polishes can be a lot of fun. If you want to give it a try, check out the amazing tutorial from the master, Dr. Frankenpolish.
  • Glitter Sandwich - A fun new polish trend. It's coats of glitter layered under sheer jelly polishes. Check out the tutorial.
  • Gyaru NailsGyaru - A type of Japanese street fashion of completely decked out girls, including their fabulous, amazing nails. There's loads of different sub-cultures as well. Just google hime-gyaru nails and drool away!
  • Holographic - A finish of nail polish that has a rainbow metallic look, kind of like an oil spill!
  • Jelly - A finish of nail polish that is usually sheer with a high shine finish. They usually take several coats to be opaque but the pay off is that they're sooooo shiny! They're great fun for doing "glitter sandwiches".
  • Konad - Konad is a brand of nail stamps. The image plates are metal plates with images engraved on them. It's an easy way to apply intricate designs to your nails. Check out the tutorial.
  • Matte - A finish of nail polish that has no shine at all. They're a fun way to change up your look, but tend to chip easily as most top coats ruin the look. Essie makes a nice matte top coat so you can have a matte finish on any polish.
  • Minx NailsMinx - The newest celebrity nail trend, Minx are nail coverings made of a flexible polymer that is heated and applied to nails, and are only sold to and applied by salon professionals. They have finishes that we just can't achieve with polish no matter how good we are.
  • Ombré - A graduated fading color technique. It's a french word meaning "shade" or "shadow". Ombré nails are fast becoming a very popular trend. Try it yourself!
  • Suede - A finish of nail polish that is similar to Matte, but with the addition of some shimmer. Suede polishes are seriously sexy.
  • Water Marble - AKA Water Marbling. A very fun, sometimes messy polish technique. Creates amazing intricate marble designs. Check out the tutorial.

I really want to make this the best nail art encyclopedia on the web, so if you feel I'm missing something please let me know!

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