Lacquer Lingo

11:07 AM Laura 2 Comments

When I first discovered the heavenly manna that is nail blogs, I was wildly confused by some of the terms being used that no one ever defined. I was defining as I went along, but I think it'd be easier if I just made a little dictionary for all of you who aren't lacquer-literate. :) I'll add terms as I think of them, and if you ever want something defined, just leave a comment! I'll upload pictures that correspond to the words when I have them.

Core - if a polish is called "core," that means that it is a permanent part of a nail polish brand's line. It won't be discontinued or as hard to find as limited edition polishes.

Creme - a polish finish, meaning that it is generally opaque in one to two coats. Does not have any shimmer or glitter, it's just straight-up solid color.
Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Green With Envy

Duochrome - a polish that appears to be two different colors from different angles. Also note multichrome, which appears to be more than two colors from different angles.
Chanel Peridot. See the gold/amber near the center and the blue/green color near the edges?

Dupe - short for "duplicate." If one polish is a "dupe" for another, that means they look exactly the same. I'll probably never have a picture to put on here, since I try to avoid buying dupes.
Okay, I lied. Literally the day after this I went out and I bought dupes. From L to R: OPI Cajun Shrimp, Essie One of a Kind, CS, OoaK.

Flakie - kind of a type of glitter suspended in a polish base. It's hard to explain, I really need a picture to show you, but since I don't own any flakies currently (sob!), you're going to have to wait.

Flash - almost a duochrome, but not quite. The base color just has strong undertones of another color from certain angles.

Franken - a homemade nail polish made from two or more other polishes. Comes from "Frankenstein," get it?
My own creation, Back Off, Audrey

Frost - a polish finish, trademarked by visible brushstrokes left on the nail even after the polish is completely dry. Most polishers hate this, but it doesn't really bother me at all.
Milani Mr. Sandman

Glitter - sparkly particles suspended in a nail polish base. This should be pretty self-explanatory. There are several types of glitter: bar glitter (straight lines), hex glitter (hexagon shaped), square glitter (don't think this one needs explaining), circle glitter (also self-explanatory), and microglitter (very tiny glitter).
OPI Mad as a Hatter, which has medium sized circle glitter.

Holo - a nail polish that produces a rainbow pattern when the lighting is right.
Milani Cyberspace

HTF - an acronym for "hard to find."

IRL - an acronym for "in real life."

Jelly - a type of polish finish. The color starts out sheer, but is buildable in a few coats.
Revlon Royal. I think this is 2/3 coats. See how it looks "squishy?" Forgive my lack of cleanup.

Konad - a brand that makes nail polish stamps. The process of nail stamping is commonly referred to as "Konading," or "fauxnading" if one is not using Konad brand plates.
Konading materials. From left to right: stamper, image plate in holder, and scraper.

Lemming - can be either a verb or a noun. It means that you really want a certain nail polish
     Ex. used as a verb: "I am lemming Clarins 230 so bad right now."
     Ex. used as a noun: "Clarins 230 is one of my biggest lemmings!"

Marbling - a technique used to make a marble-y effect on nails. Takes a while to get the hang of. I've only executed it successfully once, ironically, it was my first time trying it. Beginner's luck, eh?

Matte - a dull, unshiny finish. Also note satin or velvet, which are kind of like a less hardcore version of matte.
Zoya Phoebe

Sheer - very thin polish, VNL is usually unavoidable.
Zoya Dharma

Shimmer - another polish finish, sort of like ultrafine glitter, but not as hard to remove. If you're not sure if something is a microglitter or a shimmer, this is my rule of thumb: if it's difficult to remove, it's probably a glitter. If not, it's probably shimmer.
Finger Paints Dahlia My Number, click on it to see the gold shimmer.

Skittles - wearing a different color polish on each nail.
See the rainbow... You probably shouldn't taste it.

Underwear - an opaque layer of polish used under sheer polishes, if desired, to prevent VNL.
One coat of OPI Alpine Snow underneath a cheap sheer polish.

VNL - Visible Nail Line, meaning you can still see the line between the white tip of your nail and the nail bed. Can be seen in the picture for "Sheer."


  1. wow thanks for this! I have just 'discovered' the world of nail art blogs and all the acronyms were getting me a bit confused, especially the lemming one! thanks for this Fab glossary :) Gemma x


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