January 02, 2012

Glitter Nail Polish 101

Glitter nail polish is the Marmite of the beauty world; you either love it or hate it. It's hard to be indifferent as it makes such a statement that you really have to like it to commit to sporting it on your nails for a few days.

If you're in the love camp then you'll know how much pain and heartache comes with wearing glitter polish. From the longevity to the removal, it's all a right pain in the arse! Makes you wonder why we bother at all!

As a pro-glitter campaigner, I thought I would share some of my tried and tested tips for increasing the wear of glitter polish, what topcoats suit best and the all important removal process!


The trick to prolonging the wear of your glitter polish is to have as little product as possible on the nail.

Glitter, by nature, is thick and grainy and most glitter polishes are particles suspended in a semi-jelly formula which means they aren't the most viscous and manoeuvrable of polishes to begin with.

There is no room here for a layer of nail hardener, a layer of base coat, an optional layer of nail colour and then 3-4 layers of glitter. This stratification will make your nails thick and lumpy and decreases the bond between the base and the top layera of polish which means chipping becomes impossible to prevent.

Instead, I work in thin layers, with no more than 4 for my entire nail. I apply a sliver of nail hardener to act as a base, OPI Nail Envy Matte is my current pick, then either two thin, evenly-spread, layers of glitter polish or one thin layer of nail colour and one of glitter.

You have to work quickly and thinly and  there definitely is a knack to getting the glitter spread evenly that only practice will teach. The final layer should be one of a good, heavy duty topcoat which I will discuss next.


If you use glitter a lot, you'll know a topcoat is pretty much a necessity. Glitter is grainy and, when dry, will feel rough and like sandpaper without a topcoat.

Not only is this texture unappealing to the touch but, the grains also call for any thread, fluff or string in a five mile radius to catch and pull the glitter off your nail.

However, not all topcoats work well with glitter with the majority causing shrinkage, that is when the topcoat pulls back from the tip of the nail, taking the glitter layer with it. This leaves the tip of the nail exposed and unpainted. Not cool!

I've tried a tonne of topcoats in my glitter escapades and, without a doubt, the best is Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. Insta-Dri does not cause any obvious shrinkage and it is also the topcoat which makes glitter last the longest!


"I love glitter polish but, it's a BITCH to remove!"

This is the general consensus of the beauty community and one which is Tweeted at least once a week by one of us! Simply soaking a cotton pad in nail polish remover and swiping over the nail will not suffice when glitter is involved. Oh no, for glitter removal, one must get technical and creative!

The first option is the foil method. This involves soaking a cotton ball/pad in nail polish remover, pressing it onto the nail and wrapping a strip on tinfoil around each finger. Leave it to sit for 3-4 minutes and then twist the foil and ball off the nail, removing the glitter.

However, my personal favourite method of glitter removal is one which I discovered as a child after painting my nails against my mam's orders and finding that there was no nail polish remover in the house to take it off and hide my sheer disobedience!

Quite simply, take a nail polish you don't like/use, apply it over the glitter one nail at a time and allow to go tacky. The wipe off with a cotton pad and everything beneath it will come with it!

This method is also great for normal polish if you, like me, always seem to be out of nail polish remover!

So, they are some of my favourite tips for easily wearing glitter polish! Are you a member of the glitterati or is it still more trouble than it's worth?!


  1. I'm definitely team glitter! But I really rarely wear it because the removal is SUCH a pain! Thanks so much for your tips, some of them were really useful. This was a great post! <3 :)

  2. Ridge filler base coat, of the transparent kind, also works well to smooth glitter. A layer or two over gritty glitter, topped with a proper top coat, and nails should be smooth and glossy.

  3. I am a fence sitter (yes I have splitters in my bum) when it comes to glitter because it very much depends on the glitters.

    Let me begin by saying I am not intending to offend anyone BUT (you knew it was coming) I despise the glitter that looks like 3 year olds have been playing with hair gel and a pot of glitter and have thrown up on their fingers. Those huge chunks of irregular shapes of blinding neon glitter mixed with fairy dust and glass flecks... no thanks! Or the taco glitter that looks absolutely ridiculous on nails or the glitter that is so sparse in the bottle that you need a toothpick and 1/2 a day to do your nails... no thanks!

    "Flakie" glitter... I can't get enough of the stuff! Special effect top coat polish which is often a very fine shimmer/glitter... love it!

    In 35 years of using nail polish, I have never had it chip so perhaps I shouldn't comment but the only additional thing I do with glitter polish to lay an extra top coat and I am not fussy. I have a ton of them so it can be anything from Poshe to Seche Vite to Orly to CND etc etc.

    To get glitter off is just a matter of breaking the surface so I lightly buff the top coat polish (NOT my nails) which breaks the chemical bonds and it the glitter polish is as easy to remove as non glitter polish.

    Hope this ramble helps someone :)


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