Ever feel like everyone is talking in a different language when it comes to their nails? Between IG, FB, YouTube, Twitter and the blogs, nail enthusiasts are describing their manis in more technical terms nowadays. No need to feel left out, you’ve come to the right place. No more scratching your head wondering what is being said, after reading this post you’ll be able to, read, write and speak fluent nailish (like English, but nail…oh never mind you get it).
A, B, C‘s
3-Free: a polish that does not contain Toulene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) and Formaldehyde
3-Stroke Method: a method of applying polish where only 3 brushstrokes are used.
4-Free: a polish that does not contain Toulene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde and Camphor.
5-Free: a polish that does not contain Toulene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Camphor and Formaldehyde Resin.
Accent Nail / Statement Nail: one nail that is painted differently from the others
Base Coat: base coat is your first layer. Usually clear or clear with a slight tint. It’s often sticky and “anchors” your polish. It also helps to prevent staining and gives a nice smooth surface
BN: Brand New also BNNU: Brand New Never Used, BNNO: Brand New, Never Opened BNIB: Brand New In Box, BNWS: Brand New With Seal.
Brushstrokes: visible brush marks seen usually with shimmer, frosted or metallic polishes.
C-Curve: the curvature or arch of a nail as seen when looking at the nail from the tip down.
Caviar/Nail Caviar: caviar is miniscule beads
Chrome: a highly metallic polish
Cinderella Hand: the hand that does all the work and gets none of the credit. (ie: non-dominant hand)
Clean-Up: the process of removing the excess polish on fingers and around cuticles after application of polish, and nail art with a small brush dipped into acetone or polish remover and going around the cuticle and walls of the nail.
Core line: part of a brand’s permanently available collection
Crack/Crackle: polish that is meant to form gaps in an irregular pattern during drying
Crelly: a cross between a creme and a jelly polish with characteristics of both.
Crème: a polish formula that is opaque can be available in glossy, matte and textured finishes
Cruelty Free: products that are not tested on animals.
Dabbing: polish application needed with some glitter polishes or nail art techniques.
DC: this can mean two things. Discontinued in terms of polish or Delivery Confirmation in terms of shipping
Decant: a mini sized bottle of polish created by pouring polish from a full sized bottle.
Destash: a sale of previously owned, lightly used or sometimes new, nail polishes and/or nail related items. This can be done on various platforms: FB groups, IG, Storeenvy, Pintrest, etc
(D)ISO: (Desperately) In Search Of
Drag: also known as balding, or cuticle drag, it refers to the bald spots that sometimes occur when you paint a second coat and the second coat appears to remove a section of the previous coat and makes application look streaky.
Duochrome/Multichrome: polishes that change color depending upon the angle from which they are viewed. Duochrome = two color change, Multi = multiple
Dupe: an almost exact color and texture finish of a polish. It can also refer to an exact polish that you bought twice
Enablers: those evil nail group ladies who encourage you to buy more polish, by posting alluring and beautiful pictures of swatches and discount codes for companies….lol
Fimo: a type of clay used to create sticks with designs rolled into them which are then cut into very thin slices and used to glue on nails for decoration.
Finish: a particular texture or appearance when the polish is dry
Fishing: putting in a lot of effort to get glitter from a nail polish onto the brush. Sometimes requiring tools to mix up the polish and get at the glitters.
Flakies: a type of irregular shaped glitter made from mylar, usually iridescent or translucent and incorporated into top coats
Flocking Powder: a velvety looking powder.
Flooding: refers to the pool of polish gathered up in and around cuticles and flooding down into the walls
Foil: refers to a type of metallic polish with ground up metal particles that is somewhat reflective OR a sheet of material with printed design used with adhesive to transfer the printed design to nails.
Foil Method: nail polish removal technique difficult-to-remove polish such as glitters.
Franken: combining two or more polishes or pigments to create a new color.
Free Edge: the white part of your nail that extends past the tip of your finger.
Frost: a type of finish of polish; shimmering and pearlescent
FWNPP: First World Nail Polish Problem
GB: Group Buy – when a bunch of people make a group order
Gap: the cuticle gap, the space between where your nail polish starts and your cuticle ends.
Gel Polish: a very popular long lasting type of polish that requires a UV or LED lamp to “cure” it, and give it a glass-like finish.
Glass Fleck: glass fleck polishes contain medium sized translucent glitters, more pronounced effect than a regular shimmer and can look like ground glass particles shimmering in light.
Glequin/Glitter Placement: loose hex glitter applied in rows and patterns like sequins.
Gradient: two or more colors all gradually fading smoothly from one to another.
Haul: Nail Haul or Nail Mail. Your shameful pile of goodies that “fell into your cart” and you humbly post pictures
Helmer: a metal storage unit with drawers sold by Ikea.
Holo: brilliant colors that shift with light, resembling the colors formed by refraction of light through a prism. Holo polishes come in many different forms: Linear, Scattered and Glitter
Hybrid Polish: applies like regular polish with the finish of gel polish (does not require a lamp to cure it).
Indie: Independent brand of Nail Polish not available in drug stores. Artisan made nail Polish, often 3, 4, and 5 free.
Jelly: colored polish that is not opaque, it looks like jelly.
Junk Nail/Mani: an accent nail or entire mani, consisting of everything you can possibly put on the nail/mani – ie charms, bows, flowers, gems, glitter, chain, studs etc.
Latex (Latex Barrier or Liquid Latex): a product that is applied around the nail bed to protect the skin while creating nail art that is easily peeled off when finished.
LE: Limited Edition polish. Only available in limited quantities for a short time
Lemming: a nail polish you want so badly that you’d consider giving up your firstborn for it.
Lobster hands: when a nail color makes your hands look more red than they actually are.
Low-buy: you promise yourself you’re going to limit your polish purchases or put yourself on a budget. (See “No buy” below)
Manicure/Mani: a cosmetic treatment of the hands involving cutting, shaping, and often painting of the nails, removal of the cuticles and softening of the skin.
Mani Shot/Mani Bomb: similar to a bath bomb but in a smaller size that when placed in water it fizzes and bubbles. It’s used to moisturize and soothe hands and/or feet.
Mainstream: a polish made by a large company; usually sold in drug and/or department stores
Metallic: a type of finish that is high in shine and mirror-like.
Mannequin hands: having nails painted with a nude color, making your nails the same color as your skin tone.
Matte: matte polishes are formulated to dry to a flat finish, without any shine. They are intended to be worn without any top coat
Melmer: a particle board version of a helmer, sold at places like Michaels
NOTD: Nails of the Day, a picture of today’s manicure.
Nail Cleavage: the underside of the free edge.
Nail Fail: or when it’s very bad, Epic Nail Fail. When your Nail Art goes wrong.
Nail Mail: basically, anything received in the Mail that is for use on your nails.
Nail Mail Buddy: a fellow polish enthusiast, with whom you enter into a verbal contract that each will supply the other with a pre-agreed package, at a set time, every month, or week.
Nailgasm: a manicure so fabulous, so awesome, you are amazingly excited by it, and post pics of it everywhere.
Nail Porn: any nail related picture, a manicure, a nail haul or nail mail that makes you encounter a Nailgasm.
Nailspiration: nail inspiration for your next nail art. Involves fruitless searching of Google, Pinterest, Instagram and photos in all your favorite Facebook groups.
Nail Vinyls: sheet of adhesive shaped tapes in pre-cut shapes such as chevron, lightning bolt, or right angles.
No-Buy: an allotted amount of time picked out by an individual during which they will not buy any nail polish.
NP: Nail Polish
Nubbins: very short nails
OOAK: One Of A Kind nail polish. A custom polish, available only once, only one batch (and sometimes one bottle) was created, and it will not be available again.
Ombre: is the gradual blending of one color hue to another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark.
One-Stroke: a method of painting that creates a light to dark fade in one stroke.
Pedicure/Pedi: a cosmetic treatment of the feet and toenails involving cutting, often painting of the nails, and softening of the skin.
Peel-Off Basecoat: a type of basecoat, usually used under hard to remove glitter polishes that peels off the nail without damaging the nail bed.
RAOK: Random Act Of Kindness.
Satin: a type of finish that give the polish a not shiny but not entirely matte finish.
Scraper: a product made of thin, flat plastic that is used to scrape the excess polish off of a stamping plate while doing stamping nail art. It could be something as simple as an old gift card or credit card, or a piece of plastic specifically designed for this.
Sheer: a sheer polish have more of a tint than an actual coating of color. They’re very difficult to build to opacity, but then, they’re supposed to be.
Shimmer: a popular polish finish, shimmers contain particles that “shimmer” in the light.
Shrinkage: when a polish “shrinks up” as it dries and is most often seen with quick-dry top coats. The polish underneath shrinks away from the tips (and/or cuticles) of the nails making it look like there is obvious wear/tip wear.
Smile Line: the smile line is that (usually) curved line where nail bed ends and the free edge begins.
Spectraflair: often used by indie makers or frankeners to create linear or scattered holographic polishes.
Stamper: a nail art tool used to transfer stamping designs, usually with a silicone top/head that is fitted in a metal or plastic handle.
Stamping Plates: metal plates with designs etched into them that are used for stamping nail art. There are many different brands that make them and they come in a variety of shapes, sizes and designs.
Stamping Polish: nail polish that is very opaque and thicker than regular polish and is used for stamping nail art.
Stash: a person’s personal collection of nail polish.
Striping Tape: very thin sticky tape
Suede: at the intersection of matte and shimmer, suede polishes are shimmers that dry to a flat, shine-free finish.
Swap: when you and a friend/nail buddy swap polishes, nail supplies and/or treats.
Swaplifter: person who makes a deal with you to swap nail polish or goods but they never hold up their end of the deal.
Swatch: photo of polish applied to the nail or a nail wheel to show others what the color/finish looks like. Usually done in order to photograph it for a blog post
Swatch Stick: a plastic stick with a fake nail attached to it.
Swatch Wheel: aka Nail Wheel. A plastic circle with multiple fake nails attached to it.
Teabag method: one way to patch a crack on the side of a nail. Similar to using silk wraps, but you use part of a teabag instead of a silk patch.
Texture: type of finish that purposely has a gritty, bumpy, lumpy and/or other textured appearance.
The Angry Vag aka Scrubby Tub or Up and Up NP Remover Dip: jars with sponge or brush soaked in acetone using to remove nail polish.
Thermal: a type of nail polish that changes color when warm or cold.
Tipwear: when polish has worn off at the free edge.
Topper: a topper is a polish specifically intended to be worn over others, such as a glitter or flakie.
Undie/Underwear: the undercoat of polish, the first color of your manicure, not to be confused with base coat.
Untried(s): polish(es) that you have purchased but remain unused.
(V)HTF: (Very) Hard To Find, referring to polishes that are literally hard to find
VNL: Visible Nail Line.
Wrapping: this technique helps prolong the life of a manicure by lightly swiping the brush across the front edge of the nail as well, reducing tip wear and shrinkage from quick-dry top coats.
Wraps/Nail Wraps – An easier way to have detailed Nail Art. Manufactured by many different companies nowadays
Whew…did you make it all the way through? Did you see a term you didn’t know? Be sure to comment and let me know. Or comment if you think something needs to be added, as our world grows so shall our terminology. Stay turned for Part II: Nail Art Techniques.