An Intro to indie polishes – best brands and finishes
After delving into the history of indie nail polishes and answering why you absolutely should try indie nail polishes in the last post here, here’s the second part of my introduction to indie nail polishes. This time, it’s all about the best indie nail polish brands and finishes, and I’ll show you some favourites and latest trends.
Latest trend: Magnetic polish and holographic powders
Russian brand Masura changed everything you think you knew about magnetic nail polish last year. There’re now super strong magnets to create the iconic cat’s eye pattern and magnetic polishes come with a holo finish.
Another trend has been holographic powders that create a super strong holographic effect and work best over gels. A lot of brands have them – try Whatsupnails for quite a big selection. Beware – it doesn’t work well over regular polish.
Holographic nail polish
The entrance drug of indie polishes. Colors by Llarowe does wonderful ones that seems to be glowing. They usually have a wonderful formula as well, with lots of one-coaters. The Mighty Red Baron is a must-have for all red nail polish lovers. Trust me. They do holo finishes in all forms – straight up, bam in your face holo, scattered, and this deeply glowing, smoldering finish – I’m a fan. Glam Polish does bright colours with a holo finish again and again, mixing things up occasionally by throwing some flakies or glitters into the mix.
ILNP does them all, and they’re fabulous – duochromes and multichromes with or without a holo finish. They also carry the utterly stunning multichrome flakies. You’ll stare at your nails all day long, I promise! Also, you don’t have to layer these. (A lot of duo- and multichromes work best over a black base, but these don’t need one.) Dance Legend and Girly Bits also have great ones.
Shimmers and glitters
Femme Fatale has become one of my favourite brands lately (just a heads up, I’m so not unbiased when it comes to them). Sophie, the brand’s founder, can always be counted on creating something that’s totally non-boring, unusual and quirky. She does everything – thermals, holos, flakies and glitters, but she really does shimmers like no-one else. Unusual colour combinations, flawless formulas, awesome themed limited editions – I fall for them every time. Emily de Molly is quite similar – gorgeous polishes and she has a lot of different finishes to choose from. I like her holos and glitters quite a bit, but her shimmers are truly something else. Both of them also make really pretty glitter polishes too that’ve come a long way from the glitters a few years ago! Cadillacquer deserves a mention in this category, too (see also under work appropriate polishes).
Love the complex thermals that Femme Fatale does – it’s never just a polish that changes colour, but also there’re shimmers and glitters in them and they’re just so complex and pretty. Bow Polish takes thermals and UV reactive polishes to another level. You’ll see up to three colours at once on your nails based on temperature/light exposure, which makes for a pretty cool ombre effect!
For polishes that’re composed of flakies in a clear base, ILNP is the way to go (ok, there’s also Cirque). They not only do multichrome flakies that change between different colours, but also highly metallic flakies interspersed with holo pigments. The great thing about flakies is that they yield stunning effects, but, differently than glitter polishes, are super easy to remove. Indigo Bananas hasn’t brought out anything new lately (so sad!), but has awesome jelly polishes with multichrome flakies in their portfolio.
Save for work indie nail polishes
Never flashy, never brash, all a bit subdued and classy – my top three brands I’d wear for work. a-england has made it a form of art to create polishes in muted shades with a subtle holographic effects (also drawing inspiration from British mythology – love their names!). Swiss brand Cadillacquer does the same with glitters – she never does ‘loud’ colours, but all her polishes have a nice little twist to keep them from being boring. I love Elevation Polish’s collections, because she always works within a theme and goes from there. Her polishes are always unusual and a little bit quirky: She also has a wide range of finishes, from thermals to holos to shimmers.
Rare like an unicorn, and equally pretty
Enchanted Polish and Takko Lacquer will make you headdesk frequently, because both will irregularly come out with some new shades on their own sites, and then it’s a free-for-all, everybody for themselves kind of affair that makes you think of MAC’s releases fondly. Everything sells out quickly, and especially EP has a high value for reselling (I found a listing on ebay for about 500$ for ONE bottle of their collab with fashion brand Mishka a few years ago). They rarely come out with innovation polishes any more, but everything they do is quite unique and very pretty. EP is famous for pairing duochrome holos with glitters. This year, they also do monthly mystery polishes – all shimmers. Takko does a little bit of everything, and does it wonderfully well.
Not meaning that all other brands mentioned above aren’t professional, but here’re brands that aren’t exactly small any more (and are very likely not any longer bottled by hand, but in labs): Cirque Lacquer works with retailers like Nordstrom and the Metropolitan Museum, NCLA and Picture Polish are famous for blogger collabs and ILNP has seasonal collections like all big companies have. Russian brand Dance Legend, though it comes out with new stuff and stays on top of innovations, is hardly considered indie at all anymore. It’s huge! I own polishes from every brand mentioned here and love them all. Also, different to some smaller brands, their limited editions stay in stock for quite a while – so no reason to rush.
If you’re wondering where to get those wondreous creations – go to part one of this post to find out about the best stockists in your respective countries!
Any questions you’d like to see answer to in regards to indie nail polishes? Also, did I tempt you to try any of the brands featured here? 😉