Iridescent, Opal Nails Are the Annual Spring Trend That I'll Always Be Down For

Any time I see a lacquer that has a sort of opalescent finish, I straight up gag.
Publish date:
March 23, 2016
beauty, nail polish, nails, nail trends

Full disclosure: I’ve been meaning to write this article for three years, and I’ve only just now, I don’t know, gotten around to it. But calm down, because I could write this any given year, because this certain trend comes back every spring.


I really don’t know why I love iridescent nail polish so much since I hate nail polish with any sort of dimension or glitter. I know they’re cool! They're just not for me. Cream colors only, please.

But any time I see a lacquer that has a sort of opalescent finish, or even a cream color that reflects a certain sheen when it catches the light, I straight up gag. They go against everything I believe to be true about nail polish, but they're still my weakness. Every year, one of the luxury beauty brands releases a new, limited edition, iridescent polish that sends me through the roof. Spring 2014, it was Dior's limited edition matte opal Perlé:

In July of 2014, MAC launched their Liquid Pigment Top Coats, which featured four different sheens of iridescent highlight to accent any nail color (now part of their permanent collection.)

Fall of 2014 brought us Chanel's metallic iridescent Atmosphere:

I guess 2014 was a big year for iridescent opals. Aren't all of those gorgeous? I'm dying.

This spring, YSL joins the party with two complimentary, limited edition nail shades that are perfect for spring. The first is Love Pink, a pastel, coral-pink with a green sheen when it hits the light.

Pink nails aren't exactly earth shattering, especially since I like my pinks hot. Love Pink is a nice, warm pink that's not too neon if your workplace (fucking sucks and) frowns upon bright nails, but will definitely garner a second glance.

The pink shifts once it hits the light, and, though green is obviously at the opposite end of the color wheel, it makes a killer accent that really kicks the shade up a notch and makes it not just your average pink.

Peace Green is the standout shade of the two, if you ask me, which I'm assuming you are since you're reading this.

For starters, a good mint green should be a part of everyone's polish collection because it pops off of and flatters every skin tone. Plus, you'll always get a lot of compliments on mint green, and who doesn't want compliments?

This cool mint green is accented by a pink sheen which really shouldn't work as well as it does, but don't take it from me:


I know, I know, I know. It's gorgeous. It pained me to have to remove it, but I had other nail colors to shoot.

They're $28 a pop, which is what you're basically always going to pay for a limited edition luxe lacquer. Don't blame me, I don't price them. When I have my own line of nail polish, they'll all be $8, and then you'll have nothing to bitch about. The downside is that they're going fast, as usual. The upside is that eBay exists and you can cop them for face value without much of a battle.

But I'm just using these as the jump-off for a good iridescent polish. While shades like these aren't exactly mass produced, they're definitely not impossible to find, either. Let's talk about some of my other favzies.

One of my favorite iridescent shades is one that's on the more subtle side — FLORESCENT BEIGE by Marc Jacobs, and not only for the name.

It's a taupey-beige with just a hint of a fiery phoenix florescent flash. I didn't do that just for the alliteration but I'm keeping it.

The spark of pink is more pronounced in the bottle than on the nail, but the subtlety is what I love about it.

I wear this one quite a bit. I love a nice taupe nail, but that little sheen really does set this one apart. A few weeks ago, I layered one sheer coat of this over Deborah Lippman's Shape Of My Heart, a very soft pink, for a muted, creamy light beige, because I'm a genius.

A very new shade that caught my eye recently was Stagecoach from Defy and Inspire. Defy & Inspire is Target's new line of nail polish made up of 38 colors. This Stagecoach isn't available online yet, but they're all showing up in stores as you read this.

It's a slate gray meets light blue, with a big flash of bright orange.

This one really shows off. It's not a duochrome, but it plays like one. At first, it's an unassuming blue-gray, but once it catches the light, it's over.

Where as Florescent Beige is accented by the iridescence, Stagecoach puts it at the forefront, making it as much of a star as the base color itself.

This color is so cool that even my dad complimented it.

If you're looking for a lacquer that takes the iridescent accent and makes it more literal, looking like an actual opal (which I love), there are two that I reach for. The first is Unicorn Horn by Pacifica, $9.

This is a sheer, creamy polish that can be built to opacity or layered over another color for added dimension. Pacifica will tell you that it has a rainbow sheen, but I found that it reflects more pink and orange. Below, I layered two coats over Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel in Get Mod, a white (which I always feel has a tinge of gray?)

It's more subtle, but the pink sheen is a great accent to anything you layer it on top of. ALSO, the pink pigments are so finely milled that it doesn't look like a glitter polish, the whole thing just fluidly glows~.

Another gorgeous opal polish is by Red Carpet Manicure in Opal. It's a clear base packed with multi-dimensional, fine glitter, which reflects blues, green, violets, and pinks, depending on how the light hits.

This one is meant to be layered over other colors as the base is much more sheer and a lot less creamy than a lot of other opal polishes, but the final effect is very worth the layering. It's a lot more noticeable and plays a lot more on the nail. The glitters are more apparent with this one, but there's a lot more happening with it, too.

Should I do an opal manicure tutorial? Tell me in the comments!

Tynan is doing his nails on Twitter @TynanBuck.