5 Ways to Layer Nail Polish

Layering nail polishes. It definitely is much more than just adding glitter over a color. You know those sheer colors that you have that don’t really look great on their own? Layering combinations of sheer, opaque, and glitter polishes can create completely different looks that you couldn’t achieve otherwise. Aside from the endless combinations it can give you, it also looks completely different than just mixing two colors. Layering provides a bit of depth to a plain color, a personalized shade, and even some cool easy nail art. Read on for 5 layering ideas!

1. LAYERING NEONS

White + Neons create a brighter color! www.chelseaqueen.com

This is probably the most common layering technique. Neons by themselves are often sheer and apply a bit strange. This green neon by China Glaze (In the Lime Light) is one I’ve had forever, but it looks a little sad on its own! It takes me about 3 coats to get it to be opaque, but it never is quite neon. I added a coat of white (OPI Angel with a Leadfoot), with just ONE coat of the green over it, and it instantly was 100x better and brighter. This trick is mostly useful for neon shades, but try it with anything slightly sheer!

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 2. THE JELLY SANDWICH

Jelly Sandwich www.chelseaqueen.com
The “Jelly Sandwich” is a bit more obscure, but it still a somewhat known layering technique. It involves a “jelly” polish – one that is very sheer and pretty much just has a jelly consistency – along with a glitter you sandwich in between. The OPI Sheer Tint collection looks a little strange on its own, but is so so so useful for easy nail art. For this sandwich, I painted one coat of OPI Don’t Violet Me Down and waited a bit for it to dry. Normally I’m lazy and impatient but for these you need to let it dry a bit! If you paint another coat on too fast it gets goopy and gross. Once that is good, add your glitter. I used China Glaze Shine-nanigans. Add one more layer of your sheer polish and you have a jelly sandwich!

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3. LAYERING NUDES

Layering Nude Polishes www.chelseaqueen.com

Layering nude polishes is something I do all the time while working. When I’m on set for a photoshoot, nudes are really popular and the whole point of them is to look natural. Since everyone has different skin tones, sometimes it involves a bit of layering to get a personalized nude that looks great on someone. For this layering to the left, I wanted to have a pink-er nude, but still not completely pink. I started with one coat of Deborah Lippmann Sarah Smile. It looks alright on me, needs a second coat but I think it would look best on more pale skin. This is where layering is great! The light first coat brings out the second color without it looking too sheer. For this photo, I used Deborah Lippmann P.Y.T. a SUPER sheer pink to layer. I love using this one when someone asks for a “pink-y” nude. I use a nude that matches someone’s skin tone, and then layer this to give it a pink tint.

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4. LAYERING REDS

Layering with Red www.chelseaqueen.com

This version of layering is a bit more obscure as it’s not something I’d really use, but its something to play around with! I have more sheer red polishes than I really know what to do with. I love a sheer nude but with reds I want them really opaque! By layering this grey-taupe color, Essie Chinchilly, under a sheer red, Deborah Lippmann Supermodel, it gives it a much deeper burgundy color. The most interesting polishes to me are the in between colors! This one is a bit difficult to tell in the photo, but in person I felt it was a deep red with a hint of grey.

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5. STREAKY + SHEER

Streaky + Sheer Polish www.chelseaqueen.com
This is my most favorite of the bunch! It is unique and crazy easy, and a way to use those colors you think are really streaky! I started off with one thin coat of Zoya Willa. Normally I really like this black and its fantastic and opaque but I purposely made this streaky and awful looking. I used the same red as my last picture (Supermodel) to layer over it. The sheer red filled in all the streaks! I definitely am going to do this for my next mani.


These are just 5 ideas, but there are tons and tons more possibilities for this technique! It is pretty basic, but I think it’s important…especially if you don’t have many colors or are working and don’t have tons of options with you! Have you tried this technique before? Let me know in the comments.

If you try any of these out for yourself, tag me on instagram/twitter @chelseaqueen and #chelseaqueen.

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Chelsea King
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2 Comments

  • carla March 05, 2015 07.40 pm

    great ideas Chelsea!!! I wouldn’t imagine that the last one was so spectacular!! One thing that I usually do, and it is similar to the third picture tecnique, is to combine a neon with a nude over it, they look like pastels!
    Thank you for sharing your work!! I will definitely try them

    Reply 
  • Cat March 09, 2015 11.33 am

    These are all really great ideas– I don’t think the last three ever occurred to me, but now I’m going to have to remember these for future polishing situations or ideas.

    Reply 

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Chelsea King is a licensed nail artist based out of Los Angeles, California.

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