Holographic nail polish is a really fun thing- it has a light reflecting silver pigment in it that causes the color to shift depending on the angle and the light. Lots of commercial nail polish companies do offer holo shades, though they tend to be pastel shades rather than deep ones. The good news is, you can mix your own holographic polish! Before I go into the how-tos, let me talk a little about holographic goodness.
All holo pigments have a base which is some shade of silver. Some flash more rainbow shades than others. The sparkliest, most fabulous holographic pigment is called Spectraflair and it comes in several sizes. It is made by a Japanese company and used in automotive painting. It is virtually impossible now to obtain the raw pigment since the company has cracked down on sales of the powder. It is not approved for any cosmetic use and they were probably concerned with liability issues, so no more sales to individual consumers.
That being said, you may have some luck getting Spectraflair powder if you go to the Higashi Ueno district of Tokyo, which is where all the motorcycle dealers are clustered. Lots of tiny custom body shops may have some on hand. Just dress tough, use your bad-guy street Japanese, and they just may be willing to part with a bit of the powder. (I realize this info is useless for 99.9% of you guys, but I thought I might just toss it out there just in case.)
If you don’t happen to be in Tokyo, armed with fluent street-type Japanese to get your hands on Spectraflair from the bike shops there, the next best choice is to mix an existing holo polish with regular nail polish. No plane ticket or years of Japanese study required!
I do have an old bottle of OPI DS Shimmer, which is a fine silver holo. It’s from way back in the day, when OPI was still cruelty-free. (Sadly, that is no longer the case, but there are many silver holo polishes on the market.)
So let’s have a little Holo Showdown! I made some holographic polishes by mixing the DS Shimmer with colored polish to make a holo polish, and I’ll show that against the same shades mixed with Spectraflair (shh!).
I used 4 shades: Cuccio Naturale Glaglow Nights (deep green jelly), China Glaze Ruby Pumps (red sparkle), Misa Mermaid Dreams (medium blue shimmer), and Funky Fingers Venom (purple shimmer with green flash). I mixed each of these with half OPI DS Shimmer, and half Spectraflair. Check out the photos below.
This is the result of all that mixing- see the details below. Some shades really looked a lot different with the Spectraflair vs the DS Shimmer, some were more similar.
First of all, these remind me of tiny pickles! I really wish I had a pickle right now…Anyway, with the DS Shimmer, this didn’t change the base shade so much but added a holo touch, but the Spectraflair really lightened this up substantially.
Above is the mix with China Glaze Ruby Pumps. I hoped I’d get something really amazing mixing a holo with glitter, but the result was less than spectacular. Not a lot of difference with DS Shimmer vs Spectraflair.
Mermaid Dreams also doesn’t show a big difference between the DS Shimmer and Spectraflair. The Spectraflair is slightly lighter and more holographic, but not a huge difference. These remind me of tropical seas! Maybe a fun color to revisit for summer-themed nails.
Last up, we have Funky Fingers Venom with the two holo treatments. These did look quite different in real life but photographed quite similarly. The base color lightened a bit and the green flash in the original polish kind of disappeared. The Spectraflair version had a much stronger rainbow.
The Spectraflair does make a pretty nice holo, but I’m not sure it’s worth the humongous trouble to get it. Some folks do sell it online mixed in a suspension base, but I’m not entirely sure I’d use it on directly on my natural nails since this is not a cosmetic pigment. That being said, I think mixing a holo nail polish with a color polish yields pretty decent results and should be enough to satisfy all but the most insane holophiles.
I had the best results with a dark jelly- the Glasgow Nights. I recommend a polish which is a bit sheer in one coat to really let the holo show through. Shimmers and glitters just had too much going on to really let the holo shine. If you want a really dark holo, you’re better off laying a top coat over that dark shade rather than mixing the polishes. But in my humble opinion, almost any holo is a good holo!