9 Best Iridescent Nail Polish Colors

iridescent nail polish, opalescent nail polish, opal nail polish, opalescent nail polish

Iridescent nail polish evokes the magical shifting colors of fire opal and moonstones, the smooth inside of seashells, and shimmering of faerie wings. Let’s get magical with the best iridescent shades of 2021.

See the end of the article for more info on how iridescence works and how to tell it apart from other shimmers like multichrome nail polish.

What Are the Best Iridescent Nail Polish Colors?

opi pearl jammin nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • True iridescent
  • Can be worn alone or as a topper
  • Quick drying
Price: $5.58 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Image of iridescent flakie nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Can control color with base polish
  • Fire opal effect with flakies
  • Cruelty-free
Price: $12.50 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
four shimmer nail polish bottles Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Four mini polishes
  • Seashell shimmer with holo glitter
  • Non-toxic
Price: $16.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Opi nail polish blue Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Shifting mermaid blue
  • Hint of micro-glitter
  • Doesn't need bright lighting
Price: $10.50 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Red glow nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Gives fire opal effect
  • Can control the color with base polish
  • Support indie brands
Price: $12.50 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
iridescent nail polish, opalescent nail polish, opal nail polish, opalescent nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • True iridescent
  • Works alone or as a topper
  • Long-lasting formula
Price: $13.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
iridescent nail polish, opalescent nail polish, opal nail polish, opalescent nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Stunning metallic sheen
  • Doesn't need perfect lighting
  • Luxury brand
Price: $9.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
ilnp valentina nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Worn alone or as a topper
  • Unique jelly iridescent
  • Cruelty-free
Price: $10.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Image of pink iridescent nail polish Amazon Customer Reviews
  • More subtle
  • Warm, shimmering pink
  • Cruelty-free
Price: $8.78 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Pearl Jammin’ by China Glaze

    Pros:
    • Ultra light blue tint with copper shift
    • Works alone or as a topper
    • Opaque in three coats
    Cons:
    • Formula can be streaky
    • Does need three to four coats to be opaque
    • I find China Glaze bottles harder to open

    You know that super crinkly cello paper you get in gift bags that’s clear but has a brilliant shifting iridescence? That’s what Pearl Jammin’ reminds me of. By the way, in the nail community, we call that paper unicorn skin because why not. Pearl Jammin’ by China Glaze is a barely blue sheer with a bright copper and pink flash.

    While it is extremely sheer on its first coat, this lacquer builds up to be opaque in three coats, four if your coats are very thin which I don’t recommend because this one has a tendency to show brush strokes. This can also be used as a topper to add a light blue tint and shimmer. If you’re looking for a true iridescent without too much pigment getting in the way, try out Pearl Jammin’.

    VideoVideo related to pearl jammin’ by china glaze2018-10-22T11:58:20-04:00

  2. 2. Wonderland by ILNP

    Pros:
    • Pearly opalescent effect that shifts depending on base color
    • Easier to remove than glitter
    • Vegan
    • Long-lasting
    • Supports indie brand
    Cons:
    • Not for wearing alone
    • May have to fish for flakies
    • Not as cheap as others

    Wonderland is part of ILNP’s Real Magic Collection and the way it shifts and reflects flecks of bright greens, blues, purples, and reds just like an opal–feels magical. I don’t mean to flood you with ILNP brand, but they do iridescents so well that I can’t resist.

    This is a flakie topper so it’s not really meant to be worn on its own. The way this topper looks will depend on the color you swatch it over. Over black it creates this gorgeous blue and green iridescence but over white it has more of a pink tone. It’s versatile and a fun way to spruce up your current nail polish collection.

    I like that it’s vegan and that since they’re flakies, you don’t have the same struggle to remove them like you do with glitter polish.

  3. 3. Mermaid Nail Polish by Born Pretty

    Pros:
    • Almost duo-chrome shift
    • Holographic micro-glitter
    • Four polish colors
    • Colors change over different base colors
    • Non-toxic
    • Cruelty-free
    Cons:
    • Longer shipping times
    • Mini bottles
    • Takes a few coats when worn alone

    For a mermaid shimmer that looks like the inside of a seashell, check out this set of four mini polishes from Born Pretty. They have a creamy, almost multi-chrome shimmer effect and have a sparkle of holographic micro-glitter as well.

    The colors are a little sheer but can be worn alone or over a base color. Different base colors will create different effects so you can get a huge number of looks out of these four bottles.

  4. 4. This Color’s Making Waves by OPI

    Pros:
    • Shifting colors of mermaids’ tails and ocean waves
    • Opaque in two coats
    • Extra sparkle of microgitter
    • Looks great in any lighting
    Cons:
    • Can go on a bit streaky
    • Can show brushstrokes
    • Can show nail ridges

    Swinging to the other end of the spectrum, this highly pigmented teal polish may not be what you think of when you think of iridescent, but it’s a great example of the types of iridescence that you find in nature.

    Think butterfly wings and the shiny polished emerald backs of jewel beetles. OPI’s This Color’s Making Waves has that mermaid’s tail color shift from teal to deep ocean blue.

    The formula is easy to work with and, though sheer on the first coat, it’s opaque in two coats. As I seem to find in all metallic jewel polishes, it can show brushstrokes so just keep that in mind when applying. There is also some bronze micro-glitter in this to give the shimmer an extra boost and it reminds me of sun glinting off the ocean. I don’t know why I bothered explaining it any other way. This looks like the ocean.

    VideoVideo related to this color’s making waves by opi2018-10-22T13:12:48-04:00

  5. 5. Scarlet by ILNP

    Pros:
    • Color depends on what’s underneath it–ruby to opal
    • Vegan and cruelty-free
    • Only one coat needed
    • Easier to remove than glitter
    • Long-lasting
    Cons:
    • Not for use alone
    • Won't look as good without great lighting
    • May need several coats

    Scarlet is an opalescent polish by ILNP and part of their Real Magic topper collection, so I wouldn’t recommend this is you want something you can wear all alone. But, if you love the look of loose iridescent flakies and haven’t had good luck using them in practice (or have avoided even trying) this topper is a good way to get a similar effect. It’s called Scarlet for good reason because it truly has a warm red glow. 

    It has a red to gold to fuchsia gradient over black that is mesmerizing to look at both in perfect lighting and in the shade. Layered over white, the effect is more like an opal with bright aquas, rose gold, and pink. The color it’s layered over really changes the look so you can have a lot of fun experimenting.

  6. 6. Pearl of Wisdom by OPI

    Pros:
    • Pink pearl shimmer
    • Works as a topper or as a sheer on its own
    • Long-lasting with Infinite Shine top and base coat
    Cons:
    • Can go on a little streaky
    • Best with Infinite Shine system
    • Not opaque

    This very sheer polish by OPI has a satiny white look to it that swirls with purples and pinks and greens when you turn the bottle in the light. When worn alone on your nails, it takes two to three coats for the color to build up, and when it does you get this iridescent shimmer that reminds me of pink pearls.

    For a lacquer that looks very white in the bottle, on your nails it’s definitely more of a strong pink to gold. Pearl of Wisdom isn’t going to be opaque even at three coats so if you’re okay with a sheer, then enjoy this subtle shimmer on its own. You can also layer it over your favorite polishes to give them a hint of iridescence. The formula is okay but does show brushstrokes so just be mindful of that.

    Pearl of Wisdom is part of OPI’s Infinite Shine system which has its own base coat and top coat and is meant to have the staying power of gel polish without the UV lights so this polish will work best with those. It won’t actually last as long as a gel manicure, but when you use the system as directed, your manicure will last longer and be more chip resistant.

  7. 7. Iridescent Eye by Jessica

    Pros:
    • Peridot with emerald and yellow gold
    • Easy to work with formula
    • Seven-free
    • Bright chrome-like shine
    • Wonderful even in low light
    Cons:
    • Can go on streaky
    • Can show brushstrokes
    • Not classic iridescence

    Iridescent Eye by Jessica is riding the line between an iridescent and a chrome. I like it as an iridescent because you tend to be able to see several shades of the gradient at once instead of the sharper shift of duo-chromes.

    That said, this is a shiny polish. This is not for the faint of heart or people who prefer neutral polishes. This is a peridot gemstone with shifts of emerald and gold. As I’ve said before, you have to be careful with brushstrokes with these types of formulas, but it’s absolutely worth it. I like that this one is still stunning even in low lighting and in the sun it absolutely gleams. It’s a perfect, fun color for fall.

    VideoVideo related to iridescent eye by jessica2018-10-22T13:32:35-04:00

  8. 8. Valentina by ILNP

    Pros:
    • Milky teal shifting to pink and gold
    • Works alone or as a topper
    • Long-lasting
    • Three free
    • Supports indie brand
    Cons:
    • Not opaque on its own
    • Not as flashy as others
    • Needs good lighting for effect to show

    Valentina from ILNP is a translucent polish that can be worn on its own or as a topper. It’s an almost minty, baby blue tint with an iridescent flash of rose gold and pink. The formula is a very sheer jelly that nearly disappears at one coat if worn on its own.

    ILNP straight up states that you’re not going to get this one to be completely opaque and I’m okay with that because the color and shimmer builds well. With two to three coats you have a creamy aqua with a bright pink flash.

    As a topper, this one can turn any polish iridescent while being sheer enough to only impart a blue tinge without completely obscuring your bottom color. I have had good luck with ILNP lacquers being long-lasting and chip resistant.

    For more minty shades check out the best polish for pastel green nails.

    VideoVideo related to valentina by ilnp2018-10-22T13:37:27-04:00

  9. 9. Pink Fire Opal by Mineral Fusion

    Pros:
    • Subtle opalescence
    • Unique pinky orange color
    • Four free
    • Cruelty-free
    Cons:
    • Fairly sheer
    • Can be very orange in some lighting
    • Longer drying times

    Pink Fire Opal brings is a gorgeous pink iridescence with a color shifting shimmer. The opalescent look of this polish is subtle in some lighting and stunning in others.

    The gold flash of the iridescence tints the pink of this to almost more of a coral. It’s a sheer polish so you’ll need a couple of coats if you’re looking for full coverage or you could try it as a topper.

Shift those colors.

Color shifting nail polish (and makeup) is all the rage right now, but not all color shifting polishes are the same. You've got colors that change with temperature, colors that change in sunlight, holographics, duo-chromes, iridescents, and just plain shiny glitter. Problem is, thanks to marketing, they're often mislabeled.

Shiny.

We all love shiny things. With how fervently I'm about to rave about color-changing nail polish, I don't want to neglect to say that traditional glitter is awesome. Glitter reflects light, kind of like a mirror. Some glitter is also holographic, duo-chrome, or iridescent.

Mood nail polish.

This is nail polish that changes color depending on the temperature of your fingers. It's generally a gradient that shifts from one shade to another shade as temperatures rise and fall.

Holographic.

Be still my heart. Unlike reflective glitter, holo refracts light. An example of this happening naturally would a rainbow. Yes, holographic nail polish creates tiny rainbows on your nails. That's an important distinction because the other color changing polishes have a limited number of colors they can shift to. Polishes must have full rainbows to be holographic.

Duochrome.

Also called multi-chrome or chameleon, duo-chrome shifts between two to three colors as you view it from different angles. This also works by refraction but in a different way. Small treated flakes suspended in the polish refract light, bending it into a specific color wavelength instead of breaking normal white light into all the colors of the rainbow. It's sort of the love child of holo and iridescent.

Iridescent.

Finally, the star of the show. Like glitter, iridescence is a result of reflection, but like duo-chrome it shifts between a limited range of colors. It may look rainbowy, but it isn't a true refraction.

The pretty language: Iridescence is like unicorn dreams and mother of pearl. It's the shimmering blue of butterfly wings and the swirling colors of soap bubbles blown into the wind.

The science language: When light hits an iridescent surface, some of the light waves reflect off the surface, but some of the light travels further into the barely translucent surface and then hits something else and reflects off of that.

These beams of light are reflecting off different levels of the polish and the separate wavelengths act in concert to strengthen each other, kind of like if you give someone on a swing a push on every swing, they'll go higher and higher even if you aren't pushing harder.

These magnified waves of light create stronger, more brilliant pigments than normal colors which gives iridescence its radiant sparkle effect that seems to glow.

To make these color pop, even more, make sure you're using a high gloss top coat. Check out my other guide to find the best top coat for you.

See Also:

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