15 Best Color Changing Nail Polishes

Why pick one polish shade when you can have color changing nail polish for seemingly magical nails? See the end of the article for the many types of color changing effects, like multichrome nail polish, and the science of how they work. Please note, these are all regular nail polish but there are many color changing gel nail polish options if that’s what you’re looking for.

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Color changing nail polish can mean a lot of things. The first thing most people think of is mood polish which changes in response to temperature but the color changing catalyst can also be sunlight or even just the angle at which you're viewing the polish. Let's go over the types of color changing nail polish you'll find in this guide.

Thermal or Mood Nail Polish.

Think mood rings. This kind of polish is made with leuco dye which is transparent at warmer temperatures but opaque when cold.

Solar Reactive Nail Polish.

In solar nail polish the lacquer contains tiny crystals that become chemically excited by UV radiation--also known as sunlight. When they're removed from light, the crystals more slowly calm down again and become invisible.

Multi-Chrome Nail Polish.

Multi-chrome is something else entirely. It sometimes called duo-chrome or chameleon polish. This is a polish that appears as one solid color, but if you shift the angle of your hand a few inches it becomes a completely different solid color without needing any change of temperature or sunlight.

The pigments in multi-chrome polish are reflective and settle into layers on your nail with certain pigments lower than others so when the light hits the nail surface one way it's one color. When the light hits it at a slightly different angle, the light is reflecting off a different layer of polish making it show a totally different color.

Holographic Nail Polish.

Holographic is a little bit of a controversial pick for color changing nail polish, but I think certain ultra-holographic polishes meet the criteria. Holographic nail polish isn't reflective like a mirror--they're refractive like a prism.

These polishes take normal white light and break it down into tiny rainbows. That is literally color changing so I'm including one in this guide.

  • What about gel mood polish?

  • These are the best color changing nail polishes that don't need a LED or UV nail lamp, but there are actually way more options for color changing gel nail polish than standard polish.

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