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17 Best Holographic Nail Polish: Your Ultimate List

The only thing better than nail polish is holographic nail polish. I said it. Regular glitter nail polish reflects light which is pretty and all but holographic polish refracts light–that’s exactly how rainbows are created. Holographic polish can be anything from knock-your-socks-off dazzling to subtle holographic nude nails.

Ready to start painting your nails with rainbows?

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How Do Holographic Nails Work?

Normal glitter creates a shine by reflecting light that hits it the way polished metal would. But when light hits holo nail polish, it doesn't just bounce the beam of light back, it refracts the light. 

When light is refracted, it's bent, fracturing the light into all the wavelengths of color in white light creating a rainbow. It's the same thing that happens when light passes through water droplets to create a rainbow as the USGS Water Science site explains.

Glitter or Scattered or Linear Holo Nail Polish?

There are three main types of holo you're going to come across: holo glitter, scattered holo, and linear holo.  

Holographic glitter.

These polishes are tiny specks of holographic material suspended in a clear or colored nail polish base. Generally, the multicolored spangles these polishes produce are large and irregular, like your nails being covered in diamonds.

Scattered holo.

Scattered is a type of holographic glitter, only much smaller. Scattered holo polishes go on smooth like non-glitter lacquers and don't have large, distinguishable shapes that you could point out as being the holographic parts.

They're called scattered because the rainbow effect is irregular, like sunlight dancing over the surface of the ocean.

Linear holo.

This one might be my favorite. (It's so hard to pick!) These lacquers go on smooth like scattered holo but the holographics slot in together like puzzle pieces forming a fully covered holographic surface.

Because they are so lined up and close together, all the little rainbows work together to create a larger rainbow. When you move linear holo in the light, you can see the bands of a rainbow moving over your nails.

So Anything that Changes Color is Holographic? 

Not quite.

Color changing nail polish can be holo sure, but it also could be anything from an optical illusion to a chemical reaction in response to sunlight or temperature.

Multichrome nail polish shifts color in the light but they don't make rainbows. Iridescent nail polish can look like they're full of many colors, but don't actually refract light. 

The best way to experience holo is in motion so be sure to check out any swatch videos.

Can't I Just Buy My Holo Nail Polish at Walmart?

I get the urge to just pick something up while you're at the store, but places like Walmart or drugstores are very limited in what they carry and don't tend to sell smaller brands which is where some of the best colors are coming from these days.

I've pulled together the best of the best across the internet which includes many American indie brands that are family-run small businesses. You're not going to find that at Walmart. 

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