Sheer VS Opaque Nail Polish: What's the difference?

Sheer VS Opaque Nail Polish

Whether you're a nail aficionado or just dipping your toes (or nails!) into at-home mani-pedis, it’s no secret that the right nail polish can make your look. The possibilities are endless but there are two main finishes to choose from: sheer and opaque nail polishes.

What Are Sheer Nail Polishes?

Sheer nail polishes are translucent lacquers that enhance your natural nails while providing a subtle touch of shine. The see-through finish is intentional: these are formulas that are as effortless and understated as they appear, and are typically characterized by their thin consistency. Some offer a watercolor tint, others feature subtle shimmers or a pearl finish. (Glitter nail polish tends to be sheer, too, featuring a confection of confetti that sits in a clear or lightly tinted base that allows the glitter to take center stage.)

The versatility of sheer polishes makes it worth having a few options within your nail wardrobe. You can wear these lakurs on their own for a barely-there, natural look or use them as a top coat to infuse other nail colors with a milky-soft sheen. Not to mention: sheer nail polishes are incredibly forgiving. If you’re new to DIY manicures or want a polish you can paint in a pinch, sheer shades always look good.

A few of our most-loved sheer lakurs include:

What Are Opaque Nail Polishes?

In stark contrast, opaque nail polishes are nail lacquers that provide full, solid coverage, completely concealing the natural color of your nails. They’re formulated to deliver intense pigment with a vibrant finish no matter the shade: be it nude or a rich, lipstick red, opaque polishes create a striking finish that gives your hands a polished and perfected look.

Opaque nail polishes come in a few finishes. You can go the traditional route with a high-shine, full-coverage crème, or go bold with a metallic. Maximize the shine with a clear top coat, or transform it completely with matte top coat or glitter-infused confetti topper.

So: Sheer or Opaque?

If you're partial to subtlety or want to add a little oomph to your natural nails, a sheer polish is the way to go. If prefer coverage or want to make a statement, full-coverage crèmes are for you. But sheer or opaque, the choice is yours: simply choose the lakur that best suits your outfit or mood.

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