Nail Fanatic's Glossary

Feel free to contact me if the word you are looking for is missing, I'm happy to add it in.

References used for research: MUA, TPF, The Blue, Facebook, Reddit
First published March 18, 2012 - continuously updated.

I've created an alternative view on white background here. Please do not copy/paste my list but feel free to share the link to it.

3-Free - Nail Polish that is made without the use of: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), or Formaldehyde.

4-Free - Nail Polish thatis made without the use of: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, or Camphor.

5-Free - Nail polish that is made without the use of: Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Camphor , Formaldehyde, or Formaldehyde Resin

10, 15, 20 and all free - Really anything beyond 3-free is a marketing scheme and many of the the ingredients listed have: never been in nail polish, are no longer used since more than a decade, or very rarely found in polish.

Alex - a style of Ikea Furniture that comes in a variety of things such as desks, drawer units and shelving.

Bad Word Break - A break at or above the nail line, the kind with no free edge. (made up by Jenna)

Bag Method - When you cannot decide between several polishes for your next mani. Place them in a bag together, close your eyes and pull one out and that's your next mani!

Balls - Stainless Steel mixing balls used in polish bottles.

Blurple - A Blue Purple colored nail polish

BNIB - Brand New In Box (this is not specific to our community, the first place I saw this was on ebay.)

BNNU - Brand New Never Used (this is not specific to our community, the first place I saw this was on ebay.)

BNWS - Brand New With Seal. (this is not specific to our community, the first place I saw this was on ebay.)

Boobies - NfuOh nail polish bottles

Boutique - Nail polish which is designed and sold by an individual but is sent to a lab to be manufactured. Our community views these as a sort of in between indie and mainstream type of polish because it is not mass produced.

Cap/No Cap - Cap is defined as an upper limit. The word is used to specify how many of a particular product is available when it is a limited product. No cap means there is an unlimited number of the product available.

Chrome - Nail product finish that is reflective like a mirror, although often skewed you can clearly see things in it. Think of chrome on car trim or a motorcycle exhaust pipe.

Chunky - Big pieces of glitter which are "chunky" as compared to others like micro glitters.

Cinderella Hand - The hand that does all the work and gets none of the credit. (ie: non-swatched hand/dominant hand/non-famous hand)

Clean up - Cleaning up skin and cuticle area of nail polish. The Megan Chair method is very popular for this.

Crack - Crackle style nail polish, it cracks apart after application leaving a crackle effect.

Cream - A polish finish, which is glossy, opaque, and creamy. (Over the years, these have started being marketed using the word Crème.)

COTM - Color of the Month, typically used acronym when a brand makes a new polish color that has sales of said color only during the month it was made for. Some brands sell beyond the month if there are bottles left at the end of the month.

Crelly - A finish blend born from a cream and a jelly for the purpose of allowing glitter and flake to show through the base. Squishy like a jelly and builds to cover vnl like a cream. If you were to franken one yourself, you'd mix a cream and a clear polish. The term was coined by the indie polish community, although sheer creams existed prior.

Cuticle - Its not what you think it is!

Dabrushed - A method of painting the nail with glitter polish to get good even coverage and to scoot those big chunks around. It involves both dabbing and brushing at the same time. ~made up by xoxoJen

Decal - When you create a nail art design with polish while on a stamper or a mat and then either let it dry and apply it, or stamp it down onto the nail from the stamper.

Decant - polish from a 15ml full sized bottle that has been decanted into another (sometimes smaller) bottle. This portion of the polish is called 'decant' The intent with this is usually to share a rare polish with a friend.

Destash - When someone sells polish from their own collection or 'stash' second hand, they are 'destashing'

DISO - Desperately In Search Of

Dry Brush - A nail art technique adapted from tole painting where excess polish is wiped off on the neck of the polish bottle, leaving the brush 'dry' and then used for nail art. It creates a weathered, grunge or graffiti style look.

Dry Marble - Using a silicone mat as a surface, polish is dotted or striped and then 'marbled' with a pointy object and left to dry, and then applied on like a decal.

Double Stamped/Stamping - Stamping one image on top of another for a cool effect.

Duochrome/Duochromatic - one single pigment that shifts between two different hues. (see multichrome for more than two colors)

Dupe - An exact replica of another polish. Exact color, exact glitter shapes and sizes - if there are any differences its not a dupe.

Dusty - A store that has older nail polishes that are "dusty" from having been there so long. Many a treasure is found at dustys!

ETA - Edited to add (this is often used to more obviously signal that a facebook post has been edited and what was added in the edit) or Estimated time of arrival Enablers - Those evil nail board folk who encourage you to buy more polish!

Funky French - French manicure done with colors other than the traditional white tips and pink/nude base.

Fimo - a type of clay used to create sticks with designs rolled into them. They're then cut into very thin slices and used to glue on nails for decoration.

Flakie - a very thin, flexible jagged cut/shredded material, much like glitter but not nearly as rigid. These come in a variety of colors and finishes. They're easy to remove, not like glitter removal.

Float the brush - using a nice thick layer of topcoat/polish so that there is no need to press the brush while painting, it just floats over the liquid. This technique is used most often to avoid smearing nail art while top coating it.

Foil - A type of polish finish that looks like foil when applied. Very shiny, reflective, metallic looking and opaque.

Foil Method - best way (other than a peel off base) to remove glitterbombs. Acetone soaked cotton or felt placed on the glitterbombed nail, covered with foil and left for 5-10 minutes.

Franken - mixing custom polish from existing polishes, preferably while saying "Mwah-ha-ha, it's alive!"

Free Edge - the edge of the nail that is not attached to skin.

Foil - Nail product finish that is very reflective, almost like chrome but it is in pieces so shapes cannot be made out very well. Not brush strokey. Think of the shiny side of aluminium but crumpled up a little.

Glass Fleck - Before the indie flakie craze, there were clear or tonal flakes (not glitter) in a jelly or crelly base that our nail community referred to as glass flecks because they looked like glass. The base was so packed, they covered VNL fairly well in just a few coats. Don't take my word for it though, All Lacquered Up has an entire post discussing these at her blog.

Gel Polish - Typically requires UV light to cure and is said to last up to two weeks. Some brands have used this term differently to describe a regular nail polish. Be sure to read packaging so you know what you're purchasing. The type that does not require UV light is typically just a super shiny and almost plump super glossy style of polish.

Glequin - loose hex glitter applied in rows and patterns like sequins.

Glitter - a hard plastic which is not flexible, usually comes in matte, holo, metallic, translucent, and the most common is hex shaped. It come in many other symmetrical or artistic shapes such as apples, moons, or kitty heads. It does not lay flat on the nail and is usually difficult to remove. Check out my foil method if you're struggling with glitter removal.

Glitter sammich - The application of various glitters sandwiched between jelly polish.

Gradient - When several shades are blended on one nail with a makeup sponge to go from a dark version to lighter version of the same color, to blend through different colors, make a sunset style background for nail art. The difference between this and ombre is this is multiple colors on one single nail and is sponged on or blended with a brush.

Glitterbomb - Glitter polish layered so that its opaque and on all ten nails.

Gravender - A Gray-lavender colored Nail Polish

Greige - A Greyed Beige colored nail polish

GU - Glitter Unique, an online supply shop for indie polish making

Haul: ... of shame! - Purchases of polish. Up in here we buy in bulk.

HAZMAT!!!! - Inside joke that stemmed from discussion about shipping nail polish and it being a hazardous material. This is the appropriate response to the "No Time" comment.

Hella Handmade Creations (HHC) - A third party vendor who curates exclusive polishes from indie brands and sells them all on one platform for a limited time. The shop is stocked with new polishes every month and they take about a month to ship out to customers.

Helmer - a drawer unit made by Ikea furniture

Holmer- A helmer purchased from Hobby Lobby

Holo - (holographic) Brilliant colors that shift with light, resembling the colors formed by refraction of light through a prism. Holo polishes come in many different forms.

Holo (linear) - Linear holos are made of a very fine pigment. Linear is when you can see the holo in a curved 'line' of each color on your nails just like a real rainbow. (EP Awesomeness is a linear holo, though my photos don't show it off very well)

Holo (scattered) - Not a glitter but fine powder finish and loosely scattered holo. The particle size for these is typically a little larger than the linear holo, but its still not a glitter. (ATC Risen Angel is an example)

Holo (glitter) - Individual glitter pieces that shift holographically on the nail. These typically range from fine in size up to large chunky glitter pieces. (UL 7 Wonders is a holo glitter)

Holy Grail or HG - Like the old Indiana Jones movie, a prized and precious item. Often used by nail fanatics to describe their favorite top and base coats that work best with their chemistry to prevent chipping. "found my HG top and base"

Indie - In the nail polish community, this word typically means the polish is handmade and not necessarily to do with the type of business it is.

ISO - In Search Of. (see also DISO.)

Jelly - Colored polish that is transparent and colored, it looks like jelly or stained glass. It has no milkyness to it and will not cover vnl (unless of course it is a super dark shade and then it will be difficult to see vnl even with one coat of it applied).

Leadlighting - Stained glass effect achieved by using transparent tinted polish with a stamped outline image (usually black). Can be painted on top of or on the back of the stamped design.

Lemming- A nail polish you want so badly that you'd consider giving up your firstborn for it.

Lobster hands - When a nail color clashes with your skin tone & makes your hands look red. (common issue with green polishes)

Mainstream Brand - Retail store brands that are mass produced and not handmade (indie) or boutique (made in a lab in limited quantities).

Mannequin hands - a nude color that matches your skin tone and causes your hands to look like a Mannequin's hands.

Matte - a nail polish finish that is flat and not glossy.

Megan Chair Method - Megan Chair is the first blogger who published the clean up method of using a makeup brush dipped in acetone to clean polish off skin and cuticle area. Her original post was at MUA forums in 2009 but all the images have been removed.

Melmer - A helmer purchased from Michaels

Metallic - Nail product finihs. It is very much like foil, only this one can be brush strokey at times and is probably closer to a shimmer where a foil is more chrome like.


muggle - Taken from the Harry Potter book series and morphed a bit for NB use. A person who does not understand the Nail Polish Enthusiast, an outsider.

Multichrome/Multichromatic - one single pigment that shifts through three or more hues, often referred to as looking like an oil slick.

Nailgasm - Self explanatory I believe!

Mule - See Polish Fairy

Nailspiration - nail inspiration, what NB is for

Nail Tape - Liquid latex used as a barrier when doing messy nail art, also used by swatchers as a peel off base coat.

NB - MUA Nail Board

NIL - Nex In Line. This is often used when claiming items for sale that you missed out on. If the original requestor's deal/sale falls through, you may the next opportunity at purchasing it. Commonly used in the NNR facebook group sales threads.

Nip cream - Nipple Cream or 100% Lanolin. Used as cuticle cream by many nail boarders.

NNR - Nearly No Rules, a facebook group for second hand polish sales

NNR - Not nail related. An acronym used at the beginning of a post sometimes to alert nail polish group members that the topic is not related to nails/nail polish.

No Buy - When a person vows not to spend money on nail polish for a period of time.

NO TIME!! - see Hazmat

NOTD - nail of the day

Nubbins - very short nail length, barely any free edge.

OGUP- see Unicorn Pee.

Ombre - Painting each nail in the same hue, but graduating from dark to light. ie; thumb dark purple, index med. purple, middle purple, ring light purple, pinky lightest purple. This is not the same as a gradient.

OOAK - one of a kind

Peel Off Base - exactly what it sounds like. A base coat that peels off. Examples of these are Unt, Latex, Yellow Stopper, Elmer's glue.

Polish Fairy - A person that purchases nail polish on your behalf and then ships/delivers it to you. This used to be called mule.

Polish Pick Up (PPU) - A third party vendor who curates exclusive polishes from indie brands and sells them all on one platform for a limited time. The shop is stocked with new polishes every month and they take about a month to ship out to customers.

Polished Gamers Box (PBG) - A third party vendor who curates exclusive polishes from indie brands and sells them all on one platform for a limited time. The shop is stocked with new polishes periodically and they take about a month to ship out to customers due to the nature of the pre-sales business model.

Pond Manicuare - A technique where a design is layered with a jelly polish which results in a look with depth like looking into a pond. Olive View Fashion created this look and first posted it on reddit calling it 'flowers on a pond' which is where this style gets its name.

Pourn - Vidoes usually created by makers that show polish being poured into a nail polish bottle.

Prugly - a made up word created as a cross between pretty and ugly. Often used to describe olivey/brown polishes.

Reflective / Reflective Glitter / RG / Reflective Pigment - Under the sun, a direct/bright spotlight, cell phone light or using camera flash this glitter appears to light up just like the reflective paint on a highway. It’s a lot more sparkly than glitter or glitter bombs in general and has a texture kind of like sand. Can be difficult to remove in large quantities. (contributed by Danielle Gordon/facebook)

Reverse Stamping - When your image is directional and you make a mirror image of it by way of transferring it from one stamper to another stamper and then onto the nail to get the reverse of the original image. This term is frequently used to describe a decal, which is an entirely different thing but worth mentioning since it appears that now very few use the term as originally intended.

QDTC - Quick Drying Top Coat. Fairly self explanatory, typically dries to the touch in ten minutes or less and is then safe to go to sleep without risk of sheet marks on your nails.

Ridge Filler - A creamy base coat, sometimes with silk fiber or other ingredient that fills nail ridges for smooth polish application.

RIS - Received in a Swap

Ruffian- Kind of a backward French, however the curve follows that of the Lunula. This is often done with bright and dark colors.

S-flair: Spectraflair, a linear holographic pigment used in many Frankens and indie polishes.

SABLE - Stash accumulated beyond life expectancy

Sandwich style - Alternating layers of polish and/or top or base coat. Ex. Base (I like to use Gelous for this), polish, Base, polish, Base, Top coat

Secret shimmer - Shimmer that shows in the polish bottle but not so much on the nail. A lot of companies add this to create depth of color on the nail.

Shimmer - a very fine particle reflective pigment used in nail polish to create a subtle sparkly finish, a shimmer polish.

Sheet marks- evil markings from sheets on a fresh mani caused by having gone to sleep before completely dry.

Shred (Glitter Shred) - Just like glitter but they look like flakes. Some have sharp edges, so please be careful when wearing these. When the edges stick up out of my polish, I file them down (right on the nail after dry) then topcoat again for a smooth finish.

Shrinkage - When nail polish shrinks away from either the free edge or cuticle area of the nail. Seche Vite is often said to cause this to happen.

Skittles or Skittle Mani - Each fingernail painted in a different color. Brights and pastels are often used for this style.

Smurf fingers - when your cuticles, skin around your nails, nail plates and fingers get stained from removing a blue (or often green, but Smurfs are blue) polish.

Solar Polish - changes color with UV light.

Spam - A lot of pretty polish or bottle photos all in one post, it's a good thing!

Squishy - often used to describe a jelly or crelly type polish.

Squoval - squared oval shaping for nails

Stamping Polish - a polish specially formulated for stamping. They are typically opaque and of thicker viscosity to allow a slightly longer dry time.

Sticky Base - A base coat the dries somewhat sticky, meant to adhere nail polish better for longer lasting manis. Often used on top of polish to ensure a stamping design transfers from the stamper to the nail.

Swatch - A photo of polish applied to the nail or a nail wheel to show others what the color/finish looks like.

Swatched - When trading/selling this term is often used to indicate the polish is not new and has been used. Be sure to ask the seller if they don't indicate how many nails its been swatched on because all of us have a different definition. It can range anywhere from one nail to all ten.

Taco - When glitter curls up so much its unusable. (It looks like a taco.)

Tape mani - A style of nail art that uses Scotch tape to mask off part of the nail and/or get a straight edge to create a design.

TAT - Turn Around Time. This is the length of time it takes for a company to pack and hand off your package to the shipping service. TAT does NOT include the in-transit time of the shipping service.

Telmer - A helmer purchased from Target

Texture polish - a finish developed and marketed by Zoya in which the nail polish has a sandpaper like textured finish.

The Angry Vag - Scrubby Tub or Up and Up NP Remover Dip, these are jars with sponge or brush soaked in acetone. Used for easy nail polish removal.

Thermal - A polish that changes color with temperature.

Thirsty - When a top coated glitter polish basically eats the topcoat so there is no longer a glossy finish. This occurs as the topcoat/mani dries. Adding another layer of topcoat will usually fix the issue and result in a glossy shine.

Tipwear - When polish has worn off at the free edge.

Trigger Mani - Painting the thumb and index finger the same color and then using a different color on the the rest of the nails.

Troll - Instigator, not welcomed at the NB.

UCC Flakes - Ultra Chrome Chameleon flakes that are metallic but soft and easy to remove. They shift through colors like multichrome pigment.

Ugly bottle syndrome or UBS - pigments (titanium oxide/white) sink and stick to the bottom and sides of the bottle. It doesn’t usually affect the appearance of the polish on the nail. Underwear / Undies - A color painted under a sheer color to make it opaque and hide VNL

Unicorn Pee or UP - The original color shifting pigment used in Clarins 230. It shifts from red to gold to green and is no longer for sale, as it is being used in currency. Polishes containing UP are coveted because of their rarity. Some community members refer to this as OGUP (original gangster), but differetiation is not needed as the new similar pigment is referred to as aurora.

Untried - A polish in your collection that you have not 'tried' or worn yet.

VNL - Visible Nail Line, often seen through jelly or sheer polishes. This is the line at the end of your fingertip that meets the free edge. AKA, the smile line

Water Decal or Water Slides - Tiny designs printed on water transfer paper and used as nail art.

Water Marble - A style of nail art that uses a cup of water and polish to create a marbled effect.

Wrapping the Tips - When apply nail polish to the edge of the nail this is called wrapping the tip. It's not necessary with regular polish and came about when Gel polish became popular as a means to further 'seal' the gel polish onto the nail.

YNBB - Your Nails But Better

Please do not copy/paste my list but feel free to share the link to it.
References used for research: MUA, TPF, The Blue, Facebook, Reddit
First published March 18, 2012 - continuously updated.