So we’re smack in the middle of summer. Summer is great for many reasons, not the least of which is wearing neon nail polish! Actually, summer is pretty much the only season in which you can wear neon polish without looking… What’s a nice way to say “trashy”? (You are entitled to disagree with me, but that’s how I feel.) Anyway, since we are in the season of neon, I figured it was a good time to talk about how we can all sport the most eye-searingly neon nails as possible.
Have you ever purchased a beautifully bright bottle of neon polish that you just couldn’t wait to put on your fingers? You didn’t want much, just for your nails to be as bright as the bottle of polish. Then once you got it on your nails, it was disappointingly drab. It was streaky and see-through, and matte and just didn’t look like anything in the bottle. It was a sad day.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you CAN have nails that are just as brilliantly bright as the polish appears in the bottle, and for the most-part, there’s just one really important step that you need to take before you slather on the neon polish…(Drum roll, please.)… You need to paint your nails white first. A lot of neon polish has a pretty shear formula. Those “highlighter yellow” polishes almost always have a really transparent jelly formula. Because of that, the only way to get the true color to show up is to make sure it’s on a white background.
And you need to take your time and paint your nails really nicely with the white polish. Since the neon polish is tends to be shear, any streaks or missed spots in the white polish are going to show through the neon layer, too. Generally, two good coats of white will make a great base for your neon polish.
There are other bloggers out there (many of whom I like a lot) that claim that painting your nails white first should not have to be a requirement, and the nail polish companies need to step up their game and make true neon polish that doesn’t require a white base. I say that those sentiments are all well and good, but the truth is, your neon nails will generally be a heck of a lot brighter if you just take the extra 5 minutes to put down a nice white base.
So, let’s get to some examples. Here are the polishes that I tested:
I arranged them nicely in rainbow order and took this picture in natural light to try to show the colors as accurately as possible. Starting with the upper left, the colors are:
- Sally Girl #812157
- Sally Girl #812158
- China Glaze – Thistle Do Nicely
- LA Colors – Hottie
- Sally Girl – Crazy
- Spoiled – Did I Dye It Too Blonde?
- Broadway – Sour Apple
- China Glaze – Turned Up Turquoise
- Nina – Blue Blaze
- Sinful Colors – Dream On
One each hand I painted my:
- First finger: 2 coats of neon polish on bare nail
- Middle finger: 3 coats of neon polish on bare nail
- Ring finger: 4 coats of neon polish on bare nail
- Pinky: 1 coat of white polish followed by 2 coats of neon polish
- Thumb: 2 coats of white polish followed by 2 coats of neon polish
I did all of these swatches while watching The Bachelorette. In retrospect, I should have done them during the day so that I could have photographed them in natural light. It’s really hard to capture neon colors on camera as it is, and I think artificial light makes it even worse. I should also point out that I am fully aware that my paint job on some of my fingers is pretty crappy. I was mostly concerned with getting them all done before Andi gave out her final rose.
Here we go…
Sally Girl #812157:
This picture is really deceptive. The color is a crazy bright pink, and with this particular color, it is SO much more vibrant over white.
Sally Girl #812158:
This is a neon bubblegum pink. This one is actually just fine without a white base, as long as you do at least 3 coats.
China Glaze – Thistle Do Nicely:
A hot pinky-coral. China Glaze makes some really great neon formulas, and this is one of them. Three coats without a white base looks great.
LA Colors – Hottie:
This is actually a bright coral. This may not be a true neon, because the formula dries glossy instead of matte. Three coats of this looks good without white underneath.
Sally Girl – Crazy:
Traffic cone orange. This picture is a little deceptive. Without white underneath, it remains a dingy orange. A white base makes the color blinding!
Spoiled – Did I Dye It Too Blonde?:
This highlighter yellow is the color that most obviously benefits from a white base underneath. On the pinky, you can see that the streaks from the thin coat of white show through. I love how this looks on the thumb! You definitely need two coats of white under this and then 2 coats of yellow, but the trouble is SO worth it! You can stop traffic with these nails!
Broadway – Sour Apple:
This color sure looks neon to me, so I was surprised that it dried glossy. An amazing formula for a polish that costs $1! Three coats without white and you are good to go.
China Glaze – Turned Up Turquoise:
I LOVE this color! This formula is great, so you don’t need a white base. This is not a typical neon color, but it is part of China Glaze’s neon collection. This looks really cool with it’s matte finish, but there is a greenish shimmer in this polish that really shows up when you put a shiny top coat over it. This color, along with the last two, are actually colors that you can get away with wearing year-round. Did I mention that I love this color?
Nina – Blue Blaze:
Again the color in this picture is really deceptive. I decided to include this color, because like most neons, it dries matte and it really is a bright electric blue in person! It’s sort of irritating, but this color applies much more smoothly when it is not over white, but the color is much brighter when it is over white. I think I’ll have to play with this one a little more to get it just right.
Sinful Colors – Dream On:
This neon purple looks okay if you do 4 coats on it’s own, but a white coat underneath just makes it pop.
And here’s my little trash can by the end of The Bachelorette:
You can see some of my husband’s peanut shells underneath. He feels that it is important to shell and eat peanuts while he watches baseball on TV. So, as long has he doesn’t complain about the nail polish bottles that are strewn all over our house, I won’t complain about the peanut skins that land on the carpet. The things you do for love.
What are your thoughts on applying a white base under neons? And what are your favorite neon polishes?