Friday, April 20, 2012

Holos and duochromes and multichromes...oh my!

So this week I learned the difference between a 'holo' and a 'duochrome' polish.

I have always loved nail polish, since I was a little girl. I loved pretty colors, some of them shiny, some sparkly. That was about as much as I figured there was to it, and it worked for me.

Then about two months ago, I accidentally stumbled onto a youtube video about nail stamping, and all that quickly became  history.

There are lots of different kinds of nail polish, you see. People who are really into polish know this. There are frosts, jellies, shimmers, cremes. Those are all fairly basic, and are self-explanatory for the most part. But, there are also metallics, foils, and chromes. There are prismatics, crackles, and flakies. Neons. Magnetics (yes, magnetics. Polishes that, when you put a magnet over them, create cool patterns). Pearls. Glass flecks. Iridescents. And glitters...ah, glitters. Glitters with fine glitters, small glitters, large glitters, and glitters that have different shapes. 

And of course, holos and duochromes (or multi-chromes).

I promise you, these are not just fancy names for small differences. These are all things that are visible to the typical, non-polish addicted human being. 

I was okay with most of these divisions, but didn't quite understand what a 'holo' was. 'Holo' is short for 'holographic', and essentially it is a polish that creates a sort of 3D effect because of how the light hits the particles. This is somewhat similar to the effect of a duochrome--a polish that changes colors when the light hits it--because you do see changes in color. But duochromes do not have the 3D effect, and from what I can see keep their effect in a wider range of lights. 

No, verbal descriptions didn't really do it for me either, so here are some links to pictures, in two of my favorite polish blogs. The first is a duochrome: the second is a holographic:

To be honest, not even the pictures do holos true justice--they are really beautiful in person in the light. (Yes, in case you were wondering, I did order both of those. Thank you for your interest.)

It's actually a bit more complicated than that--there are linear holos and chunky holos, and polishes with holographic glitter--but let's leave it at that for now.

I became interested in holos when I discovered that some of them can be found on e-bay for the ridiculous price of $95 a bottle, because they sell out as soon as companies can make them. I am abso-freaking-lutely fascinated by the concept of any polish that sells for that kind of money without having real gold as its primary ingredient, so I had to figure out what the deal was. Turns out, this is largely an artificially created phenomenon (I know--have you seen my shocked face?)...there are nice holos that you can buy for $3 a bottle plus shipping that do very well, thank you, and some you can find for around $8 to 12 a bottle (twice what I'm normally willing to pay for polish). But there are some out there that are discontinued or that can't (don't?) keep up with demand, and that go for crazy sums. As far as I can tell, I can't really see a difference in the pics, and from what I've read, the ones that you can find are just as good in terms of coverage, formula, and effect. 

In the meantime, I realized that I have some old-school polishes that do cool effects--polishes I've literally had for 10-15 years. I've always loved them and were sad when they stopped being as popular: Revlon's KhakiZing and Mocha Mirage are two of the ones I've stroked lovingly for years, wearing them only rarely to keep them as long as possible. As it turns out, they are 'duochromes' and there are a ton more such gorgeous options out on the market--just usually not at the drugstore so much. 

So anyway, they say that to stay young you should learn something new every day. I guess I've knocked at least a few days off my life this week. :P



  1. Thanks for the posting! I've just started with nailpolishes and was wondering the exact same thing between duochromes and holos. I think that I may be a bit closer to seeing the difference. :)

    1. It's confusing right?! I'm glad the post helped at least a little bit. :)


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