Magnetic nail polish is a type of fingernail polish that is used to create nail art. Tiny metal particles inside the polish react to small magnetic discs that are held over the painted nails. These discs contain magnets arranged in shapes, such as stars or diagonal stripes, that allow the user to create many different looks. After a nail is polished, while it is still wet, a magnet is held just above the polish without touching it. The magnet pushes the metal particles away according to its design, creating a visible pattern on the nail.
Metallic particles in magnetic nail polish naturally give the nails a shimmery appearance, even if no magnet is used to create a design. Magnetic nail polishes typically come in a variety of colors and include the magnets necessary to create the art. Most polishes come with one or two different magnet designs, and may be sold one bottle at a time or in kits that contain several different colors.
Using magnetic nail polish is slightly different than using regular polish. Most people paint one hand at a time when doing a home manicure. Painting more than one finger at a time with magnetic nail polish, however, lessens the chance that the effect will work. One fingernail should be painted with a thick coat, then the magnet should be held over it for at least 10 seconds while the nail is wet before moving on to paint another finger. After the polish starts to get tacky, the magnet may not be able to move the metal particles through the liquid to create the design.
Though most polishes of this type come with one or two magnet designs, that does not limit the look of finished nails to one or two styles. A star-shaped magnetic, for instance, can be held on the tip of a long nail or the side rather in the center to create only half the starburst on the nail. Diagonal stripe discs can be turned to create horizontal or vertical stripes to create a new look. Someone with long nails and a friend to help may be able to get two different designs on a nail — one at the base and one at the tip — to create a whole new style as well.
To create this kind of nail art, it is important to distinguish between magnetic nail polish and metallic nail polish. Metallic nail polish simply gives the finished nail a shimmering, metallic look. The magnets included in magnetic polish kits typically only work with brands that specifically state they are magnetic rather than just metallic.