Everything You Need To Know About Magnetic Nail Polish

The science behind this mesmerizing nail look.

From cloud-like designs to festive-inspired decals, nail art is endless and exciting. The intricate details and fun colors — what is there not to love? If you’re looking for new ideas, there’s a trend you should have on your radar now: Meet magnetic nail polish.

Before you start worrying about turning into Magneto, take a deep breath. Magnetic polishes simply contain magnetic pigments, which allow you to manipulate the polish with a magnet. The result? You’re able to create a 3D, textured-looking finish.

Celebrity manicurist Mimi D also says that these polishes can often look like velvet nails or super shimmery nails, depending on how the light hits. “Some people have also called it ‘the cat eye’ polish because of the effect,” she says.

Read more: 20 Glitter Nail Designs To Copy For An Eye-Catching Mani

Magnetic nail polish isn’t a brand new invention, but the mesmerizing, velvet effect it leaves on your nails is truly a sight to be seen. Plus, the application process is like a science project that gives you a really fun tactile experience. Each nail ends up with a unique, customized look. If this piques your interest, here are expert application tips, the best brands to try, and the science behind how it all works.

How Does Magnetic Nail Polish Work?

Cosmetic chemist and founder of FanLoveBeauty Ginger King says that magnetic polish works similarly to magnetic lashes and eyeliner. King says depending on the specific formula, most magnetic polishes will use a lot of iron oxide to attract and give off certain patterns.

“Magnetic nail polish creates a depth on the nail because it causes the magnetic pigments to be pulled to the top layer of the polish,” adds nail artist and professional nail polish swatcher Leslie D. “It often gives a galaxy effect.”

Tips For Applying Magnetic Nail Polish

Best application practices differ depending on the type of magnetic polish you use. When it comes to regular, non-gel polish, Leslie D says to magnetize each layer. Once you put the first layer on, you use a magnet to get that galactic look. Add another coat and repeat. “Magnetic nail polishes are also a labor of love, so the more you practice and the more work you put into [it], the better the payoff will be,” she says.

If you’re working with a gel formula, Mimi D says that painting very thin, even layers is key to pulling the pigment in the direction you’d like. Once you get the desired look, you put your nail into the LED lamp. Next, you’ll repeat this process for each layer you apply for the best results.

With any magnetic nail polish, understanding how the magnet works is extremely important. They all react differently. “Sometimes people get frustrated with magnetic polishes and most of that is because they haven't figured out that one side of the magnet works better than the other side,” says Mimi D. “It's best to figure out which side of the magnet works the best with the nail polish you have.”

To test it out, she says to hover it above the polish (don’t touch the nail as that will mess up the application). You can also hover it above different areas of the nail bed to get different types of designs.

As for the pros’ favorite formulas? Leslie D especially loves the magnetic line from Cirque Color. She also recommends ones from indie brands like Lynbdesigns. Mimi D loves Nails Inc. Get Magnetized polishes and OPI gel ones in the Velvet Vision collection, as she says they are super easy to work with. If you’re convinced to try magnetic nail polish for your next manicure, see below for some of the best ones out there. You won’t be disappointed.

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