Monday, January 13, 2014

My Favourite Undies: Why Wear Undies?

Just so no one is disappointed, I'm going to point out up front this is not going to be a series of posts about underwear, knickers, or as my English friends confusingly call them, pants. This is going to be all about the part of my nail polish collection that ISN'T glittery, holo, or otherwise spectacular - the humble, but essential undie polishes.

As I mentioned in my introductory series on indie nail polish, undies (in other words, polishes worn under the sparkly stuff) are an essential part of any polish addict's collection.

Firstly, they can help make indie polishes look their best. While putting an extra layer of polish on just for background colour might seem like a pain, it can give you spectacular results. The thing about glitter, is that it only sparkles when the fluid it's suspended in is at least a little bit transparent. And the thing about transparent fluid, is that you tend to be able to see your nail through it, unless you put an undercoat on. Think of it like painting - no serious painter would attempt a work of art without slathering the canvas in a good layer of gesso, to bring out the colours and textures of the paint to best advantage. For some polishes, this under layer is essential. For example, let's have a look at Femme Fatale's (now sadly discontinued) sparkly little gem, Star's Lament. Like a sheer gossamer gown, this looks amazing over black undies. But on it's own, you just look kind of, well, naked.

Left to right, this is two coats of Star's Lament over black, two coats alone, one coat alone, and one coat over black.

This mani is also a really good example of another advantage of using undies - it can make your (relatively) expensive indie polish go a lot further. Without undies, you would need at least three coats to build this up to any sort of opacity. But put a smooth black base down, and you can get away with one coat of the sparkly stuff, meaning a single bottle lasts for a lot more mani's. Star's Lament is a textbook example of what I mean when I say I really feel a polish NEEDS undies in a review, as opposed to just looking better with them.

Not all indie polishes NEED undies, of course. There are tons out there that you can wear perfectly happily without. But personally, I think there are plenty that are at least improved with a solid base coat. For this example, I pulled out Love Thy Polish's No Ordinary Teddy Bear.

From left to right, to coats of No Ordinary Teddy Bear over OPI I'm Not Really A Waitress,
two coats alone, one coat alone, and one coat over I'm Not Really A Waitress.

As you can see, No Ordinary Teddy Bear covers just fine in two coats. I can still see a little bit of my nail through it, but I'm super picky about that and I know a lot of people wouldn't care. But I do think it looks just a little bit better over the OPI red. The solid base helps the glitters really jump out, and covers up any traces of nail that might otherwise annoy me. As with Star's Lament, using undies will also extend the life of this polish considerably - used on it's own, you have to be quite careful about making sure each layer is perfectly even, otherwise the jelly base really shows any lumps and bumps. But over a plain red, you can sloppily swipe just one coat, maybe two, and you're good to go.

Undies are also a fun way of changing the look of a polish, stretching it's lifespan in a whole other way. Different undies can make the same polish more versatile - even one that's quite opaque on it's own. For this example, I used Hare Polish Medusa Luminosa, a gorgeous purple jelly packed with light purple flakies and sparkles of all shades of blue, purple and silver. I have worn it on it's own before, but it took three coats to be truly opaque, and by then it was a little unwieldy. But by putting it over or light purple, I can not only save my polish, but change it from an almost fluorescent lilac to a red-tinged royal purple.

As you can see, undies can really make a difference to a wide range of indie polishes. In my next post, I'll be taking you through some of the undie polishes I consider must have's.


  1. Very useful post. I don't often use undies, I tend to just pile up the glitter nail polish - but then it can end up super thick and chips easily. I will give undies more of a go.

    I read this post before going to sleep last night and then I had dream about picking undies and painting my nails!

    Love Jess xoxo

  2. I have a funny time with undies....I quite often think they ruin the overall effect of a great glitter! Of course, that could just be that my taste in glitters is different to yours. But take a polish like Oceanic Forces, I really hate it over undies because it ruins the luscious deep jelly effect. Interesting post and I love the comparisons!

    1. Personally, I find it almost impossible to get the Forces polishes to sit evenly unless there are undies slim down the profile a bit. But hey, different strokes etc.

  3. Can't wait for your recommendations. I also tend to prefer undies. I stopped using glitter partly because I gravitate towards the cream+glitter effect, but then the glitters don't show consistently. So I think I'll experiment more with undie+jelly, since I always love your nails when you do those.


  4. Also also. I have a mini bottle of Star's Lament, and I've really loved it. The glitters flash disco ball colours in fluorecent lighting, the distraction of which saved me from many work stress moments in OldJob.

    1. I love my Star's Lament so much - so gutted it's discontinued now.


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