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Friday, July 19, 2013

What is a Jelly Polish?

I know that there are some nail polish fanatics who read my blog (waves to my peeps!) but I also know that not everyone who reads Nouveau Cheap is freakishly obsessed with nail polish. For the casual nail polish fan, some of the terminology within the nail community might be a bit confusing, which is completely understandable (I just recently found out what "tacoing" means--if you don't know, it's when a big piece of glitter refuses to lay flat on the nail and folds up on the sides to create a "taco").

So for those of you who are a bit more casual (read: less obsessive) about nail polish, I'd like to take a moment to answer some questions that I seem to get asked quite frequently here, on Facebook and Twitter. Here's everything you need to know about jelly polishes:

What is a jelly polish?

"Jelly" refers to the finish of the polish. Just like with frosts, shimmers, cremes, mattes, glitters, etc., a jelly polish is unique because of how it looks on the nail. On the nail (and even in the bottle) a jelly polish will look translucent and jelly-like. Imagine applying a thin layer of red jello to your nail. That's what a red jelly polish sort of looks like! Some describe this as "squishy," meaning that it looks like you could squish a jelly polish (like jello). Jellies can also contain glitter, shimmer, glass flecks, etc. and still be considered jelly polishes due to their translucency.

How do I apply it?

You apply a jelly polish just like any other polish. The only difference is that you'll need to build up the coats in order to achieve the level of opaqueness you desire. Most jellies are VERY sheer on the first coat but if you want more color, expect to apply three, four or even more coats to your nails.

Where can I get it?

You can find jelly polishes everywhere (drugstores, beauty supply stores, online, etc.). Some easy-to-find jellies that come to mind are: Milani Rad Purple, Sally Hansen Red Carpet and Sinful Colors Kissy. L'Oreal released an entire line of jellies in their Miss Candy Collection (I reviewed two of them here) that you still may be able to find in stores near you. There's also a jelly in their new pink polishes as well (I'll be reviewing that soon!). And of course higher-end brands like Zoya have jelly collections as well--remember I used Zoya Paloma for this manicure?

What's so special about jelly polishes?

Other than looking extremely cool on the nail (well, to me at least!) the best part about jelly polishes is that you can make jelly sandwiches with them! A jelly sandwich is when you apply a layer of glitter polish in between layers of a jelly polish to create a "sandwich." This makes the glitter particles look suspended within the jelly (think of a jello mold with fruit inside). If you have no idea what I'm talking about, her you go:

jelly sandwich example #1

jelly sandwich example #2

For information on the polishes used in these manicures, click here.

OK, I think I got it! But what the heck is a "crelly" then?

A crelly is simply a creme-jelly (I actually refer to these as jelly-cremes, but it's the same thing). Basically, a crelly is a creme polish that has the same type of "squishiness" to it that a regular jelly polish has, only without the translucency. An example of a crelly would be the CoverGirl Glosstini shade Appletini (actually, there are several crellies in that collection).  And just FYI, there are also milky jellies! A milky jelly is a jelly that--you guessed it--looks a little bit milky (but still has the translucency of a jelly). A perfect example of a milky jelly is Wet n Wild 2% Milk.

I hope that answers all of your questions about jelly polishes, and if I left anything out, please leave a comment below and I'll do my best to answer your questions!


  1. Can you give any tips on how to identify jellies, jelly-cremes, and milky jellies in the bottle?

    1. I think that the most you actually own and work with jellies, the easier they become to identify out "in the wild."

      Regular jellies are pretty obvious in the bottle because they look sheer and translucent compared to say, a creme polish (hold a jelly next to a creme and you'll definitely see what I'm talking about).

      Jellies that contain glitter are really easy to identify too, because you can see the translucent, tinted base color that the glitter is floating in.

      Crellies are a bit more challenging to identify, and the same goes for jellies that are a bit more opaque. Sometimes you might need to actually open the polish and look at it on the brush--if you can see the bristles of the brush even when there is polish on the brush, then it just might be a jelly or crelly. But honestly? I have purchased polishes thinking they're cremes and only discovered they were crellies when I actually put the color on my nail. So there's really no sure-fire way to identify all crellies in the bottle.

      As for milky jellies, I think those are probably some of the easiest to identify just by looking at them in the bottle. If the color looks milky and translucent IN the bottle, it's probably going to be a milky jelly.

      Again, the more that you own these types of polishes and use them, the easier it's going to be for you to identify me on that one! :)

      Hope that helps!

    2. A good rule of thumb is if the ball bearing in the polish is visible in the polish, it's usually a jelly (obviously it can sometimes be a sheer).

  2. Fabulous! I would love to see a list of your fav jellies.

    1. Aaah, I would LOVE to, but most of my faves are either limited edition from past collections or harder to find! I'll try my best to put together a list of my favorites that you can still find in stores. Thanks for asking! :)

    2. Please do a jelly faves list!! I would love to see it as well, and even if they are LE there's always eBay ;-)

  3. just had to say that the intro comic was too cute :P

    1. Aaaaaw, thank you SO much! I was hoping someone might get a chuckle out that! ;)

  4. LOVE the intro comic! You explained the properties of jelly polishes really well!

    - A self-professed nail addict :P

  5. G -- I remember reading the original post of yours that the two jelly sandwiches examples came from and absolutely love the concept. Alas, I am still failing at achieving a good application of chunky glitter polishes even though I've had lots of advice from others. One of these days I'll get it right. LOL

    Also, I have WnW's 2% Milk and after looking at your link for it just now I'm going straight to my bathroom and doing three coats of it. It is SO pretty in your pictures but never looked that way with me, probably due to just using two coats. Thanks for sharing!

    BTW, I'm @stepstate on Instagram -- just wanted to make that connection for ya. :)

  6. Not to be confused with a "gelly sandwich" a gel manicure base & top coat with a few coats of regular polish in between ;)

  7. Not to be confused with a "gelly sandwich" a gel manicure base & top coat with normal polish in between :)

  8. Loved reading this. I bought 2 jellies from L'Oréal and can't wait to try Syrup nails!

  9. I love these!!!!! I am an addict that was in recovery for many years. Just got back into the swing of things and I'm Addicted to Jellys. I'm rubyblood on Instagram I'm always stalking your IG for mentions of dollar tree and big lots so I can go shopping!

  10. I didn't realize what a Jelly polish was. I don't think I'll be buying any.

  11. The new Hard Candy polishes taco like crazy.

  12. Any chance of a tutorial? I can't apply them w/o streaks and one has gorgeous glitter in it but you can't arrange it or place it before the polish is drying. Any advice would be great.


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