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The Editors Try Matte Nails

Will a manicure still shine without its classic luster?

A fresh manicure is a ritual treasured by many of us ladies. Whether a bold, moody hue or a delicate, neutral pastel, looking down at our hands and seeing some shiny shellac always gives us a boost of confidence. But what happens when you take away the sheen? Ah, yes, the very trendy matte manicure. If you’re like us, the idea of a fresh manicure with a purposely dull finish gives you pause.

So to see if matte polish looks as chic and modern as our Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards would have us believe, the Verily editorial team decided to give it a try. Here’s what we thought.

Krizia //

“I tried both Sephora’s Formula X and Butter’s matte topcoats over my favorite nail polish, a pale mauve color by Essie called ‘Ladylike.’ At first, it looked and felt weird to me, almost like it had less personality (I missed the eye-catching shine!). I think I just wasn’t used to such a flat look. But I started to like it more the more I looked at it.

It felt understatedly chic in an odd way.

I think you have to put it on both hands to make an accurate judgment. I tried the matte look three days ago, and I have to say, I’ve grown to like it even more since! It’s starting to look a bit more like satin (there is now a slight sheen as if I put oil on my nails and wiped it off), which adds a little more dimension. I’m excited to see how it looks on my other nail polish colors. It’s a great look for fall, I think.”

Lilly //

“I was 100 percent positive I’d love matte nails. But I actually ended up hating it! I used Sephora’s Formula X over a coat of dark maroon Revlon nail polish. Once the matte polish did its thing, it made my nails look like I had dried blood all over them (ew). Great for Halloween but not so great for my everyday look.

I think the key to making matte work is to have long nails, and I always cut mine super-short, so it didn’t look as high-fashion as I thought it would.

Also, after three days of wearing this polish combo, my polish started chipping—quite short, as usually I can go a week before I see chipping. I’m giving this look a matte thumbs down. Give me my shiny nails back!”

Kara //

“I’m not terribly trendy with my nails—no nail art here!—but I have to say that I’ve been intrigued by the matte nail idea for a while. I tried the Butter Matte Finish topcoat and, although I was skeptical that I would like it, was pleasantly surprised. In its function as a topcoat, this actually stood up pretty well.

I threw a party the weekend I wore it, and between all the cleaning, light-hanging, and general wear and tear from using my hands a lot, my manicure still looked pretty good at the end of the night.

I would call the finish more flat than matte though—with a light color on, it basically looked like my natural nail, no polish at all. I much preferred that look on the darker nails I tried, as I felt like it had more of a distinctive look that way. I’ll be doing this one again!”

Mary Rose //

“My matte nail polish experience was mixed. I painted Sephora’s Formula X matte topcoat over alternating colors of light gray and light blue, and I found that the subdued matte look worked best with the gray—it seems the more neutral the better. Perhaps this is because the look itself is almost at its core an understated one, taking the shine out of your traditional polish. I wouldn’t wear it to your big night out; for me, it’s almost intentionally going for the ‘I’ve had my nails polished for a few days now and didn’t do anything special for this occasion’ look, right off the bat.

It’s the no-makeup makeup for nails, if you will—the no-polish polish.

Even if the nail polish hadn’t chipped three days into wearing it, I probably wouldn’t make matte my go-to look. Suffice it to say that I prefer my photo prints with a matte finish; not so much my nails.”