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 • Nails  • Nailcare Guides  • A Nail Polish Made out of Actual Metal? It Exists, and We’ve Tried it

A Nail Polish Made out of Actual Metal? It Exists, and We’ve Tried it

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Main image – Courtesy of writer

Confession time: I hoard nail polish. Boxes of it. In fact, I still have a train case full of (questionably old) bottles at my parents house, but I digress.

There’s nothing that beats a fresh slick of paint on my talons. In my polish arsenal, I have amassed quite a selection over the years. My faithful Nails Inc and Orly bottles sit amongst US indie brands and intense holographics.

I also live for a classic red nail – so much that I probably have seven different variations of the shade. It’s also worth pointing out that I’m not a nail professional. Just possibly crazy. 

Always intrigued by newness on the market, especially UK based, and independently owned, I recently came across nail polish brand Snail Works recently on a late night scroll and was immediately drawn to their minimalist-with-an industrial-edge aesthetic.

The London based company – founded by designer and inventor, Felix Ure, and brain doctor, Mark Crook-Rumsey, describe their brand as “modern, with a focus of innovation”, something that can certainly be attested to.

The line of hand mixed polishes, housed in covetable aluminum and copper silver bottles (which wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a sci-fi film) includes a selection of classic shades, which claim to provide full coverage in one coat. Amongst the staple shades, you’ll also find Vegan Glow Worm Extract – described as “the worlds brightest glow in the dark polish” – whilst I haven’t tried this yet myself, if the reviews and photos are anything to go by, I’ll be adding this one to my cart soon.


Image – Snail Works


However, the most intriguing polish is Metal Coat – which easily sets itself apart from other silver polishes in the fact that it is formulated from pure metal dust and filings (co founder Ure is also a manufacturer of metal products, and interestingly, the creation of metal coat was birthed by using waste from his other business venture.)

Armed with a bottle, I was ready to experiment with some new heavy metal, albeit on my nails and not on my AirPods today. Alongside the polish, I also had Snail Works custom 1000/4000 nail file –  a duo buffer and gritty file to achieve that reflective ‘actual’ metal finish.


Initial application 

It’s important to note that this is not the type of nail job you’ll want to start an hour before bedtime (admittedly, one of my worst beauty habits). Whilst Metal Coat is touch dry within two minutes, in order to ensure the best application, it is strongly advised to let the polish dry for close to two hours. Two coats are recommended. Thankfully, it is not necessary to wait two hours between each coat. 


Journalist Sara Pollock after applying the polish. Image – Courtesy of writer


In terms of a protective top coat, this won’t do your application any favours, as it’ll add distance between the top layer, and reflective layer, making the final effect less unique and metallic.  As someone with fierce loyalty to their red bottles of Sally Hansen Insta Dri, and a glossy mani, this did fill me with dread. 

My first thought upon application was how I wished other brands designed their brush handles with as much consideration as Snail Works. The texturised handle, whilst weighty, fit snugly in my hand and enabled a precise coating, despite the pretty thick formula, which provided full coverage in one thick, grey coat – instantly bringing back memories of that mid 2010’s matte ‘ugly cool’ nail trend (if you know, you know).


Trust the process

After nearly two hours, it was time for the final reveal – the buffing and polishing stage. I took the smooth side of my 1000/400 file, and gently filed the surface of the grey base to ensure a smooth surface for the polishing stage. It is recommended that this is done in a ventilated area and with extra care – that metallic dust can stain!


Sara’s mani after buffing. Image – Courtesy of writer


After buffing away any uneven areas and ensuring that the grey base was as smooth as possible, I swapped over to the grittier 4000 side (i.e. where the magic happens) I took care to start filing lightly, as I was concerned that by using too much pressure, it may cause the base to crack. As I built up more confidence, I added more force and could begin to see the silver metallic colour revealed.

Not quite the smooth mirror shine I was expecting, but definitely chrome


Sara’s finished manicure. Image – Courtesy of writer


The final stage was a lot less messier than anticipated, and extremely quick. The filing took a few minutes, and was fairly foolproof. Bonus points to me for not destroying any furniture in the process too – however, the metal dust will need to be cleaned off your fingers with a cotton pad unless tinman aesthetic is your vibe. 

A technique that I discovered on my second application – alternating my usage between the buffer and file and swapping over to the reverse side after a few moments and so forth. This really helped to even out the layer out the finish. 


Wearability and removal

With such a thick formula and no protective base coat, I was concerned about the longevity of Metal Coat. Admittedly, as an anxious chronic nail picker, The odds were stacked up against me. On my first application, I did see some corner chips towards the end of the first day which, in all honesty, is pretty normal for me. A great aspect of Metal Coat is that chips can be filled in easily by applying more product and then getting your file out to re-polish the area. 

Another concern was dealing with a gritty, uneven finish – something one would expect without using a sealing top coat. Fortunately, my nails felt rock hard and most importantly, reasonably protected. The temptation to slick on a layer of top cost was difficult at first, but thankfully, my nails felt smooth, which eased this need.  

In terms of the removal, I was anticipating a tricky and long winded process, but much to my surprise, it was a breeze. Much like the application process, the removal was the same as any standard nail polish, and without a doubt, definitely easier than any glitter polish I’ve ever removed. With two swipes of an acetone based nail polish removal, my nails were clean and clear with no leftover residue. 


Image – Courtesy of writer


My verdict 

Image – Courtesy of writer


Although not quite the high shine disco ball metallic silver I was envisioning, I still enjoyed my Metal Coat experience, the process of filling and polishing each nail to my desired finish was somewhat therapeutic in its own way. Whilst I would have enjoyed a more intense mirror shine, the thick gunmetal armour which graced my talons for a weekend was definitely an enjoyable experience – and looked extremely cool paired with a stack of silver rings.


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Freelance Beauty Writer

Sara Louise Pollock is a London based freelance beauty journalist with bylines in Allure, Into The Gloss and NY Mag - amongst many other online and print publications.  She has a penchant for lipstick in fancy packaging and a not-so low-key obsession with 90s magazines. She’s also patiently waiting to be commissioned for a Type O Negative fragrance story.

Expertise: Nails, makeup

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