September 13, 2023
Holographic polish is often the "gateway drug" for many of us when it comes to nail polish. Whether it be mainstream or indie, it is hard not to be captivated by that shining rainbow dancing across ones fingers. All it takes is one manicure to get hooked. But what is it? And how did it start?

As far as I can find out, Spectraflair was invented back in 2002 by a company called JDS Uniphase Corporation. They were a Milpitas (Silicon Valley) based company that specialized in "...optical communications networks, communications test and measurement equipment, lasers, optical solutions for authentication and decorative applications, and other custom optics..."  Basically, lasers and laser accessories. In 2015 a split created Viavi Solutions, which, among other things, makes Spectraflair, anti-counterfeit technologies, and motion sensing technologies (like the xbox Kinect). 

What is it, though? Well, it is an aluminum flake covered in magnesium flouride. The type of rainbow we see is dictated by the size of the flakes; fine, standard, and coarse. I tried looking up the process, called PVD, by which holo is made...but that is way above my head, science wise. I am 75% convinced that it is only a few steps away from tearing a hole in time-space. 

The earliest mention of holographic pigments being used in nail polish was back in 2007. Chanel Holographic was sent down the runway and everyone lost their minds. By 2009, a Danish brand called GOSH had released a beautiful and notoriously fussy silver linear holographic. After that, it began popping up on polish blogs with instructions on how to make your own top coats and where to purchase the pigments. The Great Layering began for many of us at that point. I know I was seeing it over every shade imaginable.  By 2011, brands like OPI (the DS series!) and A-England were releasing collections with multiple polishes graced with different sized holo particles. A revolution was being born. Not only in the new-born Indieverse, but in nail polish in general...does L'Oreal Masked Affair ring any bells? Holo paved the way for duochromes, multichromes, all the things we love most about nail polish.

Holographics have evolved from thin, gray rainbow generators into a rainbow of colors, finishes, and effects. Back in 2012, when I was first introduced to the magic of holo, I don't think I could have even begun to fathom where we would be just a decade later. Any time I wear a holo, I always get "normies" stopping me to look at the magic. One glimpse is all it takes for a lot of people to become hooked on the holo.

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Links & Sources (visit at your own risk)

  • https://musicalhouses.blogspot.com/2009/12/gosh-holographic-nail-polish-notd.html
  • https://www.viavisolutions.com/en-us/osp/products/spectraflair#overview
  • https://www.prettygirlscience.com/2012/09/spectraflair-is-my-new-favorite-word.html
  • https://patents.justia.com/patent/8911546
  • http://www.pointlesscafe.com/2012/05/silver-holo-comparison-which-one-is.html
  • https://www.anothermag.com/fashion-beauty/1884/holographic-nail-lacquer-by-chanel
  • https://www.ecfinc.com/pvd-methods-explained
  • https://www.pcimag.com/articles/83637-pigments-offer-a-new-family-of-colorants-based-on-diffractive-effects
  • https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/jdsu-sees-sales-drop/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viavi_Solutions
  • https://www.coatingsworld.com/issues/2011-11/view_raw-materials-amp-equipment/jdsu-introduces-high-performance-and-cost-effective-pigment/
  • https://polishandpigments.blogspot.com/2011/09/the-arrival-of-spectraflair.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physical_vapor_deposition