CHROME - The finish that makes your nails look like metal. Well, as close as it gets without wearing falsies or getting a Minx manicure. This finish is smooth and almost mirror like, but no, you won't be able to see yourself in it. Examples: Maybelline Mirror Image, Stargazer Chrome, China Glaze Khrome Collection.
On photo: China Glaze Millenium.
CRACKLE - Crackling polishes are basically layering polishes, since they won't work on their own. Once they're layered over another glossy polish, they crack and create different patterns. Examples: Depend Cracked Effect, China Glaze Crackle Glaze, OPI Shatter.
On photo: Depend 5011 over black.
CREME - I'd say this is one of the two most popular finishes. It gives you a solid, glossy color without shimmer, glitter or any other additions.
On photo: China Glaze Grape Pop.
DUOCHROME - Polishes with duochrome finish shift between two or more colors, depending on the angle of looking at it. Examples: Chanel Peridot, Gosh Purple Heart, Essence Where is the Party, Hits Mari Moon Collection.
On photo: Stargazer 307.
FLAKIE - Flakies, flaky polishes... as the name says, these polishes contain flakes. Flakies are usually bigger than shimmer and are of irregular size and shape. They're often combined with other finishes - duochrome flakies, flakies in creme/jelly base. Examples: Nfu Oh Opal Series, Sally Hansen Hidden Treasure, Nubar 2010, Zoya Flecked Effect.
On photo: Nfu Oh 51.
FOIL -Foil polishes contain small, dense metallic particles. It gives you a metallic look, similar to chrome finish, but not as smooth. Examples: Orly FX Foil, Color Club Foiled Collection.
On photo: Gosh Silver.
FROST - Frost finish could also be described as pearl finish. It contains really small shimmer that appears as frost. Frosty polishes are usually the ones that have visible brush strokes. Examples: China Glaze Frostbite, Essence Where is the Party, Essence Barefoot Through the Moss.
On photo: Constance Carroll Apricot Sun.
GLITTER - The family of glitter finish has a lot of members. Glitter comes in different sizes and shapes (round, square, hexagonal, bar...) and it can be combined with different bases (creme, jelly, clear). Examples: China Glaze Ruby Pumps, Kleancolor Chunky Holo Black, Wet n Wild Black Magic.
On photo: China Glaze Emerald Sparkle.
HOLOGRAPHIC - Some people often confuse holographic with duochrome (ahem, Essence people). The best way to recognize a holographic polish is to look at it when the sun hits it - you'll see a rainbow of colors. Examples: China Glaze OMG Collection, Hits No Olimpo Collection, OPI DS Glamour.
On photo: China Glaze DV8.
JELLY - Jelly polishes are basically cremes with clear base, which makes them look watery. These aren't as opaque as cremes and look somewhat transparent. Some describe the look of jelly polishes as 'squishy'. Examples: Essence Cool and the Gang, Rimmel Sunshine, BPAL Mme. Moriarty, Nars Zulu.
On photo: Priti NYC Dark Warrior Orchid.
MATTE - Polishes with matte finish don't give any shine whatsoever to the nail once they dry. Examples: ManGlaze Matte Nail Polish, OPI Matte Collection, Zoya Matte Velvet Line.
On photo: ManGlaze Matte is Murder.
NEON - Neon finish is a color finish that usually dries to a semi-matte/satin finish. Examples: China Glaze Poolside Collection, Color Club Electro Candy Collection.
On photo: China Glaze Pool Party.
SATIN - Semi-matte or satin finish has some shine, but isn't glossy. It's also called plastic finish. Examples: Orly Plastix, LA Girl Matte Line, Claire's Green Matte.
On photo: Illamasqua Scorn.
SHIMMER - The most popular nail polish finish along with creme. Shimmer is smaller than glitter and bigger than frost.
On photo: Catrice It Blue My Mind.
Sometimes it's impossible to define a polish just by one category. Like with these:
#1 - China Glaze Nova: holographic glitter
#2 - Essence Make it Golden: glitter + shimmer
#3 - Kleancolor Chunky Holo Black: duochrome glitter in jelly base
#4 - Kleancolor Moondance: bar and hexagonal holographic glitter in shimmer-y base
#5 - 17 Nail Xtras Crackle: square glitter in black base, matte, crackle
I know there are probably more finishes, these are just the ones I could find in my collection. There are also categories I didn't add (sheer, nude/mannequin/MNBB), because I think it's more a matter of opacity/color than finish itself.
Did I leave anything out?
Thanks for looking and commenting!