Even for the person who doesn’t wear nail polish often, it’s easy to be sucked into the world of color-coated nails, so much so that you end up lost and confused over which color you should use, the differences in polishes, and the best ones for you. If you’re sitting at home staring at your nails with the need to paint and the confusion of what brand, color, and polish you should use, you’re in the right place!
Best Nail Polishes: Contents
Best Nail Polishes Overview
- Best Overall: Essie Nail Polish
- Best Gel: Sally Hansen Miracle Gel
- Best Long-Wearing: OPI Infinite Shine Long-Wear Lacquer
- Best Plant-Based: Nailtopia Bio-Sourced, Chip-Free Nail Lacquer
- Best Fashion: Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Color
- Best Base Coat: Nails Inc. NailKale Superfood Base Coat
- Best Non-Chip: Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish
- Best Drugstore: Zoya Nail Lacquer
- Best Splurge: Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Nail Colour
- Best Top Coat: Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat
- Best Glitters: Static Nails Liquid Glass Nail Lacquer
- Best High-Shine: Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer
- Best Non-Toxic: Sally Hansen Good. Kind. Pure Vegan Nail Polish
- Best Quick-Dry: Essie Expressie Quick-Dry Nail Polish
- Best Dip Powder: Red Carpet Manicure Color Dip Nail Powder
- Best Universal Shade for Natural Nails: Dior Nail Glow Nail Enhancer
- Best Matte Top Coat: Sally Hansen Big Matte Top Coat
- Best Gel-like Finish: Butter London Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer
- Best Shade Range: Sally Hansen Insta Dri Nail Color
- Best Strengthening: China Glaze Nail Lacquer
- Best with No Base or Top Coat Needed: Orly Breathable Treatment + Color
- Best 10-Free: JinSoon Nail Lacquer
- Best Budget: Revlon Nail Enamel
23 Best Nail Polishes to Buy
From the most affordable to the longest-wearing and more, you can find the best nail polishes to buy below.
With a dozen bright, neutral, and wearable shades to choose from (with deliciously fun names), the Essie nail polish easily scores with options. The style of the brush allows it to be applied easily with no smudges, and while it may take longer than some polishes to dry, once you’ve done two layers and added a top coat, it lasts for around two weeks! Purchase the color of your choice at Ulta or Amazon!
For $9.99, you’ll find yourself stocking up on various shades of this gel polish. Sally Hansen has 74 colors for you to choose from! The lovely thing about this polish is that unlike getting gels at the salon, you will not need a UV/LED light to cause this polish to set. The drawback? To get the true gel polish look, you will also have to purchase the top coat for another $10… but then the average gel at a salon costs $40, and you can do this at home for half the price while rewatching Bridgerton for the – oh! I’ve lost count. Purchase it at Ulta or Amazon for gloriously shiny nails!
While slightly higher priced than the aforementioned options (though not the highest), this nail polish is long-lasting (three weeks, no chips long-lasting). The color options come in a range of reds, pinks, purples, blues, neons, and more, so if you are on the hunt for bright, fun, non-traditional colors, this is going to be your vibe. Find your shade at Ulta or Amazon!
77 colors. $10. Completely plant-based and eco-friendly. Honestly, this nail polish has left me speechless. It will last a week before chipping and needing another coat. While it may go on slightly sheerer than other nail polishes on this list, it dries faster, and the knowledge that this nail polish is cruelty-free and without any harmful chemicals makes up for it. Head to Ulta for your bottle!
What do you think of when you think of Chanel? The interlocking C logo or perhaps the iconic black dress so many of us have in our closets? Odds are, you didn’t realize that the Chanel beauty line extended to nail polish. And oh boy, do they! The variety of nail colors may not be as intense as some of the other brands, but it will still provide you with a glamorous look. The polish goes on easily, dries quickly, and looks tres chic in your bathroom! And the price tag… it isn’t as pricey as the nail polish splurge will be (number 9, if you can’t wait) but is still up there at $28. If you need to think it over, head to Nordstrom or Chanel!
Base coats are an excellent way to help strengthen and protect the nail before applying any polish. Nails Inc. has blended various ingredients from superfoods into this antioxidant base coat with keratin hardening not only to create a healthier nail, but longer ones too! While the smell can be strong, the health of your nails will increase and help provide an even finish when applying your nail polish color. Purchase it at Sephora!
Nail polish chipping, then the need to reapply, let it sit… it’s the bane of existence. Nobody wants the nail polish they just applied to chip only days (or hours) after they put it on! Thankfully, it seems that Deborah Lippmann was in agreement and seeking out the answers while we were all quadruple layering our polish. She invented the best nail polish that fights against chipping, is vegan, ten-free, and provides the gloss of a gel mani! At Sephora, you have the option to choose the finish you want – gel, shimmer, high-shine, crème, or metallic are all options.
The first time I was introduced to Zoya’s nail polish was at my local nail salon. Being partial to red nails, I loved shade options! This is the best nail polish that you can pick up quickly at a drugstore and paint your nails before a date. The polish goes on smoothly, there are dozens of shade options, and it is long-wear, chemical- and cruelty-free! Pick it up at Ulta or Amazon!
Yes, your Louboutin girl dreams can come true without spending $800 on a pair of shoes (not that we’re judging if you do… just let us borrow them?). While this nail polish is $50 for 0.4 oz – the average size, the bottle, styled like a calligraphy ink set, and the colors do happen to be gorgeous! Perhaps you thought you could only purchase the signature red? Nope, Louboutin does strive for inclusivity – there are many lovely colors, ranging from blues, purples, blacks to (of course) the signature red. Purchase your favorite at Nordstrom or Net-a-Porter!
Already have the color you’re absolutely enamored with and don’t want to give up, as it chips a bit too often? Head straight to Amazon to purchase a bottle of this top coat. Not only does it dry any nail color quickly in just 30 seconds, but also it makes the polish last two weeks and masterfully seals in your favorite colors. Also, the UV filters contained in the formula protect the nail color from fading.
Rihanna may not have given birth to the trend of all-glittered nails, but she definitely helped to popularize the style. Static Nails makes it easier than going to a celebrity manicurist with cool glitter color options easy to purchase at Nordstrom. The glitter might make it slightly clumpier than you might be used to, so have a good top coat on hand to gloss over it. The line also contains glitter-free nice shades, and each bottle features antioxidants to strengthen, lengthen and hydrate your natural nails.
For some, the shinier the nail, the better – this is a category I definitely am in! When attempting to get your nails to the shine level you love, people often coat on more and more polish, making the polish chunkier, harder to dry, and more difficult to take off. Instead of struggling with that, head over to Revolve or Net-a-Porter and pick up Smith & Cult’s nail lacquer. These are the best nail polishes that are all about easy-to-apply, vegan, cruelty-free, long-wearing, quick-drying bright color options (with fun names that rival Essie’s) and the shine that some have spent so long looking for.
When choosing the best nail polish for you, it’s important to check the ingredient list to see if any chemicals you don’t want on you have been added in. Sally Hansen, however, has stopped you from the need to look up the names of chemicals that can hardly be deciphered. This vegan nail polish can be bought on Amazon or Ulta, and instead of being 10-free, it’s 16-free! The polish itself comes in lovely colors and won’t need to be reapplied for at least four days.
Designed to be faster than most other quick-dry polishes, this Essie line comes in a range of gorgeous color shades and lasts for up to two weeks. It’s perfect for the person who doesn’t have time to sit and let their nails dry for too long. The brush is even-angled to allow for easier application with your non-dominant hand. Coming in a slim bottle, it’s even easy to take on the go! Pick it up at Amazon or Ulta!
Dip powder for nails isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, but it’s one taking the nail world by a storm. And why not?! It lasts longer than regular nail polish, has a smoother finish, and can be shinier (or completely matte). Red Carpet’s dip powder comes in varying shades of pinks, purples, and more. When purchasing the color of your choice from Amazon or Ulta, remember that you will also need a base coat, activator, and a top coat, which are available as a kit also at Ulta. For removal, use 100% acetone nail polish remover.
Maybe you love the look of your natural nails but want them to be a bit healthier? Or perhaps have a healthy glow to them? Dior seems to have the same urge as you, which is why they created the best nail polish for healthy, natural nails. Not only will it increase the shine of your nails, but also it’s excellent for the busy person because it can be applied quickly and dries even quicker! Purchase yours at Nordstrom or Sephora!
A few times in this article, the mention of matte top coats has occurred: this is the finish that will change the silk-like shine of the polish to a flirty, velvety finish. Being Sally Hansen, it dries quickly and is easy to put on. Just be aware that the matte will need to be applied every few days because the shine of the polish below does like to (ahem) attempt to outshine the matte. Purchase on Amazon for a pack of one (or two!).
Anyone in the desperate need to fulfill their gel nail polish dreams without buying multiple nail polish bottles? Look no farther than Butter London, which, like the name, goes on to the nail as smooth as butter! With a range of trendy color options to decide on and 830 ratings on Amazon and still 4.5 stars, this one brings the salon to you.
While Sally Hansen’s miracle gel may have 74 shades to choose from, this line focuses not only on shades of a few colors but of every color, including glitter options! And even more of a bonus? It’s quick-drying, so if you’re busy, this is the best nail polish for you. Pick up at Amazon or Ulta for $5.59.
Sometimes our nails get weak, whether it be through work or athletics, and need a bit of strengthening. If you simply can’t abstain from painting your nails and are a die-hard painter, then this is the best polish for you. Coming in 35 different colors, it’s a 7-free, long-lasting formula. The brush has extra fibers, which makes it even easier to apply too. Pick out your shade at Amazon or Ulta!
Maybe you’re painting your nails in a hurry or just don’t feel like cluttering up your bathroom with extra products, so you have no desire to purchase a base and a top coat. Then this nail polish was destined for you! It’s easy to apply, comes in 21 different colors, and lasts for a week. Due to the fact the polish is oxygenated, it can be somewhat messy to apply, but this does allow for breathability. Purchase yours at Amazon or Ulta!
Did the entirely plant-based option of number 4 pique your interest but not hold it? Perhaps JinSoon’s nail lacquer will do the trick. 10-free is a nail polish that is free of 10 chemicals that can be found in nail lacquers: formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, triphenyl phosphate, parabens and lead. It goes on easily and gives a beautiful shine without any of the chemicals that we don’t want near our skin. Pick yours up at Revolve or Amazon!
Are you too thinking of Revlon as the nail polish that your grandmother hoarded in her beauty drawer? Stop doing that, she has a point! Revlon’s nail enamel may come in not so many shades and takes a bit longer to dry, but it’s $4, lasts a week without chipping, and the price explains why everyone should head over to Amazon and find a color they love.
What to Look for in the Best Nail Polish for You?
Let’s face it: with so many options out there, finding the nail polish that is perfect for you can be difficult. To help guide you in your nail color journey, take these tips into account.
Choosing the Right Color
Finding the perfect nail polish color can sound like picking out clothing, attempting to not only find the one with the best function but the best style. Yes, seriously! Consider your skin tone and season when buying one.
- Fair skin works best with lighter colors such as pastels, oranges, purples, and reds.
- Medium/ olive-tone skin is able to get away with just about any color but gold. The most complementary might be in the red and pink family, but if this is your skin tone, have fun playing with all the colors!
- Dark skin, contrary to popular belief, will pair best with other dark colors. Trying brighter colors tends to wash out the skin. The best colors would be deep blues and purples but play around and have fun!
Next, you may want to consider the season you are in. For instance, sunshine yellow nails in the dead of winter don’t exactly go, but if you’re missing the sun, feel free to bring it to your nails!
If you want to go even more detailed into seasons and colors, you could always choose a Pantone trending color to paint your nails. If that happens to be too much information, remember – pastels for Spring, neons for Summer, neutrals for Autumn, and dark for Winter! And if all else fails, remember to fully paint one nail and see what you think of the color.
Finding the best long-lasting nail polish can seem like it will take a lifetime or an insane amount of money, that is if you wanted to personally try out each of the options. If you’re striving to find the longest-lasting, best nail polish possible then you have started in the right place. Read the reviews of products, pick the ones that sound best and try those out. That will save both time and money (and try out number 3 on our list)!
Depending upon how hectic your life is, you may not have the luxury to have your nails spend a few hours air-drying. If you need to speed up the process, the best bet is a quick-drying top coat, but other options range from waving your arms in the air – away from any objects that might smudge your nails – or positioning a fan nearby for setting the manicure or pedicure in front of.
Some nail polishes have more chemicals than others. Some are completely natural, others might be plant-based but not cruelty-free. Depending on your comfort level on different topics and any allergies that you may have, it’s always a good idea to look into the brand and the ingredients before purchasing.
Finding the Shine for You
This is all about the top coat that you choose.
- If you want something that’s excessively shiny, then picking up a gel top coat (one that doesn’t require LED/ UV lighting!) is the best choice.
- Sometimes the go-to for a person is a matte – then the idea of having nails that shine isn’t one for them. In this case, a matte top coat can be applied to both dull the shine of the color (but not the color itself) and strengthen it against chipping.
- The final option for nail shine would be a more medium. This often comes from simply applying less of the top coat than one might normally do and not buying something that raves about its shine level.
Hopefully, this was helpful, and happy nail painting!
Photos via Instagram