All nail polish is the same, right? We’re here to tell you it’s not. You can try randomly picking a nail polish that catches your eye or go for the $2 bottle and hope that it works, but why not opt for the best nail polish?
Some nail polishes are just better. Some have better coverage, better color, and last longer. We’ve developed a list of dazzling and durable nail polishes that you’ll love.
1. What Is Nail Polish?
Nail polish is a lacquer that is applied by a brush to fingernails and toenails to protect and decorate the nail plates. It is designed to resist chipping and fading. Nail polish consists of a mix of an organic polymer and several other components.
Nail polish dates back to 3000 BC and started in China. Colored nail polish similar to what we see today did not appear until the 1920s.
Early nail polish formulas were created using basic ingredients such as lavender oil, Carmine, oxide tin, and bergamot oil. It was more common to polish nails with tinted powders and creams and then finish by buffing the nail until shiny.
2. What Is Nail Polish Made Of?
Nail polish consists of a film-forming polymer dissolved in a volatile organic solvent. Nitrocellulose that is dissolved in butyl acetate or ethyl acetate is a common formula.
Plasticizers are added to make the nail polish hard when it dries. Dyes and pigments create the color of the nail polish. Opalescent pigments, such as mica, create the glittery or shimmery look to the color.
Thickening agents are also added to keep the sparkly bits suspended in the polish.
3. What Are the Types of Nail Polish?
There are a few different types of nail polish, including top coat, base coat, gel, and matte.
Top coat is a clear polish that is applied after the nail polish has been painted onto the nail. It creates a hard layer that can prevent chipping, scratching, and peeling. It gives the polish a shinier look and helps keep the polish on for longer.
Base coat is a clear, milky-colored, or pink polish that is used before applying nail polish to the nail. It helps to strengthen the nail, restores moisture to the nail, and helps polish stick to the nail. It also prevents staining of the nail.
Base coats create a smoother surface, reducing the ridges that can appear on unbuffed nails. Some base coats peel off, which allows you to remove the nail polish without using a solution.
Gel polish is made up of a methacrylate polymer. It is painted on the nail but does not dry. Instead it is cured under an ultraviolet lamp or ultraviolet LED.
Gel polish can last as long as two weeks with proper application and home care. Gel polish is more difficult to remove. You have to soak the polish with acetone for several minutes and push off the softened polish with a cuticle stick.
Matte polish has a dull rather than shiny finish. It can be a base or top coat. Matte polish is popular with people who enjoy creating or wearing nail art.
4. Where Can You Buy Polish?
You can buy nail polish at drug stores, grocery stores, department stores, on the internet, and directly from the manufacturer.
How We Reviewed
We considered many factors, including durability, coverage, smoothness, colors, and overall vibe. Some of these brands are new to the market, while others are staples at the nail salon, and for good reason.
We also considered non-toxic brands, a growing section of the product market.
What We Reviewed
- A vivacious chianti RED NAIL POLISH Awards: Sunday Times Style Beauty Awards 2015, Best Beauty Awards 2015
- Draw their gazes with pearly, opalescent coverage with this NAIL POLISH SHADE
- Complete any look with this pink NAIL LACQUER shade so deep, it's almost red, Devious!
If you’ve ever set foot in a nail salon, OPI has been the nail polish standard there for decades. While brands such as Essie might be the younger, cooler Instagram darling of the moment, OPI is a classic that never goes out of style.
OPI started it all in 1981. They have trendy colors with iconic names. OPI, a division of Coty, produces heavily pigmented lacquers that are affordable luxuries, which is why we love this brand.
With its high-quality formula, fashion-forward colors, and iconic names, OPI’s polishes are a great choice. Also, the polish lasts for up to seven days. OPI’s ProWide Brush helps to achieve a flawless application.
With more than 200 shades to choose from for an average price, you can get an OPI for any mood. I’m Not Really a Waitress, a luscious red-pink polish, has enough punch to become your signature color. The color is a perfect red that has depth and substance. It goes with pretty much everything, as it pulls in all sorts of interesting tones.
Whatever color you choose, it might just become your signature color.
Known for its 9-free formula, Jin Soon nail polish impressed us and made our best nail polish list for many reasons. The colors are modern and different from what you might find at the drugstore. Its shiny finish and long-wearing colors also caught our interest.
JINsoon's sleek square bottles contain polishes that do not have five common, yet harmful, ingredients. The polishes also claim to be vegan-friendly.
The polish was named for Jinsoon Choi, a well known nail artist. In 1999, she opened her first Jin Soon Hand and Foot Spa in the East Village. She debuted this nail lacquer in 2012 with shades named for models she worked with.
JINsoon Nail Lacquers are formulated without formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, triphenyl phosphate, or parabens. The polishes dries quickly too.
Edgy and fun, Smith & Cult polish comes in stout and round glass bottles. The polish has an 8-free formula that achieves flawlessly smooth coverage and a great shine.
If you want the best nail polish with a brazen attitude, Smith & Cult offers ultra-high performance formulas that are vegan and gluten-free.
These beauties are guaranteed to be without dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, and triphenyl phosphate.
Smith & Cult nail polishes represent beauty that embraces imperfections. Smith & Cult was created by beauty veteran Dineh Mohajer.
- Deep Blood Red Nail Polish: This glossy shine striking deep blood red nail polish provides flawless coverage and...
- Even, Professional Application: Our exclusive easy glide brush fits every nail size for quick, even, professional...
- The Perfect Manicure: Apply one coat of any of our essie base coats on nails; Follow with two coats of essie original...
As we mentioned earlier, this Instagram sweetheart and drugstore darling knows how to create a stir. But that’s not even the reason Essie is a best nail polish in our book.
The brand offers a ridiculously wide range of shades and finishes. The polish goes on smooth with its easy-to-apply texture.
Essie appeals to nail artists and aspiring artists with its get-this-look instructions.
The brand used catchy, whimsical names to sell its thousands of shades. The brand was started in 1981 by namesake Essie Weingarten. It’s ‘Bikini So Teeny’, a shade of soft blue, was the number one selling trend nail color of all time in 2013.
- 21 days high-gloss wear , On like polish, Wears like Gel, Off in minutes. Mirror shine finish.
- No Nicks, Chips or Smudges. Requires drying under UV or LED Lamp (Cure times vary per lighting system)
- The color would change vibrantly according to how cold or warm of your hands get and would stay that way until the...
AIMEILI is a Hong Kong company that is registered in the US and Europe. AIMEILI means to make beautiful. It’s one of the newer brands of nail polish in the marketplace, but it definitely deserves to be on our list of the best nail polish.
This gel nail polish has won a lot of fans around the world who recognize its good quality.
This temperature-changing color gel polish is made from materials imported from the US, Japan, and Germany. You can buy this product on the brand website, Amazon, or eBay.
We love this polish because it provides 21 days of high-gloss wear. It brushes on like polish, but wears like a gel with a mirror shine finish. You must dry the polish under UV or LED lamp. But the payoff is the color changes according to how cold or warm your hands are.
This polish is a must for people who get bored with the same nail polish for weeks but don’t want to go through the hassle of changing their polish.
Sometimes the nail polish will have an ombre effect, as your hands change temperature. How cool is that?
This one makes our best nail polish list because it’s perfect for busy people who don’t have time to spare to go to the salon.
With this polish, you can literally skip the nail salon but still get salon results. The best part is you can find a bottle of this nail polish at almost any store that sells cosmetics for an affordable price.
You get seven benefits in one bottle. You get a base coat, strengthener with keratin complex, growth treatment, salon-inspired color, top coat, chip-resistance, and a gel finish, all in one nail polish. Talk about a timesaver.
We love the unique precision brush for a flawless finish and Vita Care technology for 10-day wear.
- DR REMEDY CLARITY CORAL RED: Dr's Remedy enriched nail polish CLARITY CORAL RED is bright but soothing; wearable nail...
- NAIL REPAIR: Perfect organic nail polish for the care of cracked, rough, nail discolorations, brittle and split toenails...
- NAIL CARE: This organic nail polish powerfully fights against problems without any discomfort or pain. Gives the nails a...
This polish was founded by Nadine Abramcyk and Adair Ilyinsky, who wanted to create a proper nail salon in the Tribeca area. Today, the duo has six salons that feel like a beautiful apartment.
So when it comes to nail polish with the Tenoverten name, the same level of detail was employed. The polish and nail care line launched in 2011. It has 8-free long-lasting colors, and the polish results in stronger and healthier nails.
The company is not concerned with color trends, but with what their clients want. It offers a unique mix of neutrals, brights, deeps, and metallics. Each Tenoverten polish is named after a street in Downtown Manhattan, and they each embody the essence of the unique neighborhoods that inspire them.
The products do not contain formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, or triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), making them 8-free.
The products are also cruelty-free, vegan, and made in the USA.
- Colour rich pigments provide one stroke coverage
- High shine finish with chip resistant wear
- Contains Hydrolyzed Silk, Horsetail Extract, Vitamins B, C, and E
Next up on our best nail polish list is an award-winning polish line that has a high gloss finish, is chip-resistant, and is free of formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP. Butter London is also fortified with calcium and vitamins E, A, and C, as well as with Pro B5.
Customers love the color and say that one coat and a top coat is enough to have weeks of perfect nails. Even if the polish is a little pricey, the colors are well pigmented and last.
This American brand was taken over in 2005 by British entrepreneur Sasha Muir with the help of Nonie Creme. The 3-Free nail lacquer brand gained a cult following.
- cruelty-free, vegan and free of the major toxins associated with nail polish: formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP),...
- 0.4 oz per bottle
- Côte polishes are proudly made in the USA
The Côte formula is smooth, streak-free, and lightweight. The polishes are also vegan and cruelty-free. Founders Mary Lennon and Leah Yari set out to create the best nail polish by taking the toxins out of nail treatment.
All of Côte's polishes are created free of formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, TPHP, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, parabens, and gluten.
China Glaze lists for an affordable price a bottle, and it's a contender for the best nail polish for the price.
It goes on smoothly (never too thick), it is opaque, and it only takes one to two coats to get the coverage you need.
Made with a special balance of polymers and resins that combine to make it long lasting, chip-resistant (especially with a top coat), and fade-resistant. But, it will not thicken in the bottle.
The Verdict: The Best Nail Polish
The best nail polish is in the eye of the beholder, meaning it just depends what you want from a polish.
If you are looking for a free polish that values fewer chemicals, then the Côte polish is for you. It has the best coverage and colors, although JINsoon came in at a close second.
If you’re searching for the best look for the least amount of money or effort, the Butter London nail lacquer is our pick. On-trend and one-coat coverage - what more could we ask for?
Last update on 2021-06-22 at 16:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API