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Navigating the world of nail polishes is no easy feat. There's a new brand sprouting up claiming to be toxic-free, clean, and vegan at every turn. Do you choose a traditional lacquer or splurge on the gel equivalent? Why are the polishes at the nail salon not lasting as long as they should? Not knowing what polishing is used at your salons can damage your manicure's wear time and sometimes your nail health. So, before you put the fate of your manicure in the hands of a salon, research what brands are actually worth the investment. What makes a good nail polish brand anyways? Scroll down for 23 nail polish brands that are on the good list.
You know you're in the creme de la creme of nail polish brands when your name needs no introduction. Deborah Lippmann has been the go-to nail artist for celebrities and magazine editorials for decades with a luxury beauty collection that runs the gamut from polishes to skincare to tools.
Take a close look at the names of the nail lacquers and you might find yourself singing LL Cool J's "Around the Way Girl." S.I.S Luxe Lacquer was created by his wife and original muse Simone I. Smith who launched the collection in 2021. Known for eclectic style and eye-catching nail extensions, Smith's color selections are unlike anything you've seen in your local beauty supply.
In 1981, Essie Weingarten had one goal: to help women achieve the "perfect manicure." Weingarten has delivered on that mission since the brand's inception with quality polishes, top and base coats, and even gel formulas at an affordable price point.
You can always find JINsoon products backstage at any fashion week show. Jin Soon Choi set out to create a line of polishes that are non-toxic but still deliver lasting, runway-quality results.
Ever wondered if the perfect nude exists for deeper skin tones? Allow Pear Nova to show you how beautiful all colors and tones look on every complexion. Launched in 2012 by Rachel James, Pear Nova cuts out all the harmful ingredients so your nails can flourish.
Shopping for an Olive and June nail polish is like sending a kid into a candy store. The cult-favorite brand has a slew of colors and finishes to choose from, and shades are also categorized by expert level. Take it a step further and sign up for the membership for exclusive discounts and offers.
You've likely purchased OPI polishes yourself or selected a shade at your local nail shop—that goes to show how relevant the heritage brand is. Born in 1981, OPI has expanded from polishes to acrylics to tools for professionals and beginners at home. “The color opacity is fantastic, and the dry time is great with only two coats. I always have a bottle of Drip Dry to help boost my dry time super-fast and am never without a good cuticle oil," OPI Global Education Design Director, Heather Reynosa, says.
At Tenoverten, less is more. The sophisticated nail polish brand's commitment to toxic-free, quality polishes make you feel good about what you put on your body and makes every manicure a solid 10/10.
"We find sameness pretty f*g boring," Smith and Cult's website reads. The solution? A collection of vibrant, eight-free (free of eight of the main harmful ingredients), chip-resistant polishes that stand the test of time.
Sally Hansen started with nail polishes but its assortment doesn't end there. Each nail product under the Sally Hansen brand is intended to strengthen the nail, from its classic Hard as Nails nail hardener to gel-like polishes to tools for reinforcement.
In the Morgan Taylor world, your expert level doesn't matter. Creating affordable, pro-level polishes free of harsh chemicals or cruelty for years, Morgan Taylor's polishes put everyone at a pro level by delivering pro results always.
Known mainly for its impeccable bags and printed scarves, Hermes expanded its beauty category in 2021 with polishes that are worth every penny. The polishes are made with 71% natural ingredients with a large brush applicator that covers most of the nail in one coat, so a little goes a long way.
Orly's super affordable polishes deliver pigment and lasting shine (or use the matte top coat to tone it down) with two coats. Plus, the brand has a slew of colors to switch between so you'll never be bored.
An Amazon customer favorite, Memeda is the perfect brand to start your nail collection. With basic shades for the color-averse, Memeda offers great coverage and wear for those who love gel but want to skip the in-salon process.
La Par is a pro favorite, and Trenna Seney's go-to polish brand because "it is woman owned and big five free, with no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, BHA or solvents," she says.
With over 18,000 ratings on Amazon, Beetles's collection of gel polishes is a fan favorite for good reason. Beetles polishes are a nine-free formula and have a low odor.
Zoya Reyzis originally created her namesake polish brand as a healthier alternative for pregnant women. Pregnancy shouldn't mean forgoing your favorite nail polishes for bare nails. Enter: Zoya, toxic-free polishes with over 600 shades to spice up any manicure.
First, Chanel created a legacy of chic, exceptional-quality handbags. Then, the historic brand developed a line of iconic, long-lasting polishes for the hands that would be toting those bags around town.
DND is plastered on the walls of just about any nail salon you can find. Not only does the brand make chip-free gel polishes, but the brand also has the matching regular polish for those who prefer either-or.
Another Amazon favorite, Gellen polishes give you the most bang for your buck. Gellen polishes often come in kits and in varying colors to take your at-home gel manicures up a notch.
LeChat has built a cult following for its highly pigmented Dare to Wear line of lacquers that come in just about any shade to match your mood. Another fan favorite of the brand is its Perfect Match line, which offers gel and lacquer pairing for in-between touch-ups.
You'll buy for the name, but a few coats of the Gucci Vernis À Ongles Nail Polish will prove its staying power. Formulated with ingredients like red algae extract and vitamin E, your nail remains strong no matter what.
CND envelopes your nails with a formula that is as nourishing as it is pigmented. Each coat dispenses polish with vitamin E, jojoba oil, and keratin to strengthen your nails while keeping them looking polished and pretty for #nailfies.
What makes a good nail polish brand?
Like any other product, not every nail polish brand is worth the investment. One way to distinguish which brand is actually good for you is to pay attention to the label. "A good nail polish brand is one that lasts and one that is 10-free of toxic chemicals," celebrity nail artist Trenna Seney says.
What makes a nail polish brand bad?
Heather Reynosa, OPI global education design director, says preference is ultimately the deciding factor for many customers. "There are also a large number of products claiming to be three-free, nine-free, and 12-free, and the number just keeps growing. It's important to look into those ingredient lists if it's important to you that the products you use are free of specific active ingredients," Reynosa says. Toxic ingredients shouldn't touch your skin and can reduce the wear of the manicure.
Are regular nail polishes better than gel?
It's easy to think that gel polishes are superior here since they've long been touted as long-lasting and chip-free. Reynosa points out that nail polish and gel polishes "serve two different purposes and two different customers." No one type is better than the other. "Those who want the freedom to change their polish often and are not into the commitment of regular salon manicures are ideal candidates for traditional polish. Gel polish is great for those who want a long-lasting manicure that looks brand new and super shiny until you remove it. Plus, the added thickness makes nails feel tougher," she explains.
Seney agrees, and adds that the main factor that people should consider is whether or not the polish they choose is toxic-free.