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The Best Nail Polish

🕚 Updated September 2022

High-quality nail polish can do wonders for your manicure and can reduce the frequency with which you need to reapply your polish. If you're ready to revamp your at-home manicure process, check out our list of the best nail polish!

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  Top Choice Best Vegan Choice Best Metallic Polish Best Quick-Dry Option Best Top Coat
Infinite Shine ProStay Primer and Gloss
Sally Hansen
Good. Kind. Pure Vegan Nail Polish
Nail Polish - Awesome Metallic Full-Size Lacquer
Sally Hansen
Insta-Dri® Nail Polish
Sally Hansen
Mega Strength Top Coat
Our SummaryThis top coat and base duo helps to keep your manicure shiny and fresh for up to 11 days.Available in many pure, gorgeous colors, this 100% vegan nail polish is nature in a bottle.Available in many pure, gorgeous colors, this 100% vegan nail polish is nature in a bottle.With dozens of sassy colors available, you can enjoy a one-coat quick manicure even in a hurry.This top-coat nail polish boosts nail health and seals in your nail color.
Pros✓ Less chipping
✓ Higher shine
✓ Easy application
✓ 100% vegan
✓ Free of toxic ingredients
✓ Lasts up to seven days without chipping or fading
✓ Bang for your buck
✓ Giftable packaging
✓ Full-size bottles
✓ Long-staying power
✓ Only requires one layer
✓ Dries within 60 seconds
✓ Trusted brand
✓ Long-staying power
✓ Made with platinum powder
✓ Comes with contoured brush
✓ Salon-quality shine
ConsX Polish may dry out quicklyX More transparent finishX May stain the nail bedX May dry out if not diligent about shaking
X Colors may be slightly off from description
X May cause discoloration X May peel early
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The Best Nail Polish

Beautiful manicure process.

Buying Guide for Nail Polish

Close-up of pale pink, clear, and silver nail polish.
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock.com

Why buy nail polish?

There are many different types of nail polish: colorful lacquers, nourishing polish, and specialty nail polish such as gel or shellac. Many nail polishes are designed to be used alone on your nails to strengthen them and prevent splitting and breaking. Others require a base, color, and top coat for best results. And then, there are many nail polishes infused with ingredients that protect your color nail polish from fading or changing color from sustained UV exposure to the sun.

What should you consider when buying nail polish?

  • Durability: A quality, long-lasting nail polish can last up to two weeks if you take good care of your manicure. You can use a base coat and top coat to help lengthen your manicure, but some nail polish brands are made to be tough and durable without them. Mainly, you’ll want a polish that doesn’t take more than a few layers to be opaque and one that won’t chip within a couple of days.
  • Color: We all have our favorite colors, whether the hues that bring out the best in our skin tone or colors that inspire us and make us happy. But some choose a nourishing clear polish for its healthful benefits. Whatever you choose, there’s a nail polish color option out there that will match any outfit, season, or trend.
  • Drying Time: If you have plenty of time for self-care, you probably won’t mind waiting up to ten minutes for your nail polish to cure between layers. And a long, relaxing manicure can make you feel good. But if you need a fabulous manicure in a hurry, quick-drying nail polish may be your best friend.

When do you know it’s time to toss your nail polish?

If your nail polish is starting to get thick, goopy, or tends to leave bubbles when you paint your nails, it’s time to replace it. These are all clear signs that your polish has seen better days and that it’s time to head to your favorite beauty store for some retail therapy.

Our Picks for the Best Nail Polish

Top Choice

OPI Infinite Shine ProStay Primer and Gloss

This top coat and base duo helps to keep your manicure shiny and fresh for up to 11 days.

Pros: A great manicure begins and ends with a base and top coat. This combo, when used together, provides optimum sticking power, less chipping, 60% higher gloss retention, and 25% higher shine. Begin with the base, paint on your favorite on-brand shade, and finish with the top coat. Both of these layers offer a quick dry time of just 60 seconds. Your manicure will look and feel professional without the salon’s expense. And you don’t even have to use a UV light to seal your layers. This combo pack even seals glittery nail polish and helps keep jewels in place.

Cons: Be sure to replace the brush quickly, as this nail polish can dry out fast.

Bottom Line: This base and top coat comes as a set. Each polish is easy to use, and the bottles are marked with numbered steps to avoid confusion. This combo works best with the same brand of nail polish.


Best Vegan Choice

Sally Hansen - Good. Kind. Pure Vegan Nail Polish

Available in many pure, gorgeous colors, this 100% vegan nail polish is nature in a bottle.

Pros: Natural, plant-based, and 100% vegan, this nail polish is a product you can feel good about. It’s free of toxic ingredients in many other nail polish brands, including formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, toluene, xylene, acetone, phthalates, camphor, parabens, ethyl tosylamide, and triphenyl phosphate. It comes with a nail polish brush from 100% natural, plant-based materials. With this eco-friendly nail polish, your manicure can last up to seven days without chipping or fading. Using the on-brand base and top coat is recommended for best results.

Cons: It’s a little more transparent than other nail lacquer brands.

Bottom Line: If you don’t mind painting your nails in layers, this vegan nail polish may work for you. You can feel good about using a product that’s better for the environment and still delivers amazing results, like many standard nail polish brands.


Best Metallic Polish

Kleancolor Nail Polish - Awesome Metallic Full-Size Lacquer

Rock a different look every day with this 12-pack of dazzling metallic nail polishes.

Pros: You can get a ton of bang for your buck with this 12-pack of nail polishes. The giftable packaging makes it great for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions. You get 12 unique full-size metallic colors with each pack. The polish paints on smoothly and is opaque, requiring only one to two layers for the best effect. They work best and last longer if you use a base and a top coat. However, even without a base and top coat, these polishes are durable and chip less than many other brands. They don’t contain glitter, an excellent bonus for those who hate the hassle of removing stubborn glitter nail polish.

Cons: This nail polish may stain the nail bed.

Bottom Line: It’s no longer impossible to get a lot of high-quality nail polish for a nice low price. This set makes an excellent gift for the manicure enthusiast in your life who wants a bit of shine without glitter.


Best Quick-Dry Option

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri® Nail Polish

With dozens of sassy colors available, you can enjoy a one-coat quick manicure even in a hurry.

Pros: This quick-drying nail polish is a favorite for busy nail polish enthusiasts. It only takes one layer to achieve thick, pure color in just 60 seconds, so you can look fierce and get back to your day. The contoured brush makes the application process a snap, and this popular nail polish is produced by a well-known and trusted name in all things nail-related. This polish comes in many colors, plus a clear top coat. Best of all, this nail polish is long-wearing.

Cons: Because this nail polish is quick-dry, you must be diligent about closing the bottle while painting it on and shaking it frequently. Also, the colors can be a bit off from the descriptions.

Bottom Line: For nail polish enthusiasts with little time, this quick-drying polish is a life-saver. It’s great for adults, teens, and kids with busy hands because, after one minute, it won’t smudge or budge.


Best Top Coat

Sally Hansen Mega Strength Top Coat

This top-coat nail polish boosts nail health and seals in your nail color.

Pros: There’s nothing worse than dealing with nails that chip, peel, or break. Fortunately, this nail polish top coat is made with platinum powder—the ultimate nail-strengthening formula. It comes with a contoured brush for easy application, and the bottle and cap are also designed for ease of use. This top coat gives your nails ultra-shiny brilliance and works to strengthen your nails at the same time, making it ideal to use by itself or over any of the 37 color shades in this collection. It has a brilliant, high-gloss finish that makes your nails look fresh from the salon without the high price.

Cons: This polish may cause discoloration and leave a yellowish tinge on your manicure. In some cases, you may experience premature peeling.

Bottom Line: This brand-name top coat is a go-to for manicure lovers. The brand has an extensive shade range plus durable top coat products, which makes this a solid option, especially since it’s readily available in stores or online.

Final Thoughts

You will need a high-quality lacquer to ensure that your manicure lasts longer than a day or two. Good nail polish shouldn’t chip, peel, or fade for at least a week. You may also choose to add a base and top coat for best results, or you can choose a nail polish that is all-in-one.

Stacy Rounds Stacy Rounds
Stacy is a freelance writer. She has created a variety of web and print copy, from lifestyle and dating advice to small business reviews and short stories. She has a degree in business and marketing and has worked for several years as a social media manager. Through writing creative fiction, satire, and advertisements, she developed a passion for the written word. She enjoys cooking and painting in her free time. Read Full Bio »
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