15 Best Nail Polish Brands for Your Perfect Manicure

15 Best Nail Polish Brands for Your Perfect Manicure

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Just like painting nails, choosing the right nail polish is an art form within itself. A sea of nail polishes line salon walls and drugstore beauty aisles. Lacquers run the gamut from pretty pastels and rich reds to gel nail polish and natural nail polish. Don’t fret; no matter your dream manicure, there’s a perfect polish out there for you.

We cleared the sheer number of options and handpicked the best nail polishes. Thanks to long-lasting, trademark hues, recognizable brands like OPI and Essie are mainstays among our in-house beauty editors and staffers. Newer names like French-born Manicurist or buzzworthy Olive & June impress with fresh hues and speedy drying time.

Our top picks:

  • 1Sheer Enamel Nail Polish

    Best Overall Nail Polish

    Essie Sheer Enamel Nail Polish

    $8 at Amazon$8 at AmazonRead more

  • 2New York Color Show Nail Lacquer

    Best Value Nail Polish

    Maybelline New York Color Show Nail Lacquer

    $6 at Walmart$6 at WalmartRead more

  • 3Green Nail Polish

    Most Quick Drying Nail Polish

    Manicurist Green Nail Polish

    $14 at Amazon$14 at AmazonRead more

  • 4Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss

    Best Chip-Resistant Nail Polish

    CoverGirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss

    $1 at Amazon$1 at AmazonRead more

  • 5Nail Lacquer

    Best Natural Nail Polish

    Zoya Nail Lacquer

    $12 at Ulta Beauty$12 at Ulta BeautyRead more

Show more

"A great nail polish delivers high shine, super smooth application, has a fast-drying formula, UV protection and great color assortments," says Jin Soon Choi, expert nail artist and JINsoon founder. In addition to tapping our team’s favorites, our pros at the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab sent more than 174 polishes to consumer testers and recruited a professional manicurist to apply polishes. We whittled down the very best picks based on 37,000 survey responses rating dry speed, chip resistance, shine, evenness of application and more.

Peruse our complete list of picks below. For more at-home manicure inspiration, pamper yourself with DIY dip powder nail kits and gel nail kits or the most natural-looking press-on nails. Removing acrylics? Gently rid polish with a nail drill, then top it off with a nail strengthener.

1Best Overall Nail Polish

Essie Sheer Enamel Nail Polish

On SaleSheer Enamel Nail Polish 1Best Overall Nail Polish

Essie Sheer Enamel Nail Polish

Now 16% Off$8 at Amazon$9 at Walmart$10 at Ulta BeautyCredit: EssiePros

  • ProHundreds of colors
  • ProHigh shine
  • ProEasy to apply and remove


  • ConMay take a few coats for best color payoff

Founded in 1981, Essie has held a polished reputation. The nail polish brand offers 1,000 shades (and counting), including signature formulas like cloudy white Marshmallow and pale pink Ballet Slippers. We even surveyed our panel of consumer testers, who raved about its high gloss, saying they loved how shiny the polish remained throughout its entire wear time.

Many of our staffers count themselves fans, including Grace Wu, a product reviews analyst at GH. She appreciates that "it always has the color I want, from classic shades to trendy options that are perfect for every occasion." Its lightweight application can be built up for more opaqueness.

2Best Value Nail Polish

Maybelline New York Color Show Nail Lacquer

New York Color Show Nail Lacquer2Best Value Nail Polish

Maybelline New York Color Show Nail Lacquer

Now 23% Off$6 at WalmartCredit: Maybelline New YorkPros

  • ProLong-lasting formula
  • ProHigh-gloss finish
  • ProBudget-friendly


  • ConHard to remove

Among our staffers and testers, we found that on average this budget-friendly polish lasted the longest of any polish we tried, with a wear of almost six and a half days — without a base or top coat. It also tied with Essie for the highest shine score, with one GH tester marveling, "It was still shiny up until I removed the polish!"

Another person exclaimed: "I am very hard on my hands… planting, sports, pot scrubbing with my nails… The polish has stayed perfectly on my hands as if it were the first day." A few online shoppers loved its bold color options but noted some difficulty with ridding traces of the color from nails.

3Most Quick Drying Nail Polish

Manicurist Green Nail Polish

Green Nail Polish3Most Quick Drying Nail Polish

Manicurist Green Nail Polish

$14 at AmazonCredit: MancuristPros

  • ProChic color range
  • ProPigmented
  • ProGreat alternative to gel


  • ConNeeds a top coat to avoid chipping

Picture all those tasking minutes spent painting nails, avoiding cuticles with finesse and carefully letting them air dry — only to accidentally smudge them. Enter French-made Manucurist’s Green Nail Polish. The nail polish line dries quickly to avoid such qualms sans LED lamps.

"Never have I tried a nail polish more quick drying than this one. All it takes is two coats without the cumbersome waiting for each layer to dry," a GH staffer says. "I’ve also found it pretty resistant to chipping with the help of a top coat. I specifically love its rich, chic burgundy shade Dark Pansy. It’s beautifully pigmented."

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below4Best Chip-Resistant Nail Polish

CoverGirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss

Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss4Best Chip-Resistant Nail Polish

CoverGirl Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss

$1 at AmazonPros

  • ProResisted chips for four days
  • ProAce application and coverage


  • ConTakes ample time to dry

CoverGirl’s nail polish floored our expert nail technician. It outlasted other polishes we tried, receiving the highest scores for chip resistance. Chipping first started around day four, and the polish lasted for an average of six and a quarter days.

Boasting a built-in topcoat, the polish is designed to deliver high shine and protection. An online shopper appreciates that "it doesn’t dull as fast as other brands." Even so, other reviewers revealed that they had to give it ample time to dry in between coats.

5Best Natural Nail Polish

Zoya Nail Lacquer

Nail Lacquer5Best Natural Nail Polish

Zoya Nail Lacquer

$12 at Ulta BeautyCredit: ZoyaPros

  • Pro10-free formulas
  • ProVast shade selection


  • ConLong, thin brush

Zoya has been a pioneer for non-toxic nail lacquers with its 10-free formulas. Beauty editors and reviewers alike covet the brand and its incredible color options, which span more than 550 unique shades.

"I love the wide shade range and long-lasting formula," says GH Beauty Assistant Catharine Malzahn. "I’ve even had pedicures using Zoya that have stayed chip-free for up to three weeks. As a bonus, I barely need a second coat of this polish." Your manicure may take longer to DIY, though, as the long, thin brush requires more strokes.

6Best Long-Lasting Nail Polish

Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish Kit

Gel Couture Nail Polish Kit6Best Long-Lasting Nail Polish

Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish Kit

$18 at AmazonCredit: EssiePros

  • ProResists chipping even on busy hands
  • ProRobust color selection
  • ProTwo-step kit


  • ConThick application

A gel polish that stands up to whatever you’ve got going on, "I have been using this polish for years and have found that nothing else compares," says GH Nutrition Lab Director Stefani Sassos. "The quality and color selection is amazing, and the top coat adds great shine and protection."

As a busy working mom, Sassos says she’s always cooking, washing dishes, changing diapers, working out, commuting and more: "My hands are constantly working, and this polish is the only one that keeps up and won’t chip." However, shoppers online critiqued its thick formula, finding it difficult to apply around the edges.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below7Best Luxury Nail Polish

Chanel LE VERNIS Longwear Nail Color

LE VERNIS Longwear Nail Color7Best Luxury Nail Polish

Chanel LE VERNIS Longwear Nail Color

$32 at NordstromCredit: ChanelPros

  • ProThoughtful neutrals and colors
  • ProOnly takes one coat


  • ConMay chip faster than others

Iconic French designer brand Chanel curates the ultimate palette of neutrals like reds and beiges as well as vivid statement colors. GH Beauty Director April Franzino loves its Particuliere shade, which she calls "the polish equivalent of a classic camel coat."

Chanel shoppers equally appreciated its "vibrant" and "shiny" coating. "I probably could have gotten away with just one coat as the brush is lovely for giving even application without streaks," one person writes. One caveat: The lacquer seems to chip a bit faster than other brands.


Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish

On SaleMiracle Gel Nail Polish8BEST GEL NAIL POLISH

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish

Now 41% Off$6 at Amazon$10 at Walmart$12 at JCPenneyCredit: Sally HansenPros

  • ProFast drying
  • ProGel-like shine without UV
  • ProLonger lasting than regular polish


  • ConDoesn’t last quite as long as claimed

Get salon-worthy results with an innovative gel polish that doesn’t require the usual light to cure. Ditch the acetone and foils; the polish lifts as easily as a normal polish would with remover. Our beauty pros reported that this lacquer dried fast, chipped less and lasted longer than regular nail polish, though it didn’t last quite as long as a true gel polish.

"Deeper colors were rich and fabulous even after one coat," one tester raves. Shoppers echoed that sentiment, writing: "The brush is shaped perfectly to cover your nails in one stroke. It dries instantly, less than a minute, to a very high shine."

9Best Red Nail Polish

Dear Sundays No.13

No.139Best Red Nail Polish

Dear Sundays No.13

$18 at dearsundays.comCredit: Dear SundaysPros

  • ProSmooth formula
  • ProEasy application


  • ConNeeds a top coat

Dear Sundays made a believer out of GH Beauty Lab Director Sabina Wizemann. "I have a newfound appreciation for Sundays after having my nails done at their salon and finding my perfect red." This pepper red shade glides on smooth and spreads easily for a neat application.

Touting a "10-free" formula, the brand claims this polish is made without this number of known toxins. Another editor appreciated its easy-grip bottle and flat brush but found it chipped quite quickly without a top coat.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below10Most Popular Nail Polish

OPI Nail Lacquer

Nail Lacquer10Most Popular Nail Polish

OPI Nail Lacquer

$12 at AmazonCredit: OPIPros

  • ProIncredibly fast drying
  • ProGreat color options


  • ConApply in thin layers

Iconic nail polish brand OPI has fans in GH beauty editors, staffers and manicurists alike. Complete with clever names like Big Apple Red and Funny Bunny, the nail lacquer spans more than 230 shades. We tapped a nail technician who gave OPI a perfect score across the board, including coverage and drying time.

"I swear by OPI nail polish!" raves Emma Seymour, a senior textiles analyst at GH. "I just use their general nail lacquer, and it has superior shine, longevity and easy application." Another editor adds: "When I get my nails done, I always choose OPI (a staple at salons) because I can rely on its quality." Just tap off the brush before applying as it picks up a good excess of polish.

11Best Shiny Nail Polish

Dazzle Dry Mini Kit Four-Step System

Mini Kit Four-Step System 11Best Shiny Nail Polish

Dazzle Dry Mini Kit Four-Step System

$38 at AmazonCredit: Dazzle DryPros

  • ProLasts as long as gel
  • ProEasy to remove


  • ConSeveral steps

For gel-like shine (and lasting power!) without the curing process, opt for this editor favorite. "Unlike any other nail polish, this four-step system goes on like regular polish but lasts as long as gel (and fully dries in five minutes!)," says Malzahn. "It’s completely replaced gel polish for me."

As opposed to the process for removing traditional gel polish, you can easily remove this with regular acetone nail polish remover. Other staffers found it lasted one to two weeks. Much like getting a gel manicure at the salon, this DIY system is a small labor of love.

12Best Vegan Nail Polish

Orosa Pure Cover Nail Paint

Pure Cover Nail Paint12Best Vegan Nail Polish

Orosa Pure Cover Nail Paint

Now 17% Off$10 at ORosaCredit: OrosaPros

  • ProFree of 14 known toxins
  • ProLong-lasting, vibrant color


  • ConNot the easiest application

Super popular among our top-rated non-toxic nail lacquers, this high-pigment polish promises a quick-drying formula, week-long wear and vibrant color. The brand claims that the formula is vegan and Orosa shoppers love the payoff: "I can’t believe how long it lasts," one reviewer raves. "I didn’t use a base coat or a top coat, and it still lasted over a week for me."

While praising its pretty packaging, a few shoppers struggled with its brush, finding that the bristles made it hard to control the polish application.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below13Best Glossy Nail Polish

Cote Toxin-Free Nail Polish

Toxin-Free Nail Polish13Best Glossy Nail Polish

Cote Toxin-Free Nail Polish

$21 at AmazonCredit: CotePros

  • ProLong-lasting, high-shine wear
  • ProFree of 10 known toxins


  • ConStrong smell

GH editors favor Cote for its glossy finish that dries quickly and looks professional even without a top coat. "The colors are perfectly pigmented, so it’s easy to paint layers without them looking streaky," says one editor. "It dries quickly, lasts up to two weeks and has a gel-like sheen that always gets tons of compliments."

"I was pleased I went three or more [days] without chipping with Cote. And, I even forgot to use a top coat for some of the nails," praises an Amazon shopper. But despite its toxin-free boast, the Cote nail polish may have a potent scent, per online reviews,


Olive & June Nail Polish


Olive & June Nail Polish

$9 at Olive & JuneCredit: Olive & JunePros

  • ProCustom handle attachment for easy application
  • ProCute packaging


  • ConGive time to dry

Olive & June is a DIY manicure must-have among multiple GH beauty editors. "Every time I paint my nails with this brand, the polish lasts and lasts," says one editor. The "fanned out brush shapes make applying at home a breeze."

You can also opt for the mani system that includes "Poppy," Olive & June’s patented polish bottle handle, making it easy to paint both hands mess-free. Just make sure you double-check nails before applying a top coat as a GH editor found it took some time to dry.

15Best Neutral Nail Polish

Paintbox Nail Lacquer

Editor’s ChoiceNail Lacquer15Best Neutral Nail Polish

Paintbox Nail Lacquer

$22 at paint-box.comCredit: PaintBoxPros

  • ProOn-trend shades
  • ProBeauty editor favorite


  • ConSpendy

Available in 34 shades, "this collection has colors you can’t find anywhere else, like this minimalist putty shade," says Franzino. She also appreciates its custom-matched "power couple" hues designed to complement each other, "taking the guesswork out of mani/pedi shade selection."

Its paddle-shaped brush is a stroke of genius when it comes to easy application. However, the polish is a bit of a splurge at $22.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

What brand of nail polish stays on the longest?


It’s less about the polish and more about the prep! For better chances of a manicure that lasts, ensure nails are clean and dry before application, says Choi. Or, swipe nails with polish remover immediately before applying nail polish to remove any residue. Then, "push back cuticles for a neat, clean application and apply a base coat before applying color," she says.

Longer nails can elongate fingers, but "shorter nails are less likely to chip, so opt for a clean, short cut" if you’re worried about chipping, suggests Rachel Apfel Glass, founder of GLOSSLAB. When it comes to painting on the polish, "applying with caution and not applying more than two coats is ideal for a long-lasting manicure," adds Choi.

"After-care should consist of daily hydration to the cuticles," says Choi. Glass recommends using coconut oil to moisturize the nail bed. In the Beauty Lab, we love a hand cream or a specialized cuticle cream to keep nails healthy and hydrated.

What is the healthiest nail polish for your nails?


While "clean" formulas are popular, be wary: there’s no industry-regulated definition for the term "clean beauty," which means brands can claim whatever they like. The same goes for "-free" claims: "Everyone has a different definition of this and there is no industry accepted definition," says Danusia Wnek, a chemist in the GH Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab.


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