As tempting as it is to choose a nail polish based on color or endearing shade name alone, if you're after an Instagram-worthy paint job, there are so many other factors to consider. Yes, there's the ever-overwhelming shade dilemma, but you'll also want to think about a polish's endurance, shine, application, and formula makeup. More and more, nail polish brands are upping their game in all the above departments, but we're still nitpicky when it comes to perfecting our list of the best nail polish brands in the industry—the ones we swipe DIY-style at home or request in-salon at all of our favorite nail joints.
Since not all nail polish brands boast equal stature when it comes to quality, we decided to take stock of our own collection of bottles, in addition to the formulas we see the best celebrity manicurists use over and over on their A-list clientele. Ahead, the ultimate guide featuring 14 A+ brands that will never leave you or your tips in a bubbled, chipped, or quick-to-dull lurch. Keep scrolling!
Ever since OPI was founded in 1981, its collections of cult-loved polishes have been prioritized by everyone from manicurists to polish lovers to editors. Regardless of how many collections and new colors the brand releases, we can always count on its high-quality, ultra-pigmented formulas for durable, long-lasting wear alongside loads of compliments.
Essie has been in the game for over 35 years and is the go-to formula for almost every nail pro we know. As beauty editors, we keep its award-winning formulas stockpiled at all times.
I love talking my face off about dark-horse brand Flora 1761 to anyone who will listen. I've tried a lot of nontoxic polish formulas that have left me completely underwhelmed, but the polishes from Flora truly rival the most iconic brands due to their eye-catching shades, shine, and long-wearing results. Supremely elegant in design, its 8-free polishes are unique in that they're inspired by "the historic elegance of flowers and botanicals," according to the brand's website.
Hardly anyone knows about this under-the-radar, nontoxic nail polish brand, but it's one of my favorites as a beauty editor and polish hoarder. Not only are the colors (and cheeky names!) fabulous, but they also apply like liquid velvet and have impressive, chip-resistant staying power. This pop of yellow is right on trend for spring and summer. Oh, and did we mention the brand is committed to nail health, and its comprehensive approach was developed by board-certified podiatric surgeon Cary Gannon?
Nothing makes us feel more badass than a high-shine lacquer of pure black on our tips, and Bond from Tenoverten is always in our polish queue. All of the brand's polish formulas are made without formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene, and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), making them 8-free.
Smith & Cult
We'll straight up admit we think Smith & Cult wins the gold medal as far as luxurious, eye-catching packaging goes, but the brand's beautiful, high-quality formulas walk the walk that the striking glass bottles talk. All of the brand's shades are intensely striking, but for spring, we love this new shimmering pink.
Even though more and more nontoxic nail polish brands are hitting the market, we think Côte is one of the best in terms of color options, shine, durability, and all-around professional results. The polishes are gorgeous, yes, but also 10-free, meaning they're made without toxic ingredients like formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, TPHP, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, parabens, and gluten.
J. Hannah epitomizes the melding of fashion and beauty. (The brand is also loved for its beautiful jewelry!) While the shade range might be smaller than most, the line is, as the brand states on its website, full of "carefully-edited, high quality polishes for the color resistant." In other words, you won't spot any bold or high-glitz pops of color but artist- and nature-inspired hues instead. The above shade, Nectar, is the latest installment.
This shade has earned me more compliments than any other, and I was first introduced to it when celebrity manicurist Mazz Hanna blessed with me a crystal-studded manicure a couple of months ago. According to Hanna, Oribe is one of the best nail polish brands and a consistent go-to when it comes to tending to her A-list clientele.
Zoya might have one of the most impressive ranges of polish shades out of all the brands we love. This pearlescent semi-sheer hue is subdued but a tad more interesting than going for your basic beige or white.
It seems like everyone in the beauty world loves Chanel, and while these bottles are definitely an investment, the colors are rich, buttery, and beautifully smooth as you apply. This flowery hot pink is on our radar right now.
We've never met a manicurist who doesn't mention Deborah Lippmann's classic formulas as one of the all-time best in the nail industry. Typically, we appreciate the brand's lush spread of flattering nudes, but for spring and summer, we're jumping into this bold blue.
How perfect for spring is this polka dot–inspired nail polish from Jinsoon? In addition to boasting a creative and always whimsical color palette, Jinsoon is committed to healthy yet durable manis. Its formulas are 10-free but some of the shiniest and most chip-resistant in our arsenal.
It doesn't get any chicer than wearing Christian Louboutin on your fingertips. Plus, we're just as obsessed with its sleek offering of shades—from classic to edgy. This bold red is a go-to.
Next up, celebrity manicurists say these are the 27 best nude nail colors for every skin tone.
This article was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.