If there's one thing we've learned as beauty editors, it's that a brand's popularity doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with its effectiveness or quality. While perhaps a bit controversial, we're not afraid to dismiss a hair, makeup, skincare, or even nail polish brand if we think it's (honestly) underwhelming and over-hyped. There's a large bandwagon mentality when it comes to beauty products and good (or bad) marketing can be a be-all-end-all for a bourgeoning label.
Bearing all of that in mind, we like to keep it real here at Who What Wear Beauty] and only recommend the brands and products we feel are really truly worth your money. Recently, me and my beauty colleague Courtney Higgs dished on the most popular makeup brands we 100% feel earn their well-famed glory, and now it's time dive into nail polish. With so many brands out there with tons of different formulas, thousands of colors, and some really crazy price points, we whittled down the most popular nail polish brands that deliver the best durability, über-glossy finish, and all-around nail glamour.
Keep scrolling for our top picks and the exact shades we currently have sitting on top of our vanities or inside our shopping carts.
Sure, $32 a pop for nail polish is nothing to sneeze at. That being said, this isn't your average nail polish, nor is Oribe just a hair brand. Celebrity manicurists (and beauty editors!) love Oribe's quaint-sized collection of 8-free nail polish. Each shade delivers a fabulously shiny finish that features Shade-Lock technology to prevent fade, chipping, and other signs of wear. Lavender Smoke is the most iconic hue, but Green Envy is moody, unexpected, and surprisingly flattering.
Season after season, collection after collection, we're consistently bewitched by Zoya's luxurious and seriously mesmerizing polish shades. The brand claims that they make the world's longest wearing natural nail polish and nail care treatments, and bases on how long our at-home paint jobs last using the popular polish brand (we're not going to dispute that statement). We're loving both of these shades from Zoya's spring collection which, might we add, is appropriately coined "Calm."
Of course, Orly has a healthy assortment of nudes and neutrals (which are fantastic). In addition to being vegan,12-free, and cruelty-free, one of the reasons this polish brand is so popular is due to how damn fun and punchy its shades are. Right now, we're feeling a fire-and-ice vibe with these two perfect-for-summer hues.
There's a reason Deborah Lippmann has remained one of the most well-known and popular names in the nail business since her eponymous line's inception back in 1999. Her colors are stunning, and if you opt for one of her new Gel Lab Pro formulas, you'll be gifted with gel-like treatment polish that promises chip-resistant, glossy, very compliment-worthy nail perks.
Not only is Nails Inc. known for its full-coverage, highly pigmented colors, shimmers, glitters, and anything else you'd want to decorate your tips with, but each shade also boasts a patented brush that's exclusive to the brand. It's ergonomically designed to adapt to the shape of your nail, thus creating the most flawless at-home result possible.
Created by world-renowned nail artist Jin Soon Choi, this popular polish brand is one of the most coveted by celebrities, manicurists, beauty experts, and nail polish lovers everywhere. According to the brand's website, Jin believes that the nail polish should be as healthful and eco-friendly yet enduring as possible. Thus, every single shade is 9/10-free and formulated with high-tech polymers and resins that create an incredibly shiny and durable result. You'll only need two coats and the formula is quick-drying to boot.
When we think of the absolute best nail polish the drugstore has to offer (and honestly, even beyond the drugstore!), Sally Hansen is instantly top of mind. The brand has tons of different collections all bearing unique perks and finishes (from plant-based to quick-dry to chip-resistant, and with over 500 shades to choose from, you're sure to be able to outfit your nail wardrobe with ample success. Right now, we're obsessed with the plant-based Good. Kind. Pure. Collection along with the brand's Insta-Dri options (because we lack patience).
J.Hannah is truly the fashion crowd's polish brand of choice. Artistically inclined, the entire line of the polish is painstakingly edited, non-toxic, cruelty-free, and made in the United States. Think of this brand as the poster child for luxurious, quality polish for the color-averse. Plus, it's heaven for anyone who loves neutrals.
Essie is one of the most beloved and popular nail polish brands ever. We were smitten enough back when it just had its sole range of lacquers, but in the past few years, it's branched out to bring us a gel-inspired Gel Couture line, and most recently, Expressie—a fabulously fast-drying new formula we're super keen on at the moment. Rock the Runway is one of the best shades of red we'ver ever come across, and we couldn't believe the number of compliments this chic shade of denim blue racked in.
Smith & Cult
When it comes to packaging, color range, gloss, brush-size, chip-resistance, and pretty much everything else you can think of, 8-free brand Smith & Cult just wins all around. Its new spring colors just landed, and we're especially high on this vibrant yellow and also plan on keeping around our all-time favorite shade, Peaceful Paranoia, for good measure.
Nothing is chicer than Chanel—even if you're only wearing it on your nails. Unsurprisingly, the brand has amassed its fair share of iconic, highly sought-after shades. Most notably, Vamp (a shimmering blood-red number) and Particulière (a quintessential beige-nude option manicurists tout as universally perfect).
Olive & June
Prepare yourself for a bold statement, but as a beauty editor who's also been a professional nail fanatic since I was, like, 5 years old (no kidding—that's when I starting painting my nails and collecting as many bottles as I could), I proclaim Olive & June's eponymous nail line the best thing since OPI and Essie. Yep—I went there. The formula is insanely thick, bouncy, glossy, and durable, and that's before I mention that each and every color is more obsession-forming than the last. The metallics from the brand's winter collection still feel fabulous and fresh, and I can't stop rotating between every polish in the brand's spring's Super Bloom Set ($56). JM, the perfect pink shown above, is a particular standout.
Do we even need to explain this addition? Without a doubt, OPI is probably the most popular and in-demand nail polish brand in all the land. We love its OG formula and its gel-like Infinite Shine equally, and we're borderline addicted to collecting every new polish debut the brand blesses us with. Right now, we're in the mood for purples. We love the forever iconic borderline-black hue, Lincoln Park After Dark, and a fresh punchy shade of neon iolet named Positive Vibes Only. (Feels appropriate right now, no?)
We never make a pit stop at Ulta without snapping up a few bottles of polish from China Glaze. This popular nail polish brand excels at neons but has hundreds of colors sure to satisfy whatever your choice is in terms of addictive nail color.
Butter London's clean, cruelty-free, and nail-strengthening polish formulas have reached epic-proportion popularity for a reason. The brand has every dreamy color you could ever want for your nail repertoire, and the signature formula is incredibly luxe and high-tech (think Shock Resistant Polymer Technology for long wear and chip resistance, diamond powder to add shine and brightness, UV absorbers to prevent fade, and last but not least, bamboo extract to keep your natural nails as long, healthy, and breakage-free as possible).