14 Nail Polish Brands That Deliver Salon-Grade Manicures


(Image credit: @heartzeena)

Like carrying a designer handbag, there's just something about a fresh manicure or a sleek pedicure that makes you walk taller. It's a small luxury that goes a long way in making you feel more confident, which is precisely why nail appointments are so in-demand. If you can't get an appointment, then don't fret—there is something quite freeing about being able to switch up our nail colours at home with ease.


(Image credit: @lefevrediary)

And although our efforts cannot and will never compare to that of a professional, what we did discover after a lockdown at-home nail painting is that not all nail polish brands are created equal. Having inadvertently tried just about every nail polish brand out there between us, we've come to realise that some formulations really are superior, higher price points don't always mean better quality, and chipping shouldn't come standard. As always, we like to keep things positive, so instead of giving space to the brands that didn't live up to our expectations, we're spotlighting the brands that surpassed them. 

From covetable designer bottles to affordable favourites you can pick up on your next pharmacy run, scroll below to discover the best nail polish brands. 


(Image credit: @thatsaleaf)

1. Dior

If you ask us, Dior nail polishes are elite. Not only are the formulas themselves highly pigmented and easy to apply, but the shade selection is truly divine. The MVP is without a doubt Dior Base Vernis. First introduced to us via nail artist Harriet Westmoreland (she does Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's nails), the nude-tinted, sheer shade has quickly become our go-to for everyday nails. Just apply a couple of coats and finish off with a high-shine topcoat.

Shop Dior:

2. Nails Inc.

When it comes to slightly more affordable nail polishes, Nails Inc. wins in every category. Available in an array of formulas and shades, Nails Inc. has something for everyone. Not only are all of the polishes cruelty-free, but they are also vegan and halal-friendly. Plus, the brand's offering of nail treatments, from strengtheners to oils, is also top-tier.

Shop Nails Inc:

3. Manucurist

This French nail polish brand is every bit as chic as you might expect. The shades available ooze that sort of understated effortlessness like all good French beauty products do. These polishes are cruelty-free, vegan and last an impressively long time before chipping. If you want to step up your mani game, Manucurist also does gel polishes that can be removed with normal nail polish remover. They don't last as long as a shellac manicure might, but they make for the ultimate long-wearing alternative to normal polish.

4. Nailberry

A firm favourite in our polish collections is Nailberry. A brand that particularly comes into its own in the autumn and winter months thanks to its impressive offering of warm, deep shades, Nailberry polishes make for great staples. In fact, they are some of our most-used polishes by a long shot.

Shop Nailberry:

5. OPI

When it comes to salon-grade nail polishes, OPI is the one to beat. There are countless shades available (seriously, it's hard to make your mind up), and the opaque finish is similar to that of a gel polish. Our favourite, though, is Bubble Bath, a nude pink that suits everyone. On top of all of that, they are really long-lasting. Our advice is to stick to thin layers, as it's easy to overload the brush, which causes the polish to pool on the nail. 

Shop OPI:

6. Chanel

We challenge you to find us a nail polish brand as chic as Chanel. Not only do the bottles make for great dressing-table ornaments, but the calibre of the formulas is also pretty great. They do chip slightly quicker than other brands, but they layer up beautifully and can be set with a topcoat for an extra-long-lasting finish.

Shop Chanel:

7. Maybelline

There is no nail polish that can be purchased for less than £5 that can even come close in quality to the Maybelline Super Stay 7 Days Gel Nail Colours. The shades are unique and luxe-looking, the shine is unparalleled, and they really do last a week. These polishes might be budget, but they give formulas four times their price a run for their money.

Shop Maybelline:

8. Mylee

Mylee's gel nail polishes really took off on Instagram last year. Yes, the bottles are very cute and aesthetically pleasing, but it's the shade selection that cements its place in this list. There is an array of pretty brights, but the varying shades of nudes, beiges and browns that really set this brand apart from the rest.

Shop Mylee:

9. Mavala

If you are travelling anywhere and don't have time to get a gel manicure done before you go, make sure you pack a couple of Mavala polishes. The bottles are dinky so perfect for keeping luggage weight down. But don't be fooled by their small size—they're surprisingly easy to apply, and the finish is top-notch, too.

Shop Mavala:

10. Essie

We think it's pretty safe to assume that there is no beauty expert or editor out there who doesn't own at least one shade of Essie nail polish. There are well over 100 polishes and treatments to choose from, and if you ask us, they're all equally beautiful. Rumour has it that Essie Ballet Slippers is a royal favourite.

Shop Essie:

11. Barry M

Some of our earliest nail polish–related memories involve a bottle of Barry M nail polish, and it sets the bar pretty high. While the shades and durability are second to none, it's the variety of finishes that really makes Barry M polishes a winner. From matte and velvet to metallic and gloss, there is a Barry M nail polish for every taste and need.

Shop Barry M:

12. Rimmel London 

Yet another high-street staple best known for their expansive shades range and of course their super fast drying formulas that make forgetting to squeeze in a pedicure less of SOS moment. For the best results, make sure to seal in your colour with a clear top coat. 

Shop Rimmel:

13. H&M Beauty

Scouring through the latest trends at your local H&M and being able to pick up a fun new nail polish colour in the same breath - sign me up. Accessibility aside, the nail colour offering from H&M beauty are affordable, long wearing and the perfect conduit to a flawless fashion moment. 

14. Beauty Pie

You might best know Beauty Pie for their incredible skincare and makeup offerings—seriously, check out the Super Healthy Skin Body Creme, it's amazing. The brand's nail polish range often gets overlooked, but it deserves all the hype. The ultra-glossy formulas are incredibly long lasting (thanks to a chip-resistant polymer technology), and are infused with coconut oil for hydration.

Shop Beauty Pie:

This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated. 

Next Up: This Is the Nail Colour I Rely On to Make My Manicures Look More Expensive

Maxine Eggenberger
Deputy Editor

Maxine Eggenberger is Who What Wear UK’s deputy editor and has over thirteen years of experience in fashion journalism. She been creating engaging and elevated style content specifically for Who What Wear UK since 2018, covering runway reports, emerging trends, long-form features, self-styled shopping stories and columns, including her edit of the best new-in buys. She ensures the highest editorial standards are met across the site, leads the editorial team in their SEO strategy and keyword planning, works closely with the beauty team on content initiatives, represents the brand at industry events, and regularly contributes to social media, including her own Who What Wear UK TikTok franchise, French Style Fridays. Previously, Maxine appeared on ITV's This Morning in her own fashion segment and has interviewed countless celebrities—everyone from Victoria Beckham to Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o.

Prior to Who What Wear UK, Maxine’s career began when, after completing her first-ever internship at Look magazine, she was offered a position on the brand's fashion desk. She accepted, leaving university a year early in the process. Her passion and natural talent for writing and styling meant she swiftly rose through the ranks to become the title's fashion news and commercial content editor, with a stint as InStyle.co.uk’s fashion and beauty writer along the way. She later served as Look’s acting Editor in Chief, overseeing both print and digital, before embarking on a successful freelance career, working with Grazia, The Pool, and Marie Claire amongst others.

Maxine is based remotely from her countryside home near Edinburgh where she spends her downtime renovating her house, walking her dogs, hosting friends and trying to master the art of making Old Fashioned cocktails.