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. When salons reopened earlier this year, we vowed we would never take our manicure appointments for granted ever again.
However, with that being said, after many months of giving our nails a bit of a rest from gel manicures, we did notice our nails started to feel healthier and stronger without them. In fact, there was something quite freeing about being able to switch up our nail colours at home with ease.
And although our efforts cannot and will never compare to that of a professional, what we did discover after a year of 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.
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 Coat Abricot 800. First introduced to us via nail artist Harriet Westmoreland (she does Rosie HW'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 top coat.
Dior Base Coat Abricot 800 (£20)
Dior Vernis Nail Polish The Icons in Rouge (£22)
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, there is a Nails Inc. polish out there 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, are also top-tier.
Nails Inc. Nails Inc. Plant Power Nail Polish in Inner Peace of Me (£9)
Nails Inc. Caught in the Nude in Hawaii Beach (£8)
Nails Inc. Nail Kale Superfood Base Coat (£15)
This French nail polish brand is every bit as chic as you might expect. The shades available ooze that sort of understate effortlessly like all good French beauty products should. 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 do 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.
Manucurist Nail Polish in Old Rose (£14)
Manucurist Nail Polish in Milky White (£14)
Manucurist Nail Polish in Khaki (£14)
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.
Nailberry L'Oxygene Nail Lacquer in Noirberry (£15)
Nailberry L'Oxygene Nail Lacquer in Spiritual (£15)
Nailberry L'Oxygene Nail Lacquer in No Regrets (£15)
When it comes to salon-grade nail polishes, OPI are the ones 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.
OPI Nail Polish in Bubble Bath (£11)
OPI Nail Polish in Barefoot in Barcelona (£11)
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 top coat for an extra long-lasting finish.
Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Vibration (£24)
Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Rouge Puissant (£24)
Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour, in Verde Pastello (£18)
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.
Maybelline Superstay 7 Days Gel Nail Polish in Midnight Red (£5)
Maybelline Superstay 7 Days Gel Nail Polish in Hot Salsa (£5)
Maybelline Superstay 7 Days Gel Nail Polish in Deep Red (£5)
8. KURE BAZAAR
Kure Bazaar nail polishes really took off on Instagram this 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 it is the varying shades of nudes, beiges and browns that really sets this brand apart from the rest.
Kure Bazaar Nail Polish in Magnifico (£15)
Kure Bazaar Nail Polish in Nude Or Rose (£15)
Kure Bazaar Nail Polish in Puglia (£15)
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.
Mavala Nail Colour in Blue Bird (£4)
Mavala Nail Colour in Candy Floss (£4)
Mavala Nail Colour in Green Zen (£4)
We think it's pretty safe to assume that there is no beauty expert or editor out there that 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 as beauty as each other. Rumour has it that Essie Ballet Slippers is a royal favourite.
Essie Ballet Slippers Nail Polish (£6)
Essie Sand Tropez Nail Polish (£6)
Essie 88 Licorice Nail Polish (£6)
11. BARRY M
Some of our earliest nail polish-related memories involve a bottle of Barry M nail polish, and they set 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.
Barry M Nail Paint in Fortune Teller (£3)
Barry M Green Origin Nail Paint in Rock Pool (£4)
Barry M Matte Velvet Nail Paint in Lilac Lady (£4)
This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.
This article originally appeared on Who What Wear
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