Salon-level results every time.
Courtesy of brands
A little practice goes a long way when perfecting your at-home manicure, and having an arsenal of the best nail polish colors can help you get the kind of next-level results you’re used to leaving the salon with. Everyone has a signature color they swear by, whether it’s a timeless red, a moody navy, or a soft, dreamy pastel that’s popping up all over your feed.
But if you’ve ever painted your own nails, you’ll know that not all nail polishes are created equal: Some streak; some take hours to dry; others chip the same day. You could easily spend years looking for a brush and formula you love—which is why we did the work for you and came up with this list of tried-and-true polishes. From undisputed classics to indie brands with nontoxic formulas, scroll through 19 of the best nail polish colors to add to your collection.
All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
1/19Best Neon: PearNovaI never shy away from color on my nails. If you ask me, the brighter the better. My go-to during warmer months is usually punchy neon, and no one does bold better than PearNova. The polishes have great coverage and color pay-off, making it easy to DIY at home and the best nail polish color for toes. But the best part is probably the long brush, which hugs the curves of my nail beds perfectly. If you want something more subtle, the brand makes all popular nail colors. —Ariana Yaptangco, senior beauty editor
2/19Best Gel Nail Polish: GelishAs the debate over gel nail polish versus dip powder nails rages on, I’ll be sticking to Gelish when I want a mani that lasts. Gel is easy to DIY, especially if you have a UV light to cure your polish at home. During a time when salon visits are not for everyone, it’s good to know that you can get salon-level results for gel nails on your own. —Cortni Spearman, senior social media manager
3/19Best Top Coat: Seche ViteSpotted on the Instagram story recommendations of nearly every beauty editor is this top coat nail polish from Seche Vite. It dries quick and doesn’t budge—it literally does not chip for weeks at a time and maintains your mani’s glossy finish. Did I mention it’s only $10? —A.Y.
4/19Best Luxury: Gucci I have been thinking about the green jumpsuit Lana Del Rey wears in this Gucci ad for nearly three years, and the brand finally went ahead and made it in a form I can actually afford. It was worth the wait, as the shade looks so fresh and cool on my nails, and makes me feel a little artsier than my usual red. The polish itself is shiny and smooth, and the longer handle isn’t just gorgeous, but it makes a DIY mani a breeze.” —Bella Cacciatore, beauty writer
Saks Fifth Avenue
5/19Best Indie: S.I.S. Luxe LacquerI recently discovered S.I.S. nail polishes and have been obsessed since. The cute nail colors range from pretty neons for spring and summer to dark moody shades perfect for winter nail ideas. I don’t have the best self-manicuring skills, but the wide brush makes it easy to DIY. Plus, how pretty is the bottle? —C.S.
Simone I. Smith
More from Glamour
Courtesy of brand6/19Best Overall: EssieAsk anyone for the names of their favorite nail polishes, and an Essie shade is bound to top the list. I mean, it certainly says something that even Queen Elizabeth has one. (That would be the famed Ballet Slippers—which is also reportedly the shade Meghan Markle wore for her wedding.) If those accolades don’t convince you, the brand’s vast shade range certainly will. In its 35 years, Essie has created more than 900 colors—250 of which are permanent, all of which are gorgeous—that complement the vast range of nail shapes. The product’s staying power, meanwhile, will nearly always last you a week—two if you use a top coat. If manicurists swear by any brand over and over, this is it. —Lindsay Schallon, contributor
Courtesy of brand7/19Best Splurge: ChanelWe might not all be able to throw down for a Chanel bag, but $28 on nail polish is so much more doable. And nothing feels as luxurious as popping the top off of one of these chic glass bottles. The colors are rich and classic—descriptions you could certainly say fit the Chanel lifestyle. But nothing puts me more squarely in the fantasy than a red-wine-inspired mani, which Rouge Noir is perfect for. The deep burgundy shade is a moody update to cherry red, but it’s equally timeless. —Erin Parker, contributor
Courtesy of brand8/19Best Long-Lasting: OPII’ve loved OPI since I was little. Even though it’s a nail brand, the themed collections, fantastical names, and editorial ad campaigns have always seemed very fashiony to me. Plus the color range is stunning. It has everything from classic reds (ChickFlick Cherry is my personal favorite) to harder-to-find slime greens and dusty pastel nail colors, all at drugstore prices. The formula itself feels really luxurious and has a super-shiny finish, and the teeny, tiny brush is perfect for painting your own nails. —BC
Courtesy of brand9/19Best Budget Nail Polish: Sally HansenNail polish and I have a love-hate relationship. I do love the polished, put-together appearance of a fresh coat, but it can too easily devolve into chipped and brittle nails—not the cutest accessory (to say the least)! Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel has quickly become my saving grace for painting my own nails. The two-step process (color and topcoat) dries in a matter of minutes, creating a smooth, chip-proof manicure. Plus you can say goodbye to harmful UV light; this miracle gel lasts up to 14 days without exposing your hands to ultraviolet rays and makes for great pedicure colors. —Talia Gutierrez, contributor
Courtesy of brand 10/19Best Nontoxic: Sally Hansen Good. Kind. Pure.Nontoxic nail polishes have become better and more accessible than ever, but one place where they’ve generally been harder to find is in the drugstore nail aisle. Good news: Sally Hansen’s new line of vegan polishes changes that. The collection comes in 30 shades and features a 16-free formula that’s entirely plant-based (including the brush bristles). My favorite? This perfect muted lavender called Laven-Dear that goes on smooth and stays put for days. —L.S.
Courtesy of brand11/19Best Quick-Dry Nail Polish: Essie ExpressieEven if I have nowhere to go, I like my nails to dry fast. I mean, who really enjoys sitting there helpless, hands akimbo? The brush on Essie’s new Expressie Quick-Dry Nail Color is wide enough to cover my whole nail in one swipe but doesn’t make a mess. I breezed through painting both hands in about a minute. I needed to add another coat to get the opacity I wanted, but if I was truly in a rush, I could get away with just one. Here’s the real kicker, though: Not only did it take a minute to paint all my nails, but this Glamour Beauty Award winner was actually dry after 66 seconds. Yes, I timed it. —B.C.
Courtesy of brand12/19Best Vegan: ZoyaZoya is one of the bigger names in the nontoxic nail polish world, and it’s not hard to see why. It comes in 400 vegan-friendly shades, the colors are gorgeous, and it’s a five-free formula. It goes on as well as any competitor’s and hangs in pretty well. I only noticed the first couple of chips by the end of day four. —Sarah Wu, contributor
13/19Best Neutrals: CôteI’m not great at doing my own nails, but this six-free polish is super easy to apply. It doesn’t go on thick or so thin that you can’t see the color—even in the white shade (No. 2). I love white nails, but I’m really picky with them, since some polishes can look like Wite-Out. This color is really pretty, and it lasted for a while without chipping. —Anna Moeslein, deputy editor
More from Glamour
Courtesy of brand14/19Best Reds: CNDMy nail polish collection consists of many, many shades of red, and the ones from CND always impress me. The brush covers your nail with two strokes, and the polish goes on thick and smooth. I like to use it with the brand’s topcoat for a long-lasting, glossy finish—and despite the fact that I’m washing my hands nonstop, the polish doesn’t chip until the third or fourth day. —Talia Abbas, commerce editor
Courtesy of brand15/19Best Pastels: Olive & JuneL.A.’s coolest nail salon launched its own line of seven-free polishes in 2019, and it’s not hard to see why people freaked out over it. You can tell a good polish by its shine, and these have a rich gloss. Blame it on the spring weather, but I especially love the Pastels collection. My favorite is JLR. It’s a light, almost creamy yellow that works well alone or as a base for nail art. —Shanna Shipin, commerce managing editor
Olive & June
Courtesy of brand16/19Best Pinks: SundaysSundays is hands down one of the chicest salons in NYC, and its nail polishes are no different. Its formula is 10-free, vegan, and cruelty-free, while its staying power is fairly good for a nontoxic nail polish. Where it really shines, though, is the vast number of pretty pearlescent pinks it offers that look incredible against a range of skin tones. —S.W.
Courtesy of brand17/19Best Blues: Smith & CultIf you’re looking for an eight-free polish that looks as good on your nails as in the bottle, this is it. The colors are gorgeous—like this deep blue—and the finish is super glossy. I finished it with the brand’s topcoat, which gave my nails that fresh-from-the-salon shine that didn’t chip for days. So many blues stain your nails and cuticles when you try to remove them, but even the deepest navy polishes from Smith & Cult come off with ease. I never fail to get compliments, whether I’m wearing a summery cobalt or dark-as-night indigo. —Halie LeSavage, contributor
Smith & Cult
Courtesy of brand18/19Best Darks: Jin SoonI love dark nail polish, but it’s so obvious when it starts to chip. That’s what makes Jin Soon’s formulas so incredible. The shades almost always last me a week before showing signs of wear, and they keep their shine even after washing your hands a million times. Impressive for a 10-free lacquer. —L.S.
Courtesy of brand19/19Best Special Effects: PaintboxI have a huge repertoire of polishes, and this is, by far, my most used bottle of the bunch. Paintbox’s formulas are top-notch in general: They last, go on like melted butter, and have a unique brush that gives you control so you’re not slathering your skin instead of the sides of your nail. But this matte polish is something else. I’ve applied it over every kind of formula, and it ups the ante every time—it just looks so cool and effortless. Whether you use it alone or with some glossy nail art, this polish is truly a vibe. —S.S.
Leave a Reply