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Best 8 Nail Polishes for a DIY Manicure

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The perfect DIY manicure is achievable with the right polish. But how do you know what polish will give you the nail look you’re after? One glance at the polish aisle (or a look online) can feel overwhelming with so many shades available. And let’s not forget those subtle differences, like matte finish versus glossy finish or how easy (or not) it is to remove nail polish.

Don’t stress over finding the perfect polish for your next DIY mani. We’ve looked into the options and narrowed them down to the best eight nail polishes to help you get a perfectly polished manicure. 

Best nail polishes overview:

How we chose the best nail polishes

To compile this list, we researched manufacturer specifications, including color options, finish types, and more, to create a short list of the top nail polishes. Then, we combed through detailed product descriptions, ratings, and reviews to find the best nail polish for each category.

Our picks for the best nail polishes

1

Best overall

OPI Nail Lacquer

  • Dries quickly
  • Lasts up to 7 days
  • Found at salons and stores

  • Somewhat pricey
  • May chip easily

There really isn’t a more iconic nail polish brand than OPI. The brand’s classic line of nail lacquers can be found at many salons, yet you can also head to a local Target or Walmart and find the same gorgeous OPI shades in the nail polish aisle. That means you can easily re-create the mani you enjoyed at the salon from the comfort of your own home. 

The brand notes its lacquer dries quickly and may last up to seven days. However, many reviews indicate the polish may chip easily, especially if you wash your hands frequently. The per-bottle price is slightly on the higher end of the polish price range, but it’s a classic go-to for any nail polish enthusiast. The brand’s original nail lacquer formula line includes 20 shades with glossy and glitter finishes, so there’s a perfect finish and color for nearly every occasion.

Shades: 20 | Finish: Glossy, glitter | Type: Lacquer

2

Best budget

Sinful Colors Bold Color Nail Polish

  • Can be found at local drug stores
  • Low price
  • Wide variety of shades and finishes

  • Polish can be quite thin
  • Glitter finishes may not be smooth

It’s hard to believe, but Sinful Colors’ Bold Color line of nail polishes can be found at some stores for less than $2. And in this Bold Color collection, you can choose from 46 shades, including a clear top coat. Within those vibrant color choices, you’ll find glossy finishes along with both metallic and glitter options. According to a few reviewers, some of the glittery polishes might feel rough rather than smooth. 

The polish might be a bit on the thin side, so you may want to double up on the coats you apply, depending on what shade you go pick out (the brand suggests applying two coats of color). This brand of polish can be found at local drug stores like Target, so it’s easy and convenient to head to the store and find your favorite new shade for that spring-inspired mani.

Shades: 46 | Finish: Glossy, metallic, glitter | Type: Lacquer

3

Best splurge

Christian Louboutin Nail Colour

  • Thin brush handle
  • Matches the brand’s iconic shoe color
  • Displayable product

  • Only a few shades
  • Small bottle for the price

This line of nail polish comes from the maker of those famous red bottom shoes (named for their red soles). This is the best nail polish if you’re willing to splurge a bit, as it’s quite pricey (considering you get a little less than one-half ounce of product). The Lalaque Le Vernis Brilliant is one of just a few shades, but this one matches the vibrant red of the brand’s shoes almost perfectly. 

The bottle itself is a work of art, with its faceted glass polish container and sleek, pointed gold top. It looks stunning, but it’s also functional. Some reviewers loved that the thin top, attached to the brush, helped them create a more precise manicure.

Shades: 3 | Finish: Glossy | Type: Lacquer

4

Best gel alternative

Dazzle Dry Mini Kit

  • Convenient kit
  • Dries quickly
  • Long-lasting

  • Difficult to remove with regular polish remover
  • Pricey
  • Need to use Dazzle Dry products together

Gel nail polishes can be tough on nails, especially if you tend to pick at your polish. This is the best gel alternative nail polish since you can purchase just about all you need in one convenient trial kit. You’ll need to use the brand’s nail prep, base coat, lacquer, and top coat together, so it can be pricey if you buy full-size bottles. 

You’ll also want to spring for the brand’s remover since the color is difficult to remove with regular polish remover (speaking from experience). However, the polish dries quickly and tends to last quite a while, though it does tend to chip if you wash your hands often.

Shades: 59 | Finish: Frost, shimmer, glossy, cream | Type: Lacquer

5

Best vegan

Ella + Mila Dream

  • Free from toxic ingredients
  • Vegan formula
  • Variety of shade and finish options

  • Chips easily
  • Works best with brand’s base and top coat

With 38 color choices and finishes ranging from glossy to glittery, Ella + Mila’s Dream collection is the best vegan nail polish. The formula itself is vegan (so no animal products) and cruelty-free.

In our experience, the polish chipped quite easily, though the brand says it’s chip resistant. For best results, you may want to use it with the brand’s base and topcoats, which adds to the cost. But we like that in addition to being vegan, it’s a polish made in the United States, and it’s 17-free, so it doesn’t contain ingredients like acetone, parabens, and other harmful chemicals.

Shades: 38 | Finish: Glitter, glossy | Type: Lacquer

6

Best glitter

Essie Set in Stones

  • High-glitter finish
  • Can layer over other polishes
  • Brand website includes “try on” feature

  • Not opaque
  • Will need multiple coats

Is bling your thing? Then Essie’s Set in Stones is the nail polish for you. It’s packed full of silver sparkles so you can get your shine on. However, it doesn’t go on opaque in one or even two coats, so you may want to layer multiple coats if you use it as its own nail color. If you want your other nail colors to sparkle, add a thin coat of this and prepare to be dazzled with the super glittery finish. 

It can be tricky to order polish online, but Essie’s website offers a helpful “try on” feature. You can select your skin tone and nail shape to see a representation of what the color might look like on you, which can help you decide whether this sparkling option is the best one for your next manicure.

Shades: 6 | Finish: Glitter | Type: Lacquer

7

Best 21-free

10+ Free Clean Nail Color

  • Plenty of shades and finishes
  • Free of 21 harmful substances
  • Strengthens nails

  • Some colors may go on sheer
  • Some polishes may be thick

It’s no surprise that this brand gets our vote for the best 21-free nail polish since its name suggests it’s free from at least 10 toxic chemicals. In fact, it’s actually a 21-free option, meaning the formula doesn’t include harmful substances like formaldehyde, parabens, sulfates, and several others. Plus, it’s even gluten-free, so it’s perfect for those who want to avoid gluten-containing products.

You’ll have 51 shades to choose from in varying finishes, from glossy to glitter to metallic. Reviewers have mentioned some of the polishes may go too sheer or may be too thick, so the number of coats you’ll need depends a bit on the color you choose. But this line actually strengthens and repairs nails that have been damaged, so it’s worth the extra coats you may need to apply to reap all the benefits.

Shades: 51 | Finish: Glossy, glitter, metallic | Type: Lacquer

8

Best quick-drying

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Color

  • 3-in-1 polish
  • Dries in 1 minute
  • Extensive shade range

  • May need multiple coats
  • May chip easily

If you’ve only got a minute to spare for a manicure, you’ll appreciate this nail polish. It’s the best quick-drying polish for a reason — it literally dries in about one minute. Plus, you don’t need a base or top coat because it’s an all-in-one polish. 

The line features 30 shades to choose from in finishes like glossy, glitter, and matte. Some of them may require more than one coat of color if you’re after a more opaque look. If you picked a more sheer option, you may want to give yourself a few more minutes of dry time just to be on the safe side. Some reviews have noted the polish chips easily, so to help avoid that, try running the brush along the edge of your nail to finish up your mani and add a little protection from chipping.

Shades: 30 | Finish: Glossy, glitter, matte | Type: Lacquer

Perfectly polished nails at home

The best nail polish for you depends on many factors, not least of which are color and finish. Our overall pick for the top nail polish goes to OPI Nail Lacquer. It’s a classic that can be found at local drug stores as well as salons. It also dries quickly and can last up to a week, plus the line includes a variety of shades as well as finishes.

How to pick the right nail polish for you

Picking your perfect polish may mean studying the label for ingredients if you prefer to avoid some of the potentially harmful chemicals often found in polish. It also means selecting the right type of finish and knowing how many coats to apply.

Ingredients

  • 3-free. These polishes don’t contain toluene, formaldehyde, or dibutyl phthalate (DnBP).
  • 10-free. These polishes may vary a bit from brand to brand, but they’re generally free of DnBP, toluene, formaldehyde, camphor, tosylamide/formaldehyde resin, parabens, and xylene. 
  • 21-free. This type of nail polish excludes even more potentially harmful chemicals, such as endocrine disrupters and other chemicals.

Finish

  • Glossy. Glossy nail polish will have a shiny finish once dried.
  • Matte. Matte finishes aren’t glossy, so they don’t have much shine once they dry.
  • Glitter. Go beyond glossy with glitter finishes that add even more sparkle.
  • Metallic. Metallic finishes aren’t glittery, but they are shiny, so they’re kind of in between glossy and glitter. 

Coats

  • Single. A single coat of nail polish is simply one coat of nail color.
  • Double. Two coats of polish are pretty typical for many nail polish brands.
  • Base. A base coat goes beneath the nail color to prepare your nail.
  • Top. Top coats seal the color to help your DIY manicure last a bit longer.

FAQ

What nail polish brands do professionals use? 

Professional salons vary in terms of the nail polish brands they use, so there’s not one “right” answer here. A common salon pick is OPI, but professionals also favor many other brands. 

Which is the best brand for nail polish?

We like OPI Nail Lacquer for a number of reasons, one being that it dries quickly. You can easily find it at local chain stores, and it helps your mani last for up to seven days.

What nail polish is the least damaging to nails?

In general, some gel nail polishes tend to be more damaging to nails than traditional polish. That’s especially true if you’re someone who tends to pick off your polish (just don’t do it!). That said, you may want to avoid darker colors that can cause your nails to turn color. You might also choose to go with a non-toxic polish that’s free from harmful chemicals.

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Best Red Nail Polishes – Our Top 10

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Red was once considered quite a bold shade and not many women would dare to incorporate it in their vanity. Times have changed today and you can see almost everyone sporting red lips and nails. When worn in the right shade suitable on your skin tone, red polish can make a dramatic impression. Dusky skin tones can look good with darker shades of red while fair to medium tones can rock reds with orange undertones. Red nail polish looks very classy and chic. What is best about the colour is that you can easily pair it with any type and colour of outfit without looking out of place. Check out some gorgeous shades of red nail polish below and take a pick of your favorite ones.

Best Red Nail Polish Shades

1. Jordana Red Flash

Flashy shade, this one is. Red Flash is a clear polish with lots of small and chunky red hexagon glitters. The polish offers very good coverage and three coats give you full opacity or you can pair it with a regular red. Perfect if you want to add something extra to your regular reds.

2. OPI I Am Not Really a Waitress

I am Not Really a Waitress is a pretty dark red in a metallic finish. It comes from OPI’s Best Of The Best collection and we think it truly belongs there. It might be quite bold for some, but would look wonderful to wear on a night out. Requires two coats.

3. OPI Jinx

opi jinx nail poilsh

This one comes from OPI’s very popular Bond Girls Collection. It is a bright coral red color with orange undertones and strong gold shimmer. Looks totally amazing with their liquid sand formula. You definitely need this OPI red glitter nail polish. Requires two coats.

4. NYX Dark Glitter

nyx dark glitter polish

Dark Glitter is truly a one of its kind polish. It has a black sheer base and is packed with fine and medium red glitters. The black is barely visible as the red glitter takes centre stage, giving it the look of a dark red polish. Pair it over a regular black polish for best results.

5. China Glaze Ruby Pumps

You would be in heaven if you could get your hands on this pretty. Coming from The Wizard of Ooh Ahz Returns Collection, it is a dark red polish packed with fine red shimmers. The shimmers give it a foil like finish. One of the most unique and gorgeous reds ever. Requires two coats.

6. Jordana Hot Red

This is our favorite red of all. Hot Red is a true red colour in a creme finish. The color is gorgeous and will suit almost all skin tones. It is our go – to shade when we can’t think of which shade to wear. Requires two coats. This blood red nail polish is to die for.

7. Orly Devil May Care

Here is the perfect polish for all the brides out there. Devil May Care is a clear polish packed with red and gold glitters. The polish is sheer is sheer so you may have to pair it over another red. We love how festive and gorgeous the shade is.

8. Zoya Sooki

Sooki is a muted cherry red shade in a creme finish. This is one shade to opt for if you are afraid of bright and bold reds. Requires two coats.

9. Zoya Carrie Ann

Carrie Ann is a cool metallic red with lots of tiny silver shimmers. The shimmers make this one super, super sparkly. Requires two coats.

10. Essie Fishnet Stockings

This one is something which almost everyone will love. Fishnet Stockings is a dark red polish in a creme finish. The shade almost leans towards maroon but is nonetheless beautiful. Requires two coats.

Now thinking to get a nail art in red? Which of these red nail polishes you like to choose? Give your feedback through comment section below.

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