When you’re on the hunt for a specific shade of nail polish, it can be tempting to go with whatever brand you find first. But we’re here to make the argument that certain formulas are, in fact, superior—from the ingredients (look for those that are free of harmful ingredients like formaldehyde and parabens) to the application itself. And while that may seem like a bit more homework, we’re here to assist with the official list of the best of the best nail polish brands money can buy. You’ll find new, indie up-and-comers alongside tried-and-true favorites, so you’ll always have the right shade and formula for your next mani. Read on to assemble the nail collection of your dreams.

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Jin Soon

A staple at fashion week and a beauty industry icon, Jin Soon Choi started her fantastic, eponymous line in 2012. Start with the Dandizette collection, a.k.a. the six core polishes most requested by Choi’s fashionable clientele.

Jin Soon Nail Polish in Dandy, $18, SHOP



Founded by Essie Weingarten in 1981, it’s since become a legacy in the industry—worn by celebrities, royalty (Queen Elizabeth II’s signature shade is Ballet Slippers), and just about everyone else on the planet. Their original polishes are fantastic, but the Gel Couture line is amazing anytime you want long-lasting shine.

Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish in Sheer Fantasy, $12, SHOP


Sally Hansen

When it comes to quality and affordability, few brands can compete with Sally Hansen. We love the Insta-Dri line, which sets in just 60 seconds and doesn’t even require a top coat.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dry Nail Color in Against the Grey-In, $6, SHOP



For hard-to-find shades, try this salon-loved brand, which offers over 200 polishes in both classic lacquer and gel formulas.

LeChat Dare to Wear Nail Lacquer in Moon River, $5.50, SHOP



With a focus on making clean beauty more inclusive, Auda.B’s gel-like polishes are developed to complement all skin tones—and are also vegan, 10-free, and PETA-certified.

Auda.B vegan nail polish in Front Row, $18, SHOP


Chanel Beauty

The storied fashion house also makes some of the most covetable nail colors—often debuted on their own runways. But the classic colors, such as the deep wine Vamp, are worth the investment too.

Chanel Le Vernis Longwear Nail Colour in Vamp, $28, SHOP



Housed in their chic, minimalist bottles, these pigmented polishes are like their New York City nail studio: worth coming back to again and again.

Sundays Nail Polish in No. 30, $18, SHOP



If you have even one nail polish in your bathroom, there’s a good chance it’s by OPI. A staple in salons and homes since 1981, the brand is known for its long-lasting formulas and fashion-forward shades, complete with cheeky names like “I’m Not Really a Waitress” (one of the all-time greats, in our humble opinion).

OPI Nail Lacquer in I’m Not Really a Waitress, $10.50, SHOP


People of Color

When she didn’t see brown skin properly represented in the nail industry, founder Jacqueline Carrington was inspired to start People of Color. The polishes are for everyone—but, as the company states, they are created with darker skin tones as the “first thought, not the afterthought.”

People of Color Nail Polish in Unicorn, $18;; SHOP



The brand that originated the French manicure (founder Jeff Pink created the first one in 1975), is still ahead of the curve, with its Breathable collection that nourishes nails with argan oil, pro vitamin B5, and vitamin C.

Orly Breathable Treatment + Color Nail Polish in Rehab, $9; SHOP


Deborah Lippman

As a trusted nail artist in the fashion, editorial, and red carpet worlds, Lippman knows her way around a bottle of nail polish—so you know you can trust one with her name on it. Her eponymous line features neutrals and trendy shades alike, as well as some of the best glitter polishes you’ll ever try.

Deborah Lippman Gel Lab Pro Nail Polish in Mermaids Dream, $20; SHOP


Christian Louboutin

As the story goes, Louboutin was inspired by red nail polish when designing his signature red soles. In turn, the designer’s nail lacquer bottles are inspired by (what else?) a stiletto—which actually makes it easier to apply the ultra-chic polish.

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin Matte Nail Colour in Rouge Louboutin, $50; SHOP


Smith & Cult

The “cult” in the name is fitting—the brand’s following is close to religious. Their color range is always as cool as can be, the formulas are 8-free, vegan, and gluten-free, and the cylinder-shaped bottles are pretty enough to leave out on your vanity.

Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer in Stockholm Syndrome, $18, SHOP



The bold colors will draw you in, but the vegan formula will have you stocking up. Try the Plant Power line, which is made of 73% plant-based ingredients, and bears a recyclable wood cap.

Nails.Inc Plant Power Vegan Nail Polish in And Breathe, $10, SHOP


Olive & June

Bright, cheerful, and oh-so-Cali, Olive & June is the ultimate resource for a pop of color. Plus, the polishes have a fan-shaped brush that helps you paint like a pro.

Olive & June Nail Polish in Grateful & Kind, $10, SHOP


LaPierre Cosmetics

Manicures are personal at LaPierre, which was created after the founder’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer and could only use certain nail polish brands. The shade range is vast (we particularly love the selection of brights), and each one is 10-free, vegan, and cruelty-free.

LaPierre Cosmetics Nail Lacquer in Uptown Vibes, $15, SHOP



A pioneer in “toxin-free” nail care, Zoya Reyzis created her 10-free line for a healthier alternative when she was pregnant. Over three decades—and several hundred shades—later, it’s still a favorite in salons, on runways, and beyond.

Zoya Nail Lacquer in Jen, $10.50, SHOP


Pear Nova

Vegan, 10-free, and cruelty-free—Pear Nova’s polishes make covetable shades for all skin tones. If the pop-punk revival is making you crave a moody manicure, pick this up.

Pear Nova Absorb – Classic Lacquer, $13.50, SHOP



Famously started in a dentist’s office, CND is the brand behind some of the biggest innovations in nails, including Shellac. But its long-wear nail polish is just as tech-forward (it actually gets stronger when exposed to UV light!).

CND Vinylux Long Wear Nail Polish in Cream Puff, $10, SHOP


Mischo Beauty

We’re as obsessed with the long-lasting and easy-to-wear shades as we are with the gorgeous bottle. These are polishes you’ll catch yourself Instagramming.

Mischo Beauty Unbothered, $20, SHOP

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