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Your Top Five Picks For Best Nail Polish

Illustration by Sam Woolley
Illustration by Sam Woolley

Nail polish, an ostensibly useless item of which I posses hundreds upon hundreds, is really difficult: It’s difficult to apply, it always chips, and that shit gets all over my cuticles. On Monday, we asked you to share your communal know-how and oh boy, did you ever. From ESSIE to Sally Hanson, we rounded up the five most essential polish products. And without further adieu, go forth and vote.

​Note:​ We came so close to including Orly Bonder but alas, it’s a basecoat and not a polish. But don’t let that stop you from purchasing this near magical rubberized product!


Essie, the fairy godmother of nail polishes, is a salon staple. And for good reason: the colors are damn near perfect. Led by cosmetics impresario Essie Weingarten, you’ll find the pastel pop hues in over 25,000 salons which, for the uninitiated, is many salons. Here’s what a few of you had to say:

I find their color selection the most vast and generally appealing/trendy. The coverage is great and brush is easy to work with. - TanyaFace

I use Essie a lot, because it’s what most nail places have on hand. I like it well enough, but the color application can be off (sometimes I need 3 coats to match what it looks like in the bottle). And I don’t find it to be terribly long lasting. Color selection is great, though!-olivianewtonjohn

If you believe that all nail polishes are created equal, then the magic truly lies in the topcoat. In this case, that topcoat should probably be Seche Vite, a top secret elixir that ensures forever nails. The only downside? It may never come off.


Nominating a topcoat, specifically (already noted, but unfortunately it’s in a post that also names another brand, so if we star it no one will know what we’re voting for):Seche Vite.

But it is incredible. Dries in about ten minutes to a usable finish (and total hardness in about half an hour), shiny and smooth, very difficult to chip and dent, can be used over any brand of polish.Because it bonds to the polish, not the nail, apply sparingly! Otherwise it will shrink your polish.

I am one of those people who loves getting a manicure, but the moment we’re done, I want to be out the door. Sitting around waiting for it to dry is agony for me. I’m also hard on my nails. Neither of these things is a problem using Seche Vite!

In addition to the link provided, this is also available at many chain drugstores, including CVS. - DontBeSuchaBoobPunchTina

I believe that nail polishes are pretty much created equal, which is why I think the top coat is the most important step. To that end, I nominate Seche Vite, a quick dry top coat that is also a miracle. It turns any mani into a shiny, self-leveled delight. I’m a big nail polish gal and have a lot of experience with NP; the only time they perform wonderfully is on fake nails. My top coat is the one thing I can’t do without. From Pure Ice to Butter, Seche Vite makes the mani. -mlhfbwtf


Sally Hanson, the matriarch of old school nail polish, needs no introduction. Here are are some of the fawning things you had to say about miracle gel.


lly Hansen Miracle Gel. It is literally the only thing that will stay on my nails without chipping for more than a day. It stays better than actual gel manicures half the time & without destroying my nails. - heathershae

Agreed, this stuff is amazeballs. Once wore it for a month before finally getting around to taking it off. I mean, it was chipped as helllllll, but only as much as you’d expect from maybe a 10 day old manicure with regular polish. - Rachel Feltman


Oh boy, do you guys ever love Zoya. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t painted my nails in over a year and your praises have me considering a comeback tour. I’m not even going to get into it, because it’s obvious that all of you factually know more than me. Onward with your abundant praise!


The only reasonable answer to this question is Zoya.


1. 5-free

2. Gorgeous colors and finishes (especially PIXIE DUST)

3. Literally stays on my nails for over a week without chipping (I should note here that I use their base coat and top coat for this and that for some reason other bases/tops do not have the same results. Also I put Seche Vite on top of the Zoya top coat and it is the shiniest motherfucking shit.)

4. They are constantly running promotions on their website, e.g. 4 polishes for $15, or their annual Earth Day thing where you send in your old “toxic” polishes and in return get 50% off each Zoya polish you purchase.

(You’re welcome, Zoya.)


ZOYA is the best. They’ve got a great color selection and THE BEST metallics. Trixie is a perfect silver foil. Freja is a gunmetal pencil lead gray. They discontinued Penny (the exact color of a new penny) so I’m exploring their other coppery colors and have high hopes for Autumn.

They’re a little light on the neons but they’ve got a couple. - teagurl

Yup, Zoya all the way. It’s witchcraft: the coverage is solid, but the consistency is thin enough that it spreads without leaving any streaks, even with the sheer shades. It can’t keep me inside the lines, but is otherwise idiot-proof. Without a top- or base-coat, I can get a solid workweek out of an application with just some wear on the edges, no chipping. - Abroun


And, finally, the drugstore beauty aisle veteran: O.P.I. For a low-end polish, it has everything you need: Above-average coverage, easy application, and risqué names. Here’s what some of you had to say:

I am a big fan of O.P.I nail polish, particularly the metallic ones. The colors flow on nicely and dry quickly without losing their sheen. O.P.I. colors are varied, their endurance is above average and the names of the polish amusing. - Maezeppa


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