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9 Best Nail Polishes for the Best Manicure

Updated: Apr. 12, 2024

For a gorgeous manicure that lasts, you’ll want to add these expert-recommended polishes, base coats, and top coats to your beauty arsenal.

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Nail Polish Colorblock Ft
rd.com, via ulta.com, via target.com, via oliveandjune.com

The perfect pop of color

Looking to add a little flair—or a whole lot of it—to your everyday style? A flawless manicure with one of the best nail polishes can do that at any time of the year, but in the summer, you can get even more playful and really turn up the volume. Think of it this way: Even if it’s too hot for a full face of makeup, you can still have fun with a really great manicure. “Summer is the time to play with color,” says Samara Walker, a beauty tech and the founder of luxury vegan nail lacquer brand Àuda.B. She adds that the best colors this summer will range from bright pastels to neons, and there will be an emphasis on nail art like French manicures, negative space, and abstract art, so you can get really creative.

Whether want to splurge on a few new bottles for your at-home manicure or pedicure routine, or you prefer to buy nail polish at the drugstore and then head to your favorite salon, we have some great picks for you—ranging from traditional polishes to chemical-free polishes to the best gel nail polishes on the market. One thing to keep in mind, since you’ll be more active during the summer months: You might want to keep an eye out for chip-free formulas or top coats. You’ll also want to bookmark this information on how to make your nail polish last longer and how to remove gel nail polish, especially if you happen to be on vacation when the chipping happens.

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Smith And Cult Monaco Madness via smithandcult.com

Smith & Cult Monaco Madness

If you haven’t heard of Smith & Cult nail polish yet, it’s high time you check it out. The luxury line of fun and playful nail colors lasts up to two weeks without chipping. Polishes are also vegan and free of toxic ingredients. The hammered caps and wide bottles look stunning. We love everything from their Missed Vacations collection, but are especially fond of the ultra opaque Monaco Madness. It’s like bronzer for your fingertips. Most new shoppers get 15 percent off their first purchase.

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Olive And June Pumpkin Spice Latte Set via oliveandjune.com

Olive & June Pumpkin Spice Latte Set

Olive & June empowers women to do their nails at home. The female-founded brand offers manicure bootcamps, masterclasses on nail application, and complete mani and pedi systems with all the tools you need for nail polish application success. Olive & June drops a new line of trending and classic colors every season. Fall’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Set (available year-round) is the ultimate collection of four flattering neutrals and a shiny top coat. The streak-free formula is easy to apply and can take a beating before it chips. Thinking about getting a Russian manicure? These are the risks and benefits.

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Orly Nail Lacquer Tangerine Dream via amazon.com

Orly Nail Lacquer Tangerine Dream

Neon colors are hugely popular right now, according to celebrity nail artist Brittney Boyce, founder of Nails of LA. “Think bright lime green, tangerine orange, hot pink, and neon yellow,” she says. If you’re planning to use a solid neon, she suggests going with a shorter round or natural tip so the color doesn’t feel overwhelming. We are crushing on this gorgeous yellow-orange shade from Orly, which has the best overall nail polishes this season. Meanwhile, if you’d like to try some nail art, Boyce loves “bright pops of colors on minimal bare nails. An angled French with a bright shade or even a simple vertical color blocking down the middle of the nail can look super cool.”

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Drs Remedy Enriched Nail Polish In Perfect Petal Pink via amazon.com

Dr.’s Remedy Enriched Nail Polish in Perfect Petal Pink

If you love the look of barely-there polish, this sheer shade offers a hint of tint, so your nails will show through. This is one of the best non-toxic nail polishes you’ll find, especially since it also happens to be formulated with anti-fungal properties (an actual pair of MDs is behind the brand). Other ingredients include nail-strengthening biotin, tea tree oil, garlic bulb extract, lavender, wheat protein, and vitamins. Plus, this quick-drying, hydrating polish is vegan and cruelty-free. What’s not to love?

RELATED: This $8.99 Cuticle Oil Has More than 52,000 Positive Reviews on Amazon

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Ilnp Mega Ultra Holographic Nail Polish via amazon.com

ILNP MEGA Ultra Holographic Nail Polish

Want to know a secret about the best indie nail polish brand out there? ILNP (I Love Nail Polish) pioneered the ultra holographic trend that so many top brands have tried to duplicate. If you want a hint of holo, wear this nail polish on its own or on top of your favorite color. With more than 2,300 five-star reviews on Amazon, this polish is a fan favorite; actually, people are obsessed. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more satisfied with a nail polish,” writes verified reviewer Liz Osborn. “Not only does it look GORGEOUS in the light—it makes me feel like a unicorn—but I’m on day six and only three nails have the tiniest of chips. No curing, no waiting, two easy coats (it dries super fast), and it’s got incredible staying power.”

RELATED: This $5 Nail Product Will Give You Salon-Level DIY Manicures

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Zoya Nail Lacquer In Missy via ulta.com

Zoya Nail Lacquer in Missy

It’s hard to choose your favorite shade of Zoya nail polish, especially since the brand’s new collection is ’80s-inspired and boasts gorgeous neon shades, but we went with this bubblegum-pink shade because it’s fun and summery. Zoya nail polish is also incredibly shiny, so even after a few days of wear, your nails will still look perfectly glossy. If you’re looking for the best high-shine nail polish, congrats—you’ve found it!

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Essie Gel Couture In Steel The Show via ulta.com

Essie Gel Couture in Steel the Show

Looking to streamline your nail routine without sacrificing quality? Use this incredibly long-lasting nail polish and you’ll only need two steps. Simply apply the color directly to clean nails, and then follow with the flawless gel-like top coat. It looks amazing and surprisingly like a gel mani. Best of all, it lasts for about two weeks, even with constant keyboard activity or anything else you throw at it. “I’m beyond impressed,” writes one Ulta reviewer. “I cooked/cleaned/went in the pool. A full week so far and no chips at all!” You can’t go wrong with this peachy-bronzey shade, which looks great on any skin tone. If you accidentally spill your new purchase while you’re applying it, you’ll want this info on how to get nail polish out of just about everything.

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Deborah Lippmann Hard Rock Nail Strengthening Top & Base Coat via macys.com

Deborah Lippmann Hard Rock Nail-Strengthening Top & Base Coat

Celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann knows a thing or two about perfect manicures. Actually, she knows everything about perfect manicures. Her summer 2021 Body Electric collection includes trippy shades of pink ranging from bare to bright pink, while her totally awesome ’80s-inspired, six-piece summer nail polish set goes the full neon route. But it’s her dual action protein-rich dual use top and base coat that gets our vote for best nail strengthener. Also worth knowing: This clear nail polish is ideal for weak nails or extra sensitive nails after you remove a gel manicure.

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Essie Gel Setter Top Coat via target.com

Essie Gel Setter Top Coat

If you love the idea of a gel manicure but not the actual gel process, you really need to try this super glossy top coat. Maybe it’s magic, but this top coat is somehow plumper than most polishes and seals in a super shiny look that compares to gel manicures. The only difference is that it won’t last for weeks the way a gel manicure would. But it’s arguably the best top coat option you’ll find. Next, check out the other things you’ll need for a relaxing spa day at home.


  • Samara Walker, a beauty tech and the founder of Àuda.B
  • Brittney Boyce, founder of Nails of LA