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21 Best Nail Polish Brands for Your Next Manicure 2022: Essie, Sally Hansen, Orly, Jinsoon, and More

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21 Best Nail Polish Brands for Your Next Manicure 2022: Essie, Sally Hansen, Orly, Jinsoon, and More
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If you grew up in the French manicure era of the 2000s (hello, ’90s babies), you know just how far nail art has progressed. The top nail polish brands today offer a variety of nail polish types. They can be applied in a variety of ways, including basic polish, gel, dip powder, and more. Of course, there’s the usual sheer and matte finishes, but you can try switching it up with metallic, holographic, or textured finishes as well. You can achieve salon-quality manicures at home with just a few high quality nail polishes.

What makes nail polish so special? “nontoxic”?

With the clean beauty movement on the rise, your options don’t just stop at nail colors. Nail polish companies are now marketing their formulas nontoxic by labeling them as 5-free or 7-free, 10-free or 23-free. It all boils down to how the brand makes its products. 

If you’ve ever wondered where nail polish gets its strong odor, take a scan of the ingredients list. Research has shown that there are many chemicals in nail polish, and some of them can cause adverse health effects. That said, the connection between certain nail polish ingredients and their potential health effects aren’t fully understood and require further study, per Harvard Health experts

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA), the top five most common ingredients in nail products are formaldehyde or formalin, formaldehyde resin for nail polish coating, methacrylic for nail primers, phthalates for nail cracking, dibutylphthalate for nail hardeners and toluene. According to a 2018 report StudyPublished in the journal Environmental Study & Technology in 2000, nail polish brands began to label their products 3-free to exclude toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate. This labeling has grown to double the current level. “free” labeling. But because this labeling is not required to be validated by a third-party or approved by the FDA, it’s up to the nail polish brand to be explicit about which ingredients are used or in this case withheld—and sometimes when an ingredient is excluded it can be replaced with a similar potentially questionable ingredient, the study authors note. 

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The gist: Nontoxic labeling isn’t standardized, so it’s tough to figure out what, exactly, is excluded from your nail polish unless you dig deep into its ingredients list. However, free labeling is a good indication that the brand is aware and actively trying not to use certain ingredients that have been controversial about their health effects. But because most of us don’t have a background in chemistry, familiarizing yourself with the brand’s mission and ethos is another way to ensure you’re buying a product that’s aligned with your personal preferences.

What are some other common terms for nail polish?

  • Plant-based:Product (sometimes called product brush) is 100% made of plant extracts and other ingredients that are not typically derived from animals.
  • Vegan:The ingredients contain no animal products.
  • Cruelty-free:Ingredients of products not tested on animals.
  • Leaping Bunny CertifiedNo animal testing is done during product development or paid for by a third party.
  • After examining a lot of nail polishes, it was easy to narrow down the 21 you should add to your collection. You’ll note cult-favorite brands like Essie and OPI but we also found some lesser-known brands like Kokoist and OOO Polish. This form of self expression and art is important to many Black communities. We made sure our list represented the entire nail care industry, from the brands we chose to highlight to the colors we used. Here’s to healthy nails and mastering home manicures!

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