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Because your digits deserve the best, too.
It took one swipe of Gucci in Goldie Red, and I went from a person who considered nail polish an afterthought, something I’d borrow from a roommate or my mom’s stockpile, to the proud owner of a growing luxury lacquer collection. What sets these high-end polishes apart from ones I’d pick up during a grocery run are long-lasting formulas, pigmented colors, and packaging pretty enough to use as home decor.
We aren’t saying less expensive options don't tout these attributes, too. After all, brands like OPI and Essie are responsible for our favorite celebrity-launched nail trends, like Margot Robbie’s holographic mani. But, purchasing a luxury nail polish gives you the thrill of treating yourself to an illustrious, designer item without dropping a month’s worth of rent on a handbag or pair of stilettos. And, if we’re not afraid to spend a little extra on products for our skin and hair, don’t our nails deserve the same kind of pampering?
It’s not just Chanel’s signature scents or interlocking Cs that give themselves away when you wear the brand. The quality of its decade-defying, classy styles speaks for itself, whether you carry a branded satchel or sport their luxe nail polish. Chanel’s long-wearing, glossy lacquers just look lavish, and, thanks to the formula’s strengthening ingredients, like bioceramics and ceramides, so will your nails.
With more than 20 shades to choose from, you won't have a bit of trouble finding a color to match your new handbag a la Kate Middleton.. Whether you want an everyday neutral, like the impossibly chic, Chanel Organdi,or a true red, like Super Lune, there’s a shade for everyone.
Celebrity nail artist Elle Gerstein relies on Chanel’s Harmonie when she wants a neutral that compliments all skin tones. Plus, the hue is the standout shade in Arden Cho’s high-shine half-moon mani. To get the look at home, finish off the design with another of our favorites, Chanel Boy De Chanel Nail Color in 404, a striking matte black.
Bestsellers: Organdi, Ballerina, Rouge Noir | Finishes: Glossy, matte | Cruelty-Free: No
I’ll admit, TikTok first influenced me to try Gucci nail polish after I watched unboxing videos of buyers hoping to score the brand-stamped tote with their purchases. Although I wasn’t one of the lucky few, I soon discovered the polish was worth the crushed dreams. The pear-shaped glass bottles from the Vernis À Ongles collection elevate our vanities and shelfies, but it’s the brand's plant-based formula that keeps us coming back for more.
Their ultra-rich hues look like ones you’d find lining the walls and furniture of Versailles — dripping with rich color and shine. They swipe on super smoothly, too, which for an opaque shade is hard to do. It’s impossible to choose the wrong color, but we’re especially fond of the trendy 712 Melinda Green, while Goldie Red is a fantastic option for a more timeless look.
Bestsellers: Goldie Red, Ellen Blush | Finishes: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: No
Described by our editor as the “Birkin of Manicures,” Hermès’ nail polishes are as luxurious as its handbags. The brand carries 24 brilliantly pigmented lacquers and if we were forced to choose just one, we’d recommend the deep red-brown, Rouge H. It’s one of Gerstein’s favorites, and she used it to create this playfully mismatched checkerboard nail art.
There’s a lot to love about these little polishes, starting with the long, thick brush, which lets you swipe on the formula in fewer strokes and with ease.It’s also made from over 70% natural ingredients, so you can feel good about wearing the polish.
Not the least, every polish comes packaged in the instantly-recognizable orange box, which you can coordinate with the matching nail polish, Orange Boîte. For the most opulent at-home manicure, splurge for the brand’s nail files, also in the brand’s signature orange, and a smoothing hand care cream made with white mulberry extract.
Bestsellers: Orange Boîte, Rouge H. | Finishes: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: No
The French fashion brand knows how to spark a trend — rumor has it your local Sephora is still out of the Dior Lip Oil. Perhaps this is why Dior offers its gel-like polish in nearly 40 shades, so you have endless options to recreate every new nail trend that comes across your feed without fear of empty stock.
Celebrity manicurist Zola Ganzorigt, responsible for Hailey Bieber’s viral candy-cane glazed nails, says Dior polishes are terrific when you want fun, unique colors. We’d copy Hailey Beiber’s shiny manicure using bold shades like Red Smile or Désir. For something more subtle, such as the milk foam look, pair Gerstein’s top choice, Grace,a mauvy pink, with the Tutu,a soft brown. The brand’s best-seller, however, isn’t a statement-making color, but rather an incredibly wearable, subtle pink.
Dior also infuses its formula with peony and pistachio extracts, which not only sounds fancy, but these ingredients will help protect your nails.Reviewers also rave about Dior Nail Glow and its brightening effect on your nail (similar to applying blush) and they say gives them a healthy glow with one coat
Bestsellers: Rouge, Rouge Cinema, Red Smile | Finishes: Glossy, glitter | Cruelty-Free: No
No stranger to high fashion runway shows, Deborah Lipmann is a familiar face backstage at New York Fashion Week. She knows exactly what we want from nail polish — versatility, longevity and free of harmful chemicals.
Her brand formulates the Gel Lab Pro Color line with strong ingredients (but not potentially-damaging ones like formaldehyde and toluene), so you can ditch the heat lamp, but still get the same surprisingly durable, glossy finish as a gel mani. Its formula is 10-free, opting for conditioning and repairing ingredients instead, such as primrose, keratin, and biotin.
Lippmann always has her finger on the pulse on the latest mani and nail art trends and she ensures her line offers all the new colors you need to get the look at home.. We currently have our eye on Chantilly Lace, a creamy sheer shade with a jelly-like finish that gives Lizzo’s milky nails a run for their money.
Bestsellers: Miss Independent, Fire with Fire, Love Yourself | Finishes: Creme, glitter, sheer, shimmer | Cruelty-Free: Yes
My wallet sighed when Pleasing released its fairycore-inspired line of polishes (I’ve already had to drag myself away from any mushroom-related product for the past year.) The Harry Styles-founded brand is another celebrity foray into cosmetics, but as someone whose manicures regularly steal the show at red-carpet events, we trust his judgment. It also doesn’t hurt that it's a top pick from celebrity nail artist Michelle Saunders, either.
Pleasing’s collection includes sweet shades, like Sprouting, a pastel blue-green, and Syrupberry, a bright, cherry blossom pink. When it comes to daily wear and versatility, we can’t get enough of Incrível Marrom Fosco.
The ‘70s-esque deep brown works as a neutral for darker skin tones and matches just about everything in our wardrobes.
Before the psychedelic release, Pleasing initially came out with The Perfect Polish Set — a line of four pearly lacquers with iridescent and matte finishes. The brand formulates these 12-Free polishes, like the most recent release, in a biodegradable, vegan, and cruelty-free formula.
Did we mention each polish, which you can purchase individually or as a set, comes with whimsical and easy-to-apply decals for those of us who are less handy with a nail art brush?
Bestsellers: The Pleasing x Marco Ribeiro Set, Sprouting | Finishes: Glossy, sheer, matte | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Read Full Review:Harry Styles's New Psychedelic Pleasing Collection Is Here
Two coats of Emilie Heathe’s nail varnish and you’ll wonder how you lived without it — trust us.
If you want to feel the effects of a glittery eyeshadow on your nails, drip them in Billions. This liquid gold color is just one of the 14 shades we can’t stop staring at, while Public, a vibrant and feisty orange, is bold enough to cut through any boring workday.
The 10-free polish is chock full of strengthening ingredients you may recognize, like bamboo extract and vitamin E. The brand also taps lesser-known (but incredibly nourishing) notes, such as rice bran oil, an ingredient rich in amino acids that moisturize and protect your skin.
Each one results in a long-lasting polish. But, if you do find yourself needing a touch-up, the brand houses the lacquers in flat, macaron-shaped bottles that you can seamlessly slip into a clutch or coat pocket.
Bestsellers: Vengeance, The Perfect Red | Finishes: Glossy, glitter | Cruelty-Free: Yes
You know how the click-clack of Louboutin heels just sounds different? Well, wearing the brand’s striking lacquers have the same can’t-look-away vibe.
Let’s start with the bottle: It features an 8-inch, knife-sharp cap inspired by the Ballerina Ultima, the tallest Louboutin heel. If that doesn’t grab your attention, the sexy boldcolors will.
Pluminette is a bright fuchsia pink that instantly uplifts your mood for the very definition of dopamine dressing. Then there are the darker, moodier shades, like Khôl and Lady Twist, to tap a Billie Eilish-style look to master just the right amount of confidence.
The brand also says two coats of the glossy lacquer are worth 20 from traditional nail polish, so consider this an investment.
Bestsellers: Patibaba, Rouge Louboutin | Finishes: Glossy, matte | Cruelty-Free: No
Their line of polishes is only available in six shades, but each one is flashy and attention-grabbing. Digital is as blue as the Caribbean sea and dripping with gloss and Flashback, a hotter-than-hot pink will send a half-moon manicure to new heights. And we can’t help but be dazed by Acid, a space-age glittery shade you’ll never want to remove (but when you do, we’ve got you covered.) Even the top coat, infused with amethyst crystal extract, manages to feel more luxurious than your typical clear lacquer.
Every finish is lightweight and provides high-shine coverage, which we’re guessing you can probably see from outer space.
Bestsellers: Color Matter | Finishes: Glossy, matte, glitter | Cruelty-Free: No
We love keeping up with new nail trends, but our favorite might be the growing number of brands offering vegan formulas that are safe from potentially harmful ingredients. Àuda B. is a high-end brand that offers some of the best nail polishes without the 21 most controversial ingredients. It’s also Leaping Bunny and PETA-approved.
It promises a chip-free finish for up to five days and each varnish comes in a sleek glass bottle that are as pretty as the brilliant colors inside. Pucker Up Pink is a sweet, Little Bo Beep pink that we plan to keep in our rotation all year-long.
Bonus: The formula is also quick-drying, making them perfect for nail art.Metallic hues like High Fashion and Hollywood Hills, for example, mimic a preppy, Y2K-pallette ideal for when we finally try our hands at the negative space mani.
Bestsellers: Coral Sand, High Fashion | Finishes: Matte, glossy, glitter, sheer | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Pronounced “party,” which is exactly what you’ll feel like doing when wearing these brightly-colored shades, Pärdē Beauty makes their Y2K-inspired varnishes using a vegan, 21-free formula. While we’re staunch admirers of the spunky navy shade I Want to Forgive You & I Want to Forget You, which is reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s Midnights aesthetic, we also adore the aptly-named Senior Prom Spray Tan, a creamy orange, and Plant Daddy, a vibrant pea-green, for when we want a punchier look.
What’s even more attention-grabbing than Pärdē’s shades are the founders behind the queer-owned brand, Troy Solomon and Gregory Littley. They launched the Pärdē in 2021 with a focus on inclusivity: A place where everyone, regardless of gender or identity, could express themselves and have fun. Here, here, we say.
Bestsellers: The Afters, Totally Important Designer, Air Rights | Finishes: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What to Keep in Mind
One of our all-time favorite things about nail polish is that anyone can wear any color they’d like, commitment-free. Feel like wearing a slime green for a night out? Rock on. Want a disco-ball glitter bash on your fingers? Why not, we say.
But when it comes to nude colors the undertones in our skin determine how complimentary a shade will look on us.To avoid mannequin hands, it’s helpful to know your own skin undertone — warm, cool or neutral — and then to find a range of colors that work best. Ganzorigt says, for example, she has yellow undertones, so she steers clear of pinks when looking for a nude shade.
As Gerstein explains, it’s a pretty easy rule to follow. Cool-toned skin looks great with other cool tones, like Chanel in New Dawn, while warm-toned skin sticks with warmer tones, like Dior in Copper, and olive will want to choose neutral colors, like this one from Emilie Heathe. If you’re unsure what you’re undertones are, flip over your wrist and check out your veins. Blue veins equal a cool undertone, green signals warm, and neutral will be a mixture.
Pre- and Post-Care
The ultimate goal: A flawless, ultra-glossy, long-lasting, and fast-drying manicure. To make it happen, Gerstein says, "the prep has to be done beforehand and it has to be perfect."
Start by scrubbing your nails with antibacterial soap, letting them dry, and then cleansing each one with rubbing alcohol of at least 75%. “This will act like an astringent and bring your nail to the proper pH level while eliminating any dust and debris from your nail,” says Gerstein.
Before you reach for acetone in replacement of rubbing alcohol, Gerstein notes that acetone doesn’t actually cleanse the nail, and it can leave behind debris that will cause your manicure to chip or not dry. “It’s like painting on oil,” she says, adding that if your nail bed is uneven, use a ridge filler, a base coat like this one to fill in gaps and even out the nail.
We’re guilty of standing far too long in front of a seemingly endless wall of nail polishes in the salon or at the store. To help make a decision quicker, Saunders has her clients visualize their closets. Then she asks, “What color are your dresses, your sweaters, your tops?And what shades do you see in your jewelry?”
She adds that “most people know what already looks good on them. And, if you can wear a red dress you can definitely wear red nails.” However, if your wardrobe is mostly black, she recommends opting for deeper tones, while those with a more neutral color palette should look for similar shades.
Your Questions, Answered
How can you extend the life of your luxury manicure?
You spent a pretty penny on these polishes, and while chips and peeling are inevitable, our experts have a few tips for making them last a little longer. Gerstein tells us to“stick with the brand’s base coat and top coat because their formulas are really meant to work together. If you use different products the chemicals might not work well together.”
She adds applying a cuticle oil, her favorite is LeChat CBD Cuticle Oil, and resealing it with a top coat helps, too. “Using oil every day maintains the strength and flexibility of the nails,” she says.
All the experts we spoke to agree that the lasting power of your manicure depends on how you prep your nail for polish.“Imagine a wall, that wall must be smooth, buffed, spackled, and free of debris and oils for the primer (basecoat) to go on” says Saunders.“Never skip a base coat, and preferably use one that has a grip to it.” Her pick is the Grip Lock Base Coat from London Town.
Why should you opt for luxury nail polish?
Luxury brands won’t necessarily change the effect of your manicure, but they certainly offer visible perks.
“Luxury brands’ formulas and color choices can’t be duplicated — they’re unique to them,” says Gerstein “Think Hermès orange — no one could ever duplicate that color.” And then, of course, there’s the thrill of their unique packaging, like Gucci’s vintage-inspired bottles and the cottage-core designs of Pleasing’s line.
How do I paint my nails?
Gerstein recommends starting with a base coat — “think of this like the primer to your foundation,” she says. Once it dries, open your bottle and swipe any excess polish back into it. Flatten the brush and start painting the first line close to the cuticle. “Wiggle it, so it’s closer to the cuticle, and then paint a stripe straight up,” she says.
Continue this method with the left and right sides, and ensure all edges are covered. Gerstein recommends two coats followed by a top coat, cleaning any mistakes with a natural bristle brush dipped in acetone as you go. “Alternatively, you can paint the clear polish on top of your mistake and swipe it with a brush to clean it up,” she says.
Why Shop with Us
Irene Richardson is a writer with over five years of experience covering fashion and beauty trends. For this story, she asked celebrity artists Elle Gerstein, Zola Ganzorigt, and Michelle Saunders for recommendations, and personally tried several on the list to create a list of top items.
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Read the original article on InStyle.