Which nail polish color is best?

Whether you’re a professional manicurist looking for more colors to stock your collection or simply want a fun nail polish color for an at-home manicure, there are so many fun and vibrant nail polish colors to choose from. OPI Nail Lacquer – Bubble Bath goes on evenly and smoothly, and most of the colors look amazing with just one coat.

What to know before you buy a nail polish color

Gel vs. traditional nail polish

There are advantages and drawbacks to both gel and traditional nail polish colors.

  • Gel nail polish tends to wear longer than traditional nail polishes, typically about two to three weeks. It also provides a salon-like quality shine and isn’t as prone to wearing or chipping away from regular daily activities. And it comes in a number of different stylish colors, from vivid shimmer to classic opaque. On the flip side, gel nail polish can take a long time to apply because of the curing process, and it can be hard and time-consuming to remove since you can’t wipe it off with regular nail polish remover. You need more tools than with traditional nail polishes, and it can damage your nails, particularly if they’re already brittle and thin.
  • Traditional nail polish is easy to apply and remove, less expensive and comes in numerous colors and finishes, including matte. It dries quickly, and there’s only air drying needed. It comes with more formulas, including strengthening, fortifying and vegan. But some traditional polishes have a strong scent, and the colors can look flat and dull. It also fades and chips easily and doesn’t wear long. Some polishes only last a few days.

Clean beauty

Beauty lovers are now more conscious about what they place on their bodies, and many brands offer vegan, natural and clean beauty products by leaving out artificial ingredients and harsh chemicals. 

If you’re concerned about what you put on your body, consider finding a nail polish color that’s labeled as clean or 10-free. The term “10-free” means that the nail polish is free of 10 of the most common chemicals found in nail polishes, including ethyl tosylamide, xylene, TPHP, formaldehyde resin, formaldehyde, DBP, camphor, lead, parabens and toluene.

Wear time

Consider the wear time you want when selecting a nail polish color. Gel nail polish colors tend to last about two to three weeks at a time, while traditional nail polish colors can last as little as just a few days.

What to look for in a quality nail polish color


Think about what shade you want when searching for a quality nail polish color. You can find anything you want from neon shades to class reds to light neutral tones. 


It’s crucial to look for a nail polish color that’s highly pigmented, so you don’t need to apply as many coats. With highly pigmented colors, you typically only need to apply one to two coats to achieve an opaque nail polish color.


There are a variety of nail polish finishes available, including pearl, duochromatic, shimmer, sparkle, iridescent, opalescent, glitter and cream, so you can find a finish that works for you.

How much you can expect to spend on a nail polish

Nail polish colors range in price from about $5-$20, depending on the quality, quantity, ingredients and features of the nail polish.

Nail polish color FAQ

What is a Shellac manicure?

A. A Shellac manicure is nearly the same thing as a gel manicure, but Shellac is the name of a particular brand of gel nail polish. The two terms have been used interchangeably over time, but both kinds of manicures require using UV light to cure the nail polish and harden it into place.

Can you use regular nail polish with a gel top coat?

A. Yes. You won’t receive the same long-lasting results with regular nail polish as you would with gel nail polish, but this method makes it simpler to remove your nail polish once it begins to chip.

Are gel nails the same as acrylic nails?

A. Acrylic nails are faux nails that are set over your real nails. Once the acrylic nails are applied, the nail polish is added for color, but the process of applying the acrylic nails often leads to nail damage. Gel nails, on the other hand, are just composed of gel nail polish.

What’s the best nail polish color to buy?

Top nail polish color

OPI Nail Lacquer Nail Polish

OPI Nail Lacquer – Bubble Bath

What you need to know: This bestselling neutral OPI nail polish gets high marks for its great value and long wear. These things make OPI a popular brand for at-home and professional manicurists.

What you’ll love: This nail polish goes on easily, is super pigmented and lasts for a long time. The neutral color makes it a great shade to wear with any outfit.

What you should consider: The nail polish might be streaky if you only use one coat. OPI recommends using three coats for the best results.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Ulta

Top nail polish color for the money

Orly Pink Chocolate

Orly Pink Chocolate

What you need to know: If affordability and variety are your number one priorities, then choose this beautiful nail polish color, which provides longevity and streak-free results.

What you’ll love: This inexpensive product from a popular, trusted name brand offers reasonable wear and lasts a long time. The nail polish also comes in nearly any shade you can think of, including neutral, bold and vibrant colors.

What you should consider: Some of the colors might look different in person or chip faster.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Revlon Chip-Resistant Nail Polish - Sheer Petal

Revlon Chip-Resistant Nail Polish – Sheer Petal

What you need to know: This Revlon product offers excellent quality, just as the brand does for its other cosmetics.

What you’ll love: This nail polish color is simple to remove when needed, and most of the shades offer incredible shine that lasts. The product also lasts a really long time before peeling or chipping.

What you should consider: The shade options are limited compared to other brands.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Alex Kilpatrick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.