Best Nail Polish: The 2023 Glam Beauty Awards

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Some would rather leave their nail woes and ventures to the pros, and while that's perfectly valid, we at Glam never shy from a challenge. This is why we set out to find the best nail polish you can find in stores and online with ease. (In this economy, no one has time or money to search countless stores — or sites, for that matter — for the right product.)


Each polish presents plenty of positives, as well as some negatives, but through the weeds, we found not only one that shines far brighter than the rest but also four that sparkle best in specific circumstances. But what makes the best nail polish? Ideally, we want our polish to dry quickly but not too quickly, as we all could use a little wiggle room for fixing streaks or excess product. We also want the advertised pigment: If a product is meant to be deep and full-coverage, it should be so, just as sheerer options should provide the intended result. Finally, the price tag should reflect the quality. That said, one polish glazed over our eyes and hearts alike.

Read more about the 2023 Glam Beauty Awards methodology and all the top picks here.


Best Overall: Olive & June Nail Polish

Olive & June is a sleeper hit in the nail community, rising to prominence in recent years, and now we understand the growing hype. This pink polish dazzled, and for its price tag — $11 for a tube that could last months, even if worn regularly — it made its case very clear. Yes, some polish sets retail for $11 and offer more options for the same amount of money, but if you're looking for a staple color for your routine, you can't go wrong with this one.


The best part about using this polish was its application. Its formula was the perfect consistency, lending itself brilliantly to a one-and-done swipe process. Unlike polishes that pool at the sides of your nail, Olive & June's product stayed in place and dried in about 30 seconds — enough time to clean up any messes if you had any, but we found that it wasn't necessary here. This polish comes in shades of blue, green, beige, and more, so next time you're at Target doing some retail therapy, don't skip the nail section. 

Purchase the Olive & June Nail Polish (Pink) at Target for $10.99.

Best gel nail polish: Le Mini Macaron 1-Step Gel Polish

If you're unfamiliar with gel polishes, this option from Le Mini Macaron — the cutest name on the market — would be a great place to start. Some gel polishes crack easily whether fresh or a week old, but this 1-Step Gel Polish sticks true to its name, creating a deep burgundy canvas that doesn't budge once set with a nail lamp. The deep pigment is what drew us in, and its performance kept us hooked.


This polish bled a little bit, but among the gel options, it reigned supreme. Plus, it's available in nearly countless color options, so you can build a gel polish brigade with this brand's potent formula. If we hadn't convinced you of its top gel spot yet, you should also know that it hugs the edge of your nails especially well, meaning you won't have weak nail ends — a common pitfall among cheaper polishes. Perhaps this one has warranted the $13 price tag!

Purchase the Le Mini Macaron 1-Step Gel Polish at Ulta for $13.

Best polish for trying nail trends: Kur Perfecting Nail Veil by Londontown

In recent years, nail trends have become essential beauty regimens no matter if you create them at home or schedule a salon visit. If you're not rocking a unique mani on Instagram, are you even posting? (Okay, that's at least what some influencers would say.) For us, the Kur Perfecting Nail Veil by Londontown is the perfect shade to try nearly any nail trend. It's sheer and a little looser in consistency as compared to other polishes on this list, which means it can act as an excellent base for anything you want to add to it. At the same time, it stands alone well, though you might need a second coat if you go this route since it's so sheer.


The 2023 beauty scene calls for milk bath nails and metallic, Barbiecore manicures ahead of Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" release, and if these scream your name, this is the route to go. Its sheerness is both its greatest asset and weakness, and it's more expensive than its predecessors on this list, so be sure you want to commit to this before purchasing.

Purchase the Kur Perfecting Nail Veil by Londontown on Amazon for $20.

Best multi-purpose polish: Habit Cosmetics Nail Polish

White polish is a classic for a reason, and Habit Cosmetics' Moon Rock option is a great answer to a field saturated with white and off-white varieties. Whites and blacks are hard to nail in cosmetics. Black is harder, but white, too, has its issues, often proving watery and not stark enough, but this Habit Cosmetics polish is eggshell-white in the best way. It's sturdy and lasts a long time, and it would particularly work well with nail designs. Using this to create nail art on top of a Kur Perfecting Nail Veil base is a dream mani in the making (and now we have weekend plans). 


The main downside is its price tag. While it's a great white, a single — and, we must admit, small — bottle costs $19. If you're a regular wearer, this price tag would add up quickly, but if you want a quality white to use for designs or other sparser but highly pigmented tasks, this is a great option for you.

Purchase the Habit Cosmetics Nail Polish (Moon Rock) on Amazon for $19.

Best atmospheric polish: Essie Gel Couture Caviar Bar

The late Queen Elizabeth II wore the same nail polish for over 30 years, and if a $10 polish from the beloved brand Essie is enough for royalty, it's definitely good enough for us. However, we're not talking about Ballet Slippers here; instead, we dove head-first into Essie Gel Couture Caviar Bar and left living out our blueberry muffin dreams. This gel polish is richly pigmented and glides on like butter. In fact, it's so pigmented that it stained the skin a little bit when applying it — too much of a good thing?


Nevertheless, this polish is an atmospheric dream perfect for religious ceremonies, work-from-home ensembles, bars, school, and anything in-between. It would be perfect with gold flakes to resemble the night sky, but no matter where you wear it, you will look and feel like the moon goddess Artemis herself — bow and arrow and all.

Purchase the Essie Gel Couture Caviar Bar on Amazon for $9.99.