Nail polish is varnish applied to fingernails and toenails to give them color or shine. Nail polishes also help protect the nail plate and some polishes are even designed to boost nail growth.
Nail polishes are not always vegan and may contain a variety of ingredients derived from animals, most commonly, shellac, guanine, carmine, and oleic acid.
Many leading nail polish brands such as Essie, Sally Hansen, and OPI also test their nail polishes on animals. This, sadly, makes none of their nail polishes vegan-friendly.
To help you find the best vegan nail polishes, we have made a list of our favorite products and brands right now. Discover vegan nail lacquers that are kind to the animals and our planet.
All nail polishes below are both vegan and cruelty-free, meaning they do not include any animal-derived ingredients and are not tested on animals.
See also: Vegan Nail Polish Removers
Vegan Nail Polishes By Style
Vegan Nail Polishes By Color
Vegan Halal Nail Polishes
Vegan Gel Nail Polishes
Vegan Nail Polish Brands
Best Vegan Nail Polishes 2023
Here are the top 14 vegan nail polishes right now.
- Best overall: Sundays Non-Toxic Nail Polish
- Best runner-up: Tenoverten Natural Nail Color
- Best natural: 100% Pure Zero Nail Polish
- Best salon-quality: Jinsoon Nail Lacquer
- Best luxury: Emilie Heathe Nail Polish
- Best affordable: Zoya Nail Lacquer
- Best quick-dry: Olive & June Quick Dry Nail Polish
- Best long-wear: Butter London Patent Shine 10x Lacquer
- Best growth-enhancing: Ella+Mila First Aid Kiss
- Best sustainable: Habit Cosmetics Nail Polish
- Best base coat: Orly Bonder Rubberized Base Coat
- Best top coat: Londontown Kur Protective Top Coat
- Best for dark skin: Pear Nova Classic Nail Lacquer
- Best for kids: Piggy Paint Non-Toxic Nail Polish
Best Vegan Nail Polish Overall
Sundays Nail Polish is the best vegan nail polish. It has excellent staying power and comes in a beautiful range of colors. The non-toxic vegan polish is 10-free and enriched with essential oils. We also love the minimalist packaging and the brand’s wellness-focused ethos.
- What we like: long-lasting, chip-free
- What we don’t like: takes time to dry
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 10-free, paraben-free, made in the USA | Brand: Sundays is a 100% vegan nail care brand from New York. Founded by Amy Ling Lin, Sundays’ vegan nail salons fuse manicures with self-care and meditative practices.
Best Vegan Nail Polish Runner-Up
Tenoverten Natural Nail Color is another vegan nail polish we love. It’s quick to apply with a well-thought-out shade range – from classic nudes to bright reds to deep darks. The polish is ethically made in New York. With 2 coats, this varnish stays on for at least a week.
- What we like: easy to apply, great shades
- What we don’t like: it’s just 8-free but branded as natural
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 8-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, silicone-free, sulfate-free, recyclable packaging, naturally scented, made in the USA | Brand: Tenoverten is a 100% vegan nail polish brand from New York crafting conscious hand, foot, and nail care essentials.
Best Natural Vegan Nail Polish
If you are looking for a natural vegan nail polish, we recommend 100% Pure’s Zero Polish. It’s free of the 20 most commonly used chemicals in nail polishes and colored with natural pigments. The shades look great, especially dark ones, and the polish dries fast.
100% Pure’s polish is free of formaldehyde, toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, xylene, parabens, sulfates, fragrance, phthalates, DBP, TPHP, MIT, MEHQ, ethyl tosylamide, nonylphenol ethoxylate, acetone, bisphenol-A, gluten, palm oil, and of course, animal ingredients.
- What we like: nontoxic, quick-drying
- What we don’t like: can chip a bit (use a top coat)
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 20-free, paraben-free, palm oil-free, gluten-free, colored with natural pigments, made in the USA | Brand: 100% Pure is a cruelty-free cosmetics brand from Napa, Califonia. 100% Pure is not entirely vegan but their nail polishes are vegan.
Other natural and nontoxic vegan nail polishes we recommend are Nailtopia All-free Nail Polish, Ella+Mila 17-Free Nail Polish, Londontown Lakur Enhanced Color, Karma Organic Nail Polish, and Pacifica Plant Magic Polish.
Best Salon-Quality Vegan Nail Polish
Jinsoon offers the best salon-grade vegan nail polish. It’s a whopping 21-free and very durable, chip-free, low odor, and easy to apply. It really doesn’t chip, rather fades in time. Jinsoon also has a stylish runway-inspired color range to complement all skin tones.
- What we like: pro-grade polish, low odor, great neutrals
- What we don’t like: thin formula, needs 2 coats
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 21-free, paraben-free, synthetic fragrance-free, made in the USA | Brand: Jinsoon is a 100% vegan nail polish and nail spa brand founded by manicurist Jin Soon Choi. Jinsoon nail polishes are designed to be eco-friendly yet high-performance.
Best Luxury Vegan Nail Polish
Emilie Heathe’s luxury vegan nail polish has the most beautiful packaging. It looks like a perfume bottle and makes for a wonderful gift – especially as this vegan nail polish set. The polish is also amazing. It’s long-wearing and strengthens the nails with seabuckthorn oil and biotin.
- What we like: beautiful package, nail-strengthening polish
- What we don’t like: it’s expensive
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 10-free, paraben-free, enriched with natural extracts, nail growth-boosting, recycled glass packaging | Brand: Emilie Heathe is a conscious beauty brand by a makeup artist of the same name. Emilie Heathe is not entirely vegan but their nail polishes are.
Best Affordable Vegan Nail Polish
Zoya has our favorite affordable vegan nail polish. It has great coverage and staying power with pretty colors to choose from. For 12 dollars, you’ll get a reliable drugstore vegan nail polish with a quality similar to OPI’s. The polish is also 10-free and breathable.
- What we like: affordable, durable, chip-free
- What we don’t like: thin texture, can peel
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 10-free, paraben-free, halal, made in the USA| Brand: Zoya is a cruelty-free natural nail polish brand. All Zoya nail polishes are 100% vegan, the company is yet to give us more information on their nail care products.
Best Quick-Drying Vegan Nail Polish
If you like to get your home mani done fast, Olive & June has the best quick-dry vegan nail polish. It dries in seconds and one coat is already enough for beautiful coverage (even though two is always better). We also like the convenient fan-shaped brush and glossy finish.
- What we like: dries in a flash, affordable
- What we don’t like: can chip (use a top coat)
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 15-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, sulfate-free, made in Korea | Brand: Olive & June is a 100% vegan nail polish brand and nail salon from California. They offer salon-grade polishes and nail essentials at accessible prices.
Best Long-Wearing Vegan Nail Polish
Butter London Patent Shine is the best long-wearing vegan nail polish. This is your heavy-duty varnish that will stay on without chipping or fading for well over a week. We also love the elegant range of shades and its famous high-shine, gel-like finish.
- What we like: lasts long, beautiful high-shine finish
- What we don’t like: can leave streak marks
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 10-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, made in the UK | Brand: Butter London is not entirely vegan. Their regular nail lacquers contain silk but their Patent Shine collection is vegan-friendly. Butter London is PETA-certified animal test-free though.
Best Growth-Enhancing Vegan Nail Polish
Ella+Mila First Aid Kiss is the best vegan nail polish for nail growth. It works by hardening and strengthening weak and brittle nails. It boosts nail growth by protecting the nail plate and stopping the nails from splitting or peeling. It also nourishes the nails with vitamin E.
- What we like: helps nails grow longer and stronger
- What we don’t like: it could be richer in vitamins
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 17-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, vitamin-enriched, nail growth-boosting, made in the USA | Brand: Ella+Mila is a 100% vegan nail polish brand from Los Angeles. Ella+Mila is also officially certified vegan and cruelty-free by PETA and Leaping Bunny.
Best Sustainable Vegan Nail Polish
Habit Cosmetics has the best sustainable vegan nail polish. The polish is toxin-free and comes in eco-friendly packaging of recycled plastic and biodegradable bamboo caps. The natural nail polish is enriched with myrrh to hydrate and strengthen the nails.
- What we like: sustainable packaging, great bright shades
- What we don’t like: can chip (wear with a top coat)
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 10-free, fragrance-free, paraben-free, gluten-free, enriched with natural extracts, made in the USA | Brand: Habit is a 100% vegan and black female-owned beauty brand. Habit is officially certified vegan and cruelty-free by PETA and Leaping Bunny.
Best Vegan Base Coat Nail Polish
Orly Bonder is the best vegan base coat. You could buy the cheapest varnish and this base coat will hold it in place for a long time. It works like a double-sided tape clinging on tightly to both the nailbed and the varnish. It also helps the nail polish glide on smoother.
- What we like: truly makes the nail polish last (also works for nail powders)
- What we don’t like: not the most natural formula
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, DBP-free, toluene-free, formaldehyde-free, alcohol-free, paraben-free, made in the USA | Brand: Orly is a family-owned nail polish brand from Los Angeles. Orly is also Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free and their nail polishes are all vegan.
Best Vegan Top Coat Nail Polish
We swear by 3 products from Londontown: their Nail Concealer, Lakur Polish, and this Protective Top Coat. This vegan top coat extends the wear of the polish significantly and gives the prettiest glossy finish. It also strengthens the nail with minerals and vitamins.
- What we like: best shine and protection
- What we don’t like: it’s quite expensive
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 7-free, gluten-free, UV-resistant, made in the USA | Brand: Londontown is a PETA-certified animal test-free nail polish brand. All Londontown products are vegan, except for Restorative Nail Cream and Fresh Glow Cuticle Remover & Serum.
Best Vegan Nail Polish For Dark Skin
Black-owned brand Pear Nova has the best vegan nail polish for dark skin. This salon-quality polish is designed to flatter all skin tones. We especially love the brown and gray shades, metallics, and bright reds. The polish is infused with argan oil to moisturize the nails.
- What we like: best shades for dark skin, quick-drying
- What we don’t like: would love to see more shades
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, 10-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, fragrance-free, enriched with natural extracts | Brand: Pear Nova is a 100% vegan and black-owned nail polish brand from Chicago. Pear Nova is also officially PETA-certified vegan and cruelty-free.
Best Vegan Nail Polish For Kids
Piggy Paint has a fantastic vegan nail polish for children. It’s all-free, water-based, and virtually odorless, so kids of all ages can enjoy the polish. Actually, everyone can enjoy this natural toxin-free vegan nail polish, including pregnant women. ‘Natural As Mud’ indeed.
- What we like: all-free, safe, no odor
- What we don’t like: takes time to dry
Features: vegan, cruelty-free, all-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free, gluten-free, scentless, water-based, child-friendly, pregnancy-safe, made in the USA | Brand: Piggy Paint is a 100% vegan and cruelty-free nail polish brand. Their polishes are toxin-free and safe for kids.
Best Vegan Nail Polishes By Style
Are you looking for something more specific? We’ve selected top vegan nail polishes based on style and technology. Discover trendy vegan varnishes from holographic to neon.
- Best holographic vegan nail polish: ILNP Holographic Nail Polish
- Best metallic vegan nail polish: Heroine Nyc Gold Metallic Nail Polish
- Best glitter vegan nail polish: Cirque Colors Glitter Nail Polish
- Best matte vegan nail polish: Ella+Mila Matte-Ly In Love Top Coat
- Best high-shine vegan nail polish: Nailboo Max Gloss Nail Polish
- Best neon vegan nail polish: Color Club Neon Nail Lacquer
- Best gel-effect vegan nail polish: Nails Inc Gel Effect Polish
- Best vegan nail polish strips: Dashing Diva Nail Strips
- Best vegan nail polish powder: Revel Nail Dip Powder
For more fun vegan nail stuff, Cirque Colors also has the best magnetic vegan nail polish and vegan mood nail polish. We also love the zodiac vegan nail stickers from Jinsoon and custom vegan nail polishes from Color Club.
Best Vegan Nail Polishes By Color
Here are the best vegan nail polishes for every color. From elegant nudes to bright red and deep greens – pick out a vegan nail varnish in your favorite shade.
- Nude vegan nail polish: Londontown Lakur Cheerio
- Pink vegan nail polish: Zoya Nail Lacquer Joey
- Red vegan nail polish: Sundays Chili Pepper Red
- Purple vegan nail polish: Ella+Mila BonBon Dulce Amor
- Black vegan nail polish: Butter London Union Jack Black
- White vegan nail polish: Dazzle Dry White Lightning
- Blue vegan nail polish: Tenoverten Nail Color Austin
- Green vegan nail polish: Nailboo Exotic Emerald
- Teal vegan nail polish: Nailtopia Seas The Day
- Grey vegan nail polish: 100% Pure Zero Polish Graphite
- Taupe vegan nail polish: Olive & June RP Creamy Taupe
- Brown vegan nail polish: Pear Nova Michelle Our Momma
- Yellow vegan nail polish: Karma Naturals Rise & Shine
- Orange vegan nail polish: Jinsoon Nail Polish Pastiche
Best Vegan Halal Nail Polishes
These water-permeable and breathable halal nail polishes are vegan and cruelty-free. Many of these vegan nail colors are also certified halal.
- Mersi Halal Nail Polish
- Karma Halal Nail Polish
- 786 Cosmetics Halal Polish
- Tuesday in Love Halal Polish
- Vivre Cosmetics Nail Polish
- Nailberry L’Oxygene Nail Polish
Best Vegan Gel Nail Polishes
Looking for pro-grade vegan gel nail polishes? Here are the best cruelty-free vegan gel nail polishes on the market.
- Londontown Gel Color Collection
- Color Club Nail Gel Polish
- Pear Nova Gel Nail Lacquer
- Nailboo Forever Glaze Gel
- Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro – no UV needed
Best Vegan Nail Polish Brands
These nail polish brands are 100% vegan. Shop cruelty-free vegan nail varnishes and vegan nail care products from these verified companies.
- Auda. B: 10-free luxury vegan nail lacquer brand, black-owned
- Cirque Colors: 10-free vegan nail polish handmade in New York
- Color Club: a wide choice of pro-grade vegan nail polishes made in NY
- Ella+Mila: vegan nail polishes and nail care products, up to 17-free
- Habit: sustainably packaged vegan nail polish, black-owned
- Heroine: 9-free cruelty-free and vegan nail lacquers from New York
- ILNP: famous holographic vegan nail polishes handmade in Las Vegas
- Jinsoon: 21-free vegan nail lacquers and nail spas from New York
- Jolie Vegan: PETA-certified vegan nail polish brand from Chicago
- Karma: vegan and halal nail polishes made in the USA
- LVX: 10-free luxury vegan nail colors and nail care treatments
- Nailboo: salon-grade vegan nail care, polishes, and dip powders
- Nailtopia: all-free natural and bio-sourced vegan nail polishes
- Olive & June: Californian vegan nail polish and nail care brand
- Pear Nova: black-owned vegan nail polish brand from Chicago
- Sundays: non-toxic vegan nail varnish and nail spas from New York
- Tenoverten: natural vegan nail polish and nail care from New York
What Makes Nail Polish Vegan?
Nail polish is vegan if it does not contain animal products or byproducts. Also, vegan nail polish must not be tested on animals.
The most common animal-derived components in nail polish are shellac, guanine, carmine, and oleic acid.
- Shellac – high-gloss ingredient produced by female lice
- Guanine – aka pearl essence, shine agent made from fish scales
- Carmine – deep red dye made of crushed red beetles
- Oleic acid – nail polish thickener made out of animal fat
Sometimes, nail polishes also include hydrolyzed silk (from silkworms) and thickening xanthan gum of animal origin. Xanthan gum is mostly vegan-friendly though.
Instead of shellac and guanine, vegan nail polishes use other shine agents such as natural mica crystals. Red dye can be also derived from a variety of red vegetables such as beet.
In terms of thickeners, nail polishes have a wide variety of vegan-friendly agents to choose from. Even oleic acid can be plant-derived, so animals are really not needed in the thickening process.
What To Look For In A Vegan Nail Polish?
When shopping for vegan nail polishes, always choose a polish that has the least amount of chemicals in them.
When painting your nails, you do not want to breathe in the fumes of dibutyl phthalate, toluene, or other chemicals linked to health hazards.
Today, you can find lists of harsh chemicals and toxins to avoid. Nail polish brands call themselves accordingly: 5-free, 6-free, 9-free, or even 16-free and 21-free.
For example, 5-free means the nail polish is free of the ‘Toxic 3’ – dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, and formaldehyde as well as formaldehyde resin and camphor.
So when buying vegan nail polish, do not settle for anything less than 5-free. That way, you can enjoy an ethical polish that is also safe for you and our planet.
How We Review Vegan Nail Polishes
At Vegan Avenue, we review vegan nail polishes by trying them out for ourselves. We also do extensive brand research and read countless online reviews to match our experience with other users and beauty experts. None of our reviews is incentivized by the brand or retailer.
Here are our main criteria when reviewing vegan nail polishes.
- Ingredients: With good-quality vegan nail polishes, it all starts with clean ingredients. We specifically look at how many toxic chemicals the producer avoids. We also like when vegan nail polish includes some nail health-boosting natural extracts or vitamins.
- Performance: While we prefer non-toxic vegan lacquers, we still expect the nail polish to look good and stay on. We look for long-wearing and easy-to-apply formulas. It’s also important that the application is streak-free.
- Brand: Being a fully vegan brand and having any external certifications, sustainability goals, and ethical brand values are important to us when forming the vegan nail polish rankings. We also prefer brands that produce locally in the USA.
FAQ About Vegan Nail Polish
Nail polish can be vegan but it often is not. The typical ingredients that make nail polish not vegan are shellac, guanine, carmine, and oleic acid.
Yes. Vegans can wear nail polish if the nail polish is vegan, i.e. free of animal-derived products and not animal tested.
Some of the 100% vegan nail polish brands include Sundays, Tenoverten, Ella+Mila, Jinsoon, Cirque Colors, Color Club, Habit, and ILNP.
The best vegan nail polish is Sundays Non-Toxic Nail Polish.
The best drugstore vegan nail polishes are Zoya, Orly, and Pacifica.
Vegan nail polish is not necessarily better or worse than non-vegan nail polish. Choosing vegan nail polish is primarily an ethical choice. That being said, vegan nail polishes tend to have more natural and toxin-free formulas than non-vegan polishes.
You can find the best selection of vegan nail polishes online, especially on Amazon, Ulta, and Target.
No. OPI nail polishes are not vegan because OPI tests on animals. That being said, OPI’s Nature Strong collection is made from vegan-friendly ingredients and is even certified vegan by The Vegan Society.
No. Sally Hansen’s nail polishes are not vegan because Sally Hansen uses animal testing. Even though Sally Hansen’s Good.Kind.Pure. collection is free from animal-derived ingredients, we cannot consider any of Sally Hansen’s products vegan.
No. Essie’s nail polishes are not vegan since Essie tests on animals.
No, Maybelline products are not vegan since the company tests on animals.
No. Sinful Colors tests on animals, so none of their polishes are vegan.
Today, vegan nail polish is easier to find than ever before. From vegan nail lacquers to glitter and magnetic nail polishes – nail beauty in 2023 has gone cruelty-free and vegan.
When choosing vegan nail polish, you will almost always get the more natural option. Vegan polishes are free of toxic chemicals and packed with natural, skin-friendly pigment.
There are so many vegan nail brands that deserve the spotlight. Our current favorite vegan nail polish brands are Sundays, Tenoverten, Zoya, Ella+Mila, and Jinsoon.
Our quest to find new vegan nail polishes does not end here. As we meet new brands and lines all the time, we will add the best ones to this very list.
See also: Vegan Nail Polish Removers
Main image: courtesy of Sundays