One tester said: “The rounded, flat brush made application so easy, and the translucent, pink shade is subtle but gives me mermaid vibes. This will be my new go-to nail polish when I want a quick, classic manicure.”
Just so you know: Most evidence that over-the-counter nail strengtheners work is anecdotal, one expert previously told SELF. Still, it’s never a bad idea to hydrate and protect your nails.
The Best Quick-Dry Nail Polish: Olive & June Quick Dry Polish
Quick-dry polish is a godsend for anyone who’s short on patience (or time). But often it goes on too thin or leaves streaks. This wasn’t the case with Olive & June’s, which one tester said was shiny, fast-drying, and came in a pleasing array of colors.
Bonus points, per the experts: You won’t find formaldehyde in this product, which is common in many other polishes—and can irritate skin.
One tester said: “This polish stayed on my nails for almost a week—pretty long for an at-home manicure. It was easy to apply and dried quickly.”
The Best Nail Polish: Zoya Hattie
Per one tester, Zoya’s Hattie shade manages to be “the perfect elevated neutral.” The creamy rose pigment is versatile enough for year-round wear, and it has a substantial consistency, easy-grip brush, and speedy drying time.
One tester said: “Even without a topcoat, the polish still felt like it cured into a super-thick, long-lasting, perfect mani.”
The Best Nail Polish (Splurge): Gucci Vernis à Ongles Nail Polish Shade Extension
Our tester couldn’t get enough of Gucci Vernis à Ongles’s long-lasting, high-gloss pop of color—and how easy it was to apply, thanks to its wide, oval-shaped brush. It’s pricey, sure, but could absolutely be worth the cost for any mani/pedi devotee. (Or make the perfect gift.)
Bonus points, per the experts: This product is formulated without formaldehyde, an ingredient in many nail polishes and strengtheners that experts say can cause skin irritation.
One tester said: “The polish provided great payoff, with minimal to no pooling in the cuticles. I was most impressed by the colors: I tried blue, cream white, and hot magenta shades that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”
Just so you know: Like many polishes, Gucci’s is made with alcohol, which can be drying.
The Best At-Home Gel Mani: Dashing Diva Glaze Semi-Cured Gel Nail Strips in Jelly Glaze
Our manicure-averse tester was amazed by how easy it was to use Dashing Diva’s gel nail strips, which are thin, flexible stickers you apply and cure on your nail from the comfort of your home. The tester said that all they had to do was trim the strips to fit their nails, hold them under an LED light for 45 seconds, and boom, they looked just as good as a professional mani. (Conveniently, a free mini LED lamp is included with any purchase of Glaze nails too.) Taking off the nails is simple: All you have to do is use cuticle oil and a wood manicure stick to gently loosen and lift the strip away.