Going cruelty-free is in no way difficult, but sometimes it can be awkward. With makeup and skincare, there are a huge number of well-renowned cruelty-free brands just waiting on you to buy them. Nail polishes, not so much. Unfortunately the number of chemicals in a nail polish seems to have made it harder for companies to go cruelty-free. It’s one item I’m always having to search for new brands of, as there just aren’t any mainstream companies who sell cruelty-free nail polish. Here are my top 10 cruelty-free nail polish brands: they’re easily accessible, fairly affordable and kind to animals.
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1. Wet n Wild
Whilst Wet n Wild have recently launched in the UK on Beauty bay – read about it here! – it only seems to be the makeup and brushes, as opposed to the cruelty-free nail polishes. However, if you’re US or Europe based you can hopefully get your hands on more of their cruelty-free goodness, and in the UK you should be able to order from Amazon. I love the ‘One Step Wonder’ polishes; they come in a huge range of strong, bold shades and they last a really long time on my nails. As someone who’s nail polish normally chips within the hour, I can highly recommend these for longevity. The brush is amazing too; it’s really wide meaning that one stroke basically coats your entire nail. I find this so much easier to work with, and is definitely my motivation for owning a few of the shades. Not to mention – they’re dirt cheap.
2. Barry M
Barry M are such an affordable company that I always kind of expected their products to be, uh, cheap and nasty. Thankfully it turns out I was wrong, and they actually have some really nice, cruelty-free products. Their nail polishes are really easy to apply and last a good while. I love the ‘Under the Sea’ range (Side story: my first ever Instagram post was of a Barry M ‘Aquarium Collection’ polish. I didn’t even know anything about animal testing back then. Things come full circle in some ways!) and the ‘Gelly’ polishes, though I’ve heard plenty of good things about the others. All of the cruelty-free polish collections have a huge colour choice and come in sturdy and cute packaging. They even have nail care products, too.
3. Models Own – lots of vegan options
Models Own have a lot of nail products in a lot of different colours. I have one from their ‘HyperGel’ range, and it has a really pretty finish. It’s in the shade Robin Red. It stains my nails a bit, but maybe that just implies it’s long lasting(?!). I do find it rubs off the tips of my nails fairly quickly, but it doesn’t chip or scrape off easily so that’s a significant positive. The brush is also HUGE, almost to the point of spilling over the edges of my nails. Almost, but not quite. It takes a little getting used to.
4. Nailberry – all vegan, 12 free
Nailberry products are a really cool concept; they’re oxygenated to allow your nails to breathe. I know that my nails tend to flake and peel when I suffocate them with varnish for longer than a few days, so I like the idea of a nail polish being healthy, as well as cruelty-free. I have the shade Lait Fraise, and whilst it’s a bit garish on my pale skin, I feel that a product like this would pop if I had a tan. Application takes a little while to get used to – the brush is exceptionally thin and the liquid pretty runny, so you will tend to find that when you think you’ve cleaned the brush off on the side of the bottle a huge drop will suddenly fall onto your nail. This in turn can make application streaky. After a few uses, though, you learn to work with it, and in turn you get bright and healthy nails.
I remember when I was searching for a grey nail polish to make up for the loss of my Essie Chinchilly when I went cruelty-free. I found the stunning Zoya shade Kristen; it’s a bit lighter and much more blue-toned than Chinchilly but honestly I think I might prefer it. It can work all four seasons due to it’s being both a pastel and a neutral, and the quality is really good. It doesn’t streak upon application, and it lasts a good while. Plus, I love the bottle shape. The brush is a bit too thin for my liking, though.
H&M came out with a new cruelty-free beauty range a few years ago, and with constant releases, haven’t looked back since. They have a whole tonne of polish shades with different finishes. I personally find their varnishes that I’ve tried to lack pigment and take a few layers to build up to the point where you can’t see my nail underneath. And with each layer, it gets stickier. I posted this opinion on Instagram a couple of Summers ago and was given the advice to paint it over an opaque white shade. I’m not sure if it’s only an issue with certain colours from the H&M line – I’ve definitely heard other people recommend them – but I’m hoping this is the case. The H&M makeup itself is amazing and I always encourage other people to try it. Maybe theres a polish that will work better for you.
7. Nails Inc – vegan and 6-free range
In one of the M&S beauty boxes, I received a Nails Inc clear top coat. It’s the best I’ve ever used, and I keep forgetting to purchase another one! It made my varnish last such a long time, and left it with a strong finish as opposed to an easily smudged or dented texture. (If that makes any sense whatsoever.) One thing I would say about it is that it dries exceptionally quickly into a gel-like texture. If you apply it with a bit of a mistake, and go over it immediately after, the brush will skip over the polish and the whole thing will become a bit messed up. So if you have a mishap just leave it to settle, and if you need to go over it again, wait until it’s fully dry!
8. Leighton Denny – 3-free
I have a polish from Leighton Denny which I’ve been asked about a few times due to the fact it looks like gel. I’ve never had my nails done in gel or acrylics (I don’t have that kind of commitment when it comes to my easily damaged nails. Like I said before, I can only keep them covered a little bit before they become flimsy and broken) but I know how they look on other people, and this cruelty-free polish does mimic it. You’re left with a glossy, full coloured finish that lasts for days. The brush is also a really good size.
9. Ciaté London – vegan
Ciaté are a fairly well established cruelty-free nail polish brand at this stage; I remember having one when I was younger, back when the packaging had a real ribbon bow rather than a picture. I’m pretty sure it came free with my mum’s Marie Claire magazine. I have to say, they’ve come a long way. Those old varnishes had a tendency to bubble up after being dried and create a weird texture where they were half separated from the nail, but the new ones seem to have gotten a lot better since then in my experience. I love their matte top coat. Recently, Ciaté have also launched a makeup range (though I’m yet to try it) implying that they’re experiencing a huge amount of success with their products. If you want to go for a well-trusted brand, this is the one.
10. Lottie London – vegan
Lottie showed up in Superdrug a little while back, and I remember being mesmerised by their colourful brushes and beautiful nail polish packaging. I have to be honest and tell you I haven’t actually tried any of their nail products – though I don’t really know why, considering they’re so affordable. I do have a stippling brush from them, and yes, okay, the brush part has disconnected from the handle but before that it worked really well. So I can still recommend it. Maybe just make sure you have a little glue lying around for future reference… I’m assuming the cruelty-free nail polishes are probably the same quality, but you have to remember how affordable the brand is. I included one in a giveaway once and I’m pretty sure the receiver liked it, so I don’t think there’s anything to lose in trying one of their shades out. I know I will. (Eventually.)
There we go, my top 10 cruelty-free nail polish brands; a number of which that were vegan. I really hope you find the nail polish of your dreams from one of these brands! If you’re interested in reading about other cruelty-free companies, you can check out my post about my favourite 5 Easily Accessible Cruelty-Free Brands. As always, let me know in the comments if you have any cruelty-free polishes you recommend…
Thanks for reading,