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If you buy conventional nail polish at a drugstore, you’re more likely than not getting a product tested on animals or made with animal-derived ingredients. And many conventional nail polishes are lurking with toxins that can be absorbed by the skin. Buying a cruelty free and vegan nail polish is a great way to minimize the use of animals in your beauty routine and reduce toxins that could be harmful to your health.
Luckily, there are many cruelty free and vegan nail polish brands out there that are both clean and high quality. Here’s a guide to the best.
Best Overall Vegan and Cruelty Free Nail Polish
Ella + Mila
Ella + Mila is a popular vegan nail polish brand that’s cruelty-free, certified vegan (by PETA), and made in the USA. It’s also a “17-free” product, meaning it’s free of 17 of the toxic ingredients commonly found in conventional nail polish (other vegan nail polish brands are “7-free,” “10-free,” and “21-free”—all meaning they avoid all or some toxic ingredients).
They have tons of quick drying and chip-resistant shades, so you’ll have a lot of variety to choose from. Their best reviewed color is “Berry Much in Love,” with over 187 5-star reviews. They’re an especially loved vegan nail polish brand at Target, with over 3,000 5-star reviews.
What Customers Love
- Formula is super long-lasting and actually chip-resistant
- Color doesn’t fade and stays fresh for the length of the manicure
What Customers Don’t Love
- Some colors aren’t well represented on their website, so customers were disappointed that it wasn’t what they were expecting.
Nails Inc Plant Power Vegan Nail Polish
If you’re interested in going the extra mile and buying a nearly completely plant-based nail polish, Nails Inc’s Plant Power Vegan Nail Polish is a good bet. It’s 73% plant-based, vegan, cruelty free, halal friendly, and 21-free, meaning it’s free of 21 common toxic nail polish ingredients. We also love that they’ve swapped their nail polish caps for Forest Stewardship Council certified wood caps, helping you minimize your plastic intake.
The formula is a high-shine, long-lasting formula, and it gets great reviews on Sephora. There are only about 30 of the Plant Power edition, and the rest of Nails Inc’s products aren’t technically cruelty-free or vegan, so you’ll have to be sure you’re shopping for the right line. Or, if you want to spend your dollars at a brand that’s totally committed to veganism, then another vegan nail polish brand might be a better choice.
What Customers Love
- The formula provides great coverage so you can save more of it
- Long-lasting and chip-free for weeks
- Color variety
What Customers Don’t Love
- Some customers found certain colors (like the cobalt blue) very hard to remove
- Some customers found their formulas a bit too thick and gloopy
Other Vegan and Cruelty Free Nail Polish Brands We Love
Cirque Colors Vegan Nail Polish
Cirque Colors is a safe, non-toxic, and vegan nail polish brand that offers a wide range of bright, fun colors. The formula is a 10-free formula that’s high gloss and long-lasting.
Cirque Colors has a “Do Good” line where 100% of their proceeds from those collections are donated to causes their customers care about. They’ve donated to women’s rights organizations, reforestation projects, transgender rights organizations, and more. They’ve donated over $50,000 with their Do Good line, and you can read about all the organizations they support here.
We also love that they try to make business decisions with the environment in mind, and are reducing plastic use in their shipping materials.
Sundays Vegan Nail Polish
If you’re looking for a special splurge in your nail color, Sundays is a great bet. It’s a vegan, cruelty free, and 10-free nail polish brand that’s made in the USA and women-owned.
At $18 a bottle, it’s more expensive than most vegan nail polish brands on the list, but it’s a long-lasting, high pigment formula that comes with a professional-grade application brush. We also love their sleek packaging and branding.
Sundays gets a lot of great reviews on their site, with customers loving how intense the colors are and how long they last on their nails.
Jolie Vegan Cruelty Free Nail Polish
Jolie Vegan is an affordable vegan nail polish brand that has lots of great colors at less than $10 a bottle. Their formula is PETA-certified cruelty free and vegan, and 10-free. They also donate a small percentage of each sale to charitable organizations, like ental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
While it’s a smaller brand that has fewer reviews, the reviews they do have are really positive. Their best-selling color is a pale blue called “Stay True to You.” Customers love that it isn’t super sheer, and that it dries quickly.
Londontown Lakur Vegan Nail Polish
Their formula is also enriched with a variety of ingredients meant to preserve the health and strength of your nails, like vitamin E and chamomile extract.
Londontown Lakur is another splurge-worthy vegan nail polish brand at $16 a bottle. Their formula is vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. They’re also a 16+ free brand, eliminating the use of 16 or more toxic ingredients commonly found in nail polish.
Their bottles are sleek and they have a variety of trendy colors. Their best reviewed color is a sheer, pale pink called “Cheerio,” which gets over 60 5-star reviews. Customers love that it’s long-lasting and doesn’t streak (which is a challenge to find in paler colors).
Côte Vegan Nail Polish
Côte is a non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty free nail polish brand that’s a bit of a splurge, but is a mainstay in the vegan nail polish world. It’s also free of 10 common toxic nail polish ingredients, found here. They have a wide variety of shades, and their formula is long-lasting and chip free.
We love that they’re made in the USA, and that they have a recycling program you can take part in. They recycle all their used nail polish bottles, and if you mail back your used nail polish bottles, you’ll get 10% of your next order.
Our Research Process
We started our research process looking into the conventional nail polish industry. Conventional nail polish is traditionally not vegan or cruelty free. Many products are tested on animals, and surprisingly, some even contain animal products.
If you’re looking for vegan nail polish brands, you’ll want to avoid the following animal-derived ingredients:
- Guanine, derived from fish scales
- Carmine (aka cochineal), derived from boiled and crushed beetles
- Oleic acid, made from animal fat or tallow.
- Shellac, a resin that female lac bugs secrete.
We looked for nail polish brands that, at a minimum, did not contain any of the above products. We also looked for cruelty free certifications and standards. We gave extra consideration to brands that hold vegan certifications (like PETA’s certification), and were free of other toxic ingredients you might want to avoid in your nail polish. That’s why many of the brands above are “7-free,” “10-free,” “17-free,” and more.
Finally, we looked for the brands that either held up to our editors’ own testing standards, or got the best reviews from customers.
In the end, we considered the following brands:
- Cirque Colors
- Jolie Vegan
- Sally Hansen
- Ella + Mila
- Londontown Lakur
- Dazzle Dry
- Static Nails
- Jin Soon
- Nails Inc
- Pear Nova
- Paint Box
- Olive & June
- Deborah Lippmann
For more vegan swaps, check out our guides to the best vegan condoms and the best vegan candles.