Sparkle and Shine with the Best Vegan Nail Polish

Sparkle and Shine with the Best Vegan Nail Polish

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No doubt about it, nail polish is fun. Whether you want to add a little colour to your everyday life or boost the wow-factor on an eye-catching outfit, there’s a colour and style to match every mood and occasion.

But not all nail polishes are created equal. Harbouring toxins, animal-derived products and cruel testing practices, some brands are just downright nasty — not only for you and the health of your nails, but for the environment and its non-human inhabitants too.

Thankfully, more brands are stepping up their vegan game. From big name brands that are introducing vegan lines, to the 100% vegan and cruelty-free certified organisations that put nature’s wellbeing at the core of their company, vegans have never been better catered for when it comes to nail polish.

With so much choice out there, one can feel a little overwhelmed when searching for the best vegan nail polish. Thankfully our handy little guide will give you a run down on what to look for when you’re shopping, as well as review some of our favourite brands and colours.

Things to Consider Before Buying

Whenever you set out to buy something, there are naturally a few factors to keep in mind so you can make an informed decision. When buying nail polish, the obvious things you may consider are the colour, the quality and how long lasting it is.

But as someone leading a vegan life, who cares about the rights of animals, the decision requires a little more scrutiny.

The following are a few pointers I have put together for you to keep in mind when looking for the best vegan nail polish.

Ingredients to Avoid

As someone following a vegan lifestyle, the principles of veganism do not apply only to your diet, they also apply to all the other decisions you make in life, including the brand of nail polish to buy. If a nail polish brand is claiming to be vegan, they cannot have the following ingredients. If you spot these ingredients in a nail polish, you should move on swiftly and look for an actual vegan nail polish.

Guanine

Guanine is a common element found in non-vegan nail polish, bath products and other cosmetics. It is a crystalline material that lends shimmer to the makeup and acts as a colourant even for clear beauty products. However, guanine is typically derived from fish scales. It is the element that is said to lend the iridescent quality to a fish’s body. 

Vegan alternatives to using guanine are leguminous plants, synthetic pearls, mica, aluminium and bronze particles. 

Carmine

Carmine is a red colourant or pigment that is commonly used in coloured cosmetics like lipstick, nail polish, and blush. It is derived from the female cochineal insect. Thousands of female cochineal insects are killed, dried, crushed and then boiled so that a few grams of this deep red dye can be obtained. This dye is commonly used as food colouring, in makeup products and in textiles. 

Keratin

The protein keratin is one of the most significant structural elements for human hair, nails and skin. While found in abundance in humans, cosmetics often contain keratin to ‘top up’ any deficiencies and strengthen and smooth what it’s being applied to, such as hair or nails.

Obviously, the human body can’t be the source of keratin used in cosmetic products, so manufacturers turn to animals. Keratin is most commonly sourced from the feathers, wool, horns and hooves of a variety of different animals.

There are, however, ways to derive keratin from plants. If you see keratin as an ingredient, it does not immediately mean the product is not vegan. Check with the manufacturers or with the customer care service about whether the keratin is plant based or animal based. 

A female hand among wild flowers.
Make sure your nail polish loves the environment as much as you do by checking for vegan and cruelty-free certifications.

Cruelty-Free

If a product is vegan it does not automatically qualify as cruelty-free. While the two are often clubbed together, products without animal-based ingredients may be tested on animals.

The best way to be sure your vegan nail polish is cruelty-free too, is to check with the manufacturer. Look for reliable cruelty-free certifications including The Leaping Bunny and PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies.

3-, 4-, 5-, 7-, or 10-Free

Now, this may seem like a complicated concept but 3-, 5-, 7-, or 10-free is as straightforward as it gets. These numbers signify the number of recognised harmful toxins the nail polish is free of. The following are the specifications:

3-Free

This signifies that the nail polish is free of what is commonly called the Toxic Trio, namely dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, and formaldehyde. These are the most commonly used toxins in nail polishes. 

4-Free

Four-free nail polish is free of the Toxic Trio, plus formaldehyde resin.

5-Free

Five-free is the least quality one should expect from a nail polish. A 5-free nail polish is free of the Toxic Trio, formaldehyde resin and camphor.

7-Free

Seven-free nail polishes are free of all the five toxins mentioned above, plus ethyl tosylamide and xylene.

8-Free

Eight-free nail polishes are free of the seven toxins mentioned above, plus triphenyl phosphate (TPHP).

10-Free

Ten-free nail polishes are the goal for vegans! They are free from all the toxins mentioned previously, plus fragrances and all animal ingredients. 

The Best Vegan Nail Polishes

The following are some of the best vegan nail polishes available on the market today. From subtle and classy to bold and beautiful, they offer vibrant colours to add extra sparkle or touch of fun that make any look pop — no matter the style. 

Barry M Cosmetics Under the Sea Nail Paint

Barry M Cosmetics Under the Sea Nail Paint

Number of Colours: 12
Our Favourite: Butterflyfish
Size: 4.54 g
Price Guide: £

Buy on Amazon UK

The Butterflyfish nail polish from Barry M Cosmetics’ Under the Sea range has an iridescent, metallic finish that looks dazzling on anybody’s fingernails and adds some pizzazz to any regular look. Its colour-shifting, two-toned formula gives you a dynamic shade that offers different colours depending on where the light is hitting it from.

There are 12 shades in the series, but the Butterflyfish colour is especially stunning. Cruelty-free and 100% vegan, the series truly embodies the essence of ‘Under the Sea’, without hurting any marine or animal life.

While we love that it’s 8-free, some people find that it goes on a little thin. Our pro-tip; instead of applying numerous coats to get your desired colour strength, apply a base coat of white or nude first. Not only will your nails glisten from the enhanced colour, but you’ll save on polish — meaning you’ll get more wears out of the bottle!

Seren London rose cupcake vegan nail polish

Seren London Vegan Nail Polish

Number of Colours: 40+
Our Favourite: Rose Cupcake (P62)
Size: 15 ml
Price Guide: £

Buy on Amazon UK

Seren London make stunning, vegan nail polishes that are sure to add some colour, spunk and character to your fingers.

While there are so many colours to choose from, the one picked out for this list is the Rose Cupcake (P62). With a lovely rose tint, it will give your look a gorgeous, feminine touch — adding colour and class in an understated, yet not unnoticeable, way.

The bottle is small and compact so you can simply fit it in your purse for a quick top up — not that you’ll need it thanks to the chip resistant qualities.

Beauty Without Cruelty deepest mulberry vegan nail polish

Beauty Without Cruelty Attitude Nail Colour

Number of Colours: 16
Our Favourite: Deepest Mulberry (56)
Size: 9.07 g
Price Guide: £

Buy on Amazon UK

This long-lasting, quick-drying glossy nail polish from Beauty Without Cruelty’s Attitude collection is a great way to enhance any look. Offering 16 gorgeous shades in the collection, our colour of choice is Deepest Mulberry (56). A richly intense shade, it is perfect for winter outfits or a sultry look.

The nail polish is vegan, natural and 100% cruelty-free. Beauty Without Cruelty is a certified member of the Vegan Society and Cruelty Free International. GMO and gluten-free, it also ticks off the 5-free box.

This nail polish comes with a non-streak duo brush, which gives you the perfect coat in one go, and it’s chip resistant. Our pro tip; use with a clear base and a top coat to make it even more long lasting.

Free from fragrance, so you won’t inhale any nasties while applying it, Beauty Without Cruelty’s nail polish is the perfect vegan and cruelty-free way to enjoy something beautiful!

Karma Organic Natural Nail Polish in Gold Digger

Karma Organic Natural Nail Polish

Number of Colours: 140+
Our Favourite: Gold Digger (420)
Size: 12 ml
Price Guide: £

Buy on Amazon UK

Gold Digger is a delicious colour from Karma Organic that is sure to be a regular favourite. While the range has over 100 colours, we’ve chosen this because of its delicate pink tones with a hint of gold — which shimmers when the light hits it from the right angle.

Karma Organic is 100% vegan, organic and cruelty-free. The nail polish is also 7-free, which means it is free of seven harmful toxins — toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin DBP (phthalate), camphor, xylene, and parabens.

It is suitable to be used by everyone — pregnant women, children of all ages and people with allergies. Karma Organic’s nail polish is also chip resistant, non-yellowing and durable.

In addition to being cruelty-free, you can rest assured you’re taking care of Mother Earth too. Once you’re finished with your nail polish it won’t go to landfill thanks to its 100% recyclable packaging.

Zoya PixieDust Nail Polish in Dahlia

Zoya Nail Polish Pixie Dust Collection

Number of Colours: 400
Our Favourite: Dahlia
Size: 14 ml
Price Guide: ££

Buy on Amazon UK

Dahlia, from Zoya’s PixieDust collection, is a deep noir peppered with some shimmer and spunk. It is a great colour to wear for a night out on the town and adds style to your look, no matter what you are wearing.

While there are 400 colours offered across the Zoya range, Dahlia, in particular, catches the eye because it is a combination of elegance and fun. It also has a textured matte formula that feels wonderful to the touch. But, if you want a shinier finish, add a clear gloss top-coat to make your sparkle really eye-catching.

Zoya nail polishes are long lasting, chip resistant and 5-free. 

Color Club Halo Hues Nail Lacquer in Harp On It

Color Club Halo Hues Nail Lacquer

Number of Colours: 250
Our Favourite: Harp On It (976)
Size: 15 ml
Price Guide: ££

Buy on Amazon UK

Color Club offers many exciting colours and styles, but Harp On It (976) from the Halo Hues collection is especially stylish. The complex colour tones offer a holographic effect when the light hits the varnish. This is the perfect nail polish for when you want to channel a futuristic style or add a little fun to an otherwise mundane day of work.

The nail polish is long lasting and has a chip-resistant formula, and you don’t need to keep applying coats to get the right look. All Color Club nail polishes are vegan, natural and 100% cruelty-free, so whichever colour you pick from all the shades under the sun, you can rest assured they’ll align with your principles.

butter LONDON Nail Lacquer in Trout Pout

butter LONDON Patent Shine 10X

Number of Colours: 47
Our Favourite: Trout Pout
Size: 11 ml
Price Guide: ££

Buy on Amazon UK

butter LONDON is all about high fashion couture, and their nail polishes are no exception. Trout Pout is a delicious, classic salmon that simply sings happiness. It’s the perfect shade for the warm summer nights out, lounging poolside or jazzing up your everyday nails.

Easy to apply, butter LONDON nail polish is quick drying, chip resistant and lasts up to 10 days of wear. An 8-free formula, it’s also great for your nail health. With the benefits of calcium, vitamins E, A and C, as well as Pro B5, it protects and strengthens your nails.

The rectangular bottles are a style statement in themselves and are compact enough to fit into your purse in case of any chip emergencies that might occur while you’re out.

Note that while the Patent Shine 10x Nail Lacquer range from butter LONDON is vegan, some of the brand’s other nail polish collections do contain animal-derived ingredients.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the very best vegan nail polish is no easy feat. With so many contenders on the market, the choice of amazing colours seems limitless. From subtle shades that will become your everyday go-to, to the show-stoppers that are best for those nights out when you want to really make a statement, there’s a great vegan nail polish for every occasion.

So, while we love all the products featured in our guide to the best vegan nail polish, some of our top picks to help narrow your search are:

Whether you want to have some fun with your fingernails, or show off your toes while wearing the best vegan sandals, we’re sure our guide will help you find the best vegan nail polish to suit your style!

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