If you’re looking to dip your toes (or fingers) into the world of gender-forward beauty, then there’s one product that’s a must-try: nail polish for men.
As the men’s beauty industry explodes in 2022 with people of all genders embracing the full spectrum of clothing, makeup and cosmetics available to them, nail polish for them is moving into the mainstream. Just head onto any social media platform — or newsstand — and witness guys sporting full faces of makeup for men, painted nails, dresses and skirts. Gender-bending is more than just a fad in the men’s fashion world; it’s a bold statement that you aren’t willing to limit yourself to binary ways of thinking about sex, gender and clothing taboos.
The SPY team has more than dabbled in the best nail polish for men, and over the years we’ve learned which products work best for guys.
What Is Nail Polish for Men?
There is a growing number of beauty brands offering nail polish for men and unisex options, including a new brand founded by Harry Styles called Pleasing (check them out below). But most nail polish for men is still appropriated from the women’s beauty department.
An at-home manicure is a great way to show your nails — and yourself — some love. You can add color to your nails with a traditional nail polish or commit to a shade for weeks at a time with a gel product. If color isn’t your thing, you can also try a restorative polish that provides minimal shine.
No matter your overall aesthetic, nail polish for men can be such a stylish addition to your everyday look that you might find your outfits start to feel incomplete without it. To get you started on your men’s beauty journey, we’ve browsed the virtual shelves to round up the best nail polish for men currently available. From neutral options to brighter, bolder picks, here are the top nail polishes for men who aren’t afraid to be beautiful.
1. Essie Nail Polish (Various Colors)
For DIY manicures, Essie has the best range of colors, not to mention reasonable prices and an unbeatable color selection. If you prefer more traditionally masculine vibes, Essie nail polish is available in a range of muted and deep shades of blue, green and gray, and new colors are released all the time. Most importantly, Essie paints on extremely smooth and won’t thicken if you leave it sitting on the shelf for an extended period. An added benefit is that it’s free of DBP, toluene and formaldehyde. For best results, we recommend using Essie polishes with either a base or topcoat.
- Available in many muted but high-gloss shades
- Long-lasting finish
- Easy to apply for beginners
- Polish is somewhat thin, so it may take extra applications
- Additional coats will be needed
2. Orly x Kwame Nail Polish for Men
Up-and-coming celebrity chef Kwame Onwuachi launched a nail polish collaboration with Orly specifically designed to withstand the heat of the kitchen and rough work. So if you want a long-lasting nail polish that won’t chip or fade, this is a fantastic option. The collection features three colors — black, silver and eggplant—– and we highly recommend the black and silver for men. Unlike Essie nail polish, no base or top coat is needed.
- Created with men in mind
- Designed to withstand physical activity and heat
- Not available via Amazon
- Only three colors available
3. Seche Vite Topcoat
Technically, this isn’t a nail polish for men but a topcoat. A top coat is applied to your nails after your final coat of polish is dry to help the polish dry more quickly. In addition, it can even out the look of painted nails and help your manicure last longer. Because guys sometimes need some practice when using nail polish for the first time, a good top coat can help smooth out your handiwork. According to the manicure-loving women we consulted, this is hands-down the best topcoat in the world.
- Helps nail polish dry faster
- Results in a more even, polished look
- Creates an extra step in your manicure
4. ZOYA Men’s Starter Manicure Kit
BEST FOR BEGINNERS
Designed to provide a natural and neutral look, this order consists of three bottles: a naked base, perfector and satin seal. It’s designed for restoring and protecting nails, with vitamin B5 to improve flexibility and reduce brittleness and vitamin E to support cellular renewal. In addition to substantively improving nails, it also reduces discoloration.
- Specifically designed for restoring nails
- Can take a while to dry
5. Pleasing Sprouting Nail Polish for Men
BEST CELEBRITY BRAND
Harry Styles upset a lot of conservatives when he started wearing dresses, and he has been vocal about his love of breaking taboos around gender expression. Now, Styles has his own beauty company for men (and people of all genders). Pleasing offers some fantastic nail polish for men, including the minty “Sprouting” polish featured here. This colorful polish comes with nail stickers and has an opaque gloss finish.
- Made for all genders
- Biodegradable, vegan and cruelty-free
- Comes with stickers
- Features a gloss finish that not everyone will like
- More expensive than most options
6. Frank Nails Mood
BEST GENDER NEUTRAL COLORS
Frank Nails specializes in gender-neutral colors made with vegan and cruelty-free ingredients. The polish bottle comes with an oversized, textured cap that’s easy to grip and hold while applying coats. The polish is also formulated to dry quickly, so you don’t need to wait around before heading out and showing off your new manicure.
- Bottle cap is easy to grip
- Fast-dry formula
- More expensive than other options
7. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel
Sally Hansen’s gel nail polish is a great salon alternative. The long-lasting finish is solid and glossy for guys who aren’t afraid of a little shine. Unlike other gel polishes, this product doesn’t need a UV light to set and it stays on your nails for at least a week. This nail polish is on the thick side, but it glides onto your nail without clumping. You can purchase this product in over 20 bold colors. This polish works best when used with a top coat, but the topcoat isn’t included in your order.
- Has a deep color that lasts
- Easy to take off
- Tons of great color options
- Not flake-proof
8. OPI Nail Lacquer, Long Lasting Nail Polish, Nude
BEST NUDE COLOR
Another entry from OPI, this option comes in many muted blush tones and some are designed to have a “nude” look. That means that the polish won’t make as much of a statement; it will blend in with your natural nail color while still providing some shine and luster. These polishes are actually lacquers, which are generally thicker, more protective and give a glossier look than traditional polish.
- Thick lacquers in muted blush shades
- Can easily chip
9. ILNP Eclipse Holographic Ultra Chrome Nail Polish
The worst-case scenario with a fresh manicure? That you’ll get all your coats perfectly applied and immediately chip one the next day. This nail polish formula is made to avoid that fate with long-lasting coverage. It’s made of premium ingredients that are 100% vegan and cruelty-free, and the formula is easy to remove This stunning chrome color is glittery and shimmery, perfect for a special occasion or night out.
- Easy to remove
- Premium ingredients
- The thicker formula may cause the brush to wear down quicker
10. Sally Hansen – Good. Kind. Pure Vegan Nail Polish
MOST BRIGHT COLORS
Throw your masculinity in the dumpster with a couple of nail polish colors you typically wouldn’t see men rocking. Coming in several shades of pinks, reds and creams, these gorgeous vegan colors from Sally Hansen will give your nails the upgrade they need by ditching gender stereotypes. Each shade is long-lasting and the formula is 100% nature-forward. Even the applicator’s brush bristles are plant-based!
- A bit too feminine for some men
11. Revlon Nail Enamel Nail Polish
Available in a selection of pink and neutral shades, Revlon’s enamel nail polish is resistant to chips and fades. This is especially true when you apply it with a base and topcoat. You should only need two coats to get the results you want, but that depends on the specific color you choose. Keep in mind that this polish may take a while to dry. However, the sleek results are well worth it.
- Wide color selection
- Actual colors might not match the product photos
- Prices vary by color
12. Revlon ColorStay Nail Polish
Another gel polish option, Revlon’s ColorStay product promises seven-day wear and salon-quality results. The nail polish has a creamy texture, and it’s pretty easy to apply with the wide-angle brush. Revlon recommends applying this polish under its Diamond Top Coat, which is included in your order, to add protection and shine. This nail polish may bubble after it dries, but using a base coat can help prevent this.
- Colors are bold and opaque
- Topcoat is included
- May not last as long as other gel products
- Brush can be tricky for manicure beginners
13. Essie Expressie Quick-Dry Vegan Nail Polish
This nail polish from Essie is designed to dry in about a minute, so it’s great if you need a quick coat on the fly or don’t have the patience to wait. It comes with an angled brush for easy application using either hand, and it comes in a huge selection of colors. There’s also no base or topcoat needed.
- Comes with a brush designed to be used with either hand
- Vegan formula
- Some users noted that the second and third coats don’t dry as quickly
14. Golf le Fleur*
Leave it to Tyler the Creator to bring guys a nail polish that’s as cool in the bottle as it is on your menicure. Golf le Fleur* offers three colors in its nail polish for men line (Geneva Blue, Glitter and Georgia Peach), and also offers all three in a set.
- Features the patented Golf le Fleur* cap
- Cruelty free
- More expensive than many options
BEST PRODUCT NAMES
Depressionist. Joy Ride. Bad Tendencies. Pretty Dangerous. The names of these nail polishes for men are just as chic as the bold colors themselves. No surprise it comes from Machine Gun Kelly, with the tagline “Don’t huff the paint.” This one recommends applying a single coat of Gloss Top / Bottom Coat and two coats of polish. For a gloss, finish with a coat of Gloss Top / Bottom Coat. For a matte look, apply a coat of Nothing Matte(rs) Top Coat.
- Tons of color options
- Requires a coat of Gloss Top
- Needs two coats for best results