Personal style is all about showing off your true self. And today, this expression goes way beyond clothing. The men’s beauty industry is exploding, as people of all genders embrace the full spectrum of clothing, makeup and cosmetics. Just head onto any social media platform and witness a slew of men sporting full faces of makeup, painted nails, dresses and skirts. Gender-bending in terms of men’s fashion is a bold statement that all guys need to experience in their fashion choices.
If you’re looking to dip your toes (or fingers) into the world of gender-forward beauty, there’s one product that’s a must-try:
Nail polish for men.
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. However, if color isn’t your thing, you can also try out a restorative polish. Many of these protective products leave a minimal shine behind.
No matter your overall aesthetic, nail polish for men can be a stylish addition to your everyday look. You might find that your outfits look 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. From more neutral options to brighter picks, here are the best nail polishes for men to incorporate into their look.
1. OPI Nail Lacquer Top Coat
This matte top coat from OPI is a great way to protect nail polish from chipping. Since it has a matte finish, it’ll give more of an understated look than the high-gloss finish some top coats provide. It’s designed to protect the underlying color and will last up to a week. The added benefit of a matte finish is that if you don’t want color, but still want to protect your nails, you get a natural, healthy look that protects brittle nails.
Pros: Understated matte finish, can protect manicures, polish, or nails by themselves.
Cons: Somewhat expensive.
2. 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 that aren’t afraid of a little shine. Unlike other gel polishes, this product doesn’t need a UV light to set. 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 top coat isn’t included in your order.
Pros: Has a deep color that lasts. Easy to take off. Tons of great color options.
Cons: Not totally flake-proof.
3. ZOYA Men’s Starter Manicure Kit
This option is specifically marketed toward men who are looking to take care of their nails with a home manicure. It’s designed to provide a natural and neutral look. This order consists of three bottles — there’s a naked base, perfector, and satin seal. It’s designed for restoring and protecting nails. Vitamin B5 improves flexibility and reduces brittleness, and vitamin E supports cellular renewal. In addition to substantively improving nails, it also improves the look of them by reducing discoloration.
Pros: Specifically designed for restoring nails with vitamins, proteins and botanicals. Each order consists of three bottles, making it a reasonable value.
Cons: Can take a while to dry.
4. Essie Nail Polish, Glossy Shine Finish
If you’re looking for something that’s both statement-making and subtle, consider this option from Essie. It’s available in a range of muted and deep shades of blue, green, and gray. This polish provides a high-gloss finish. Better yet, it paints on extremely smooth and won’t thicken up if you leave it sitting on the shelf for an extended period of time. An added benefit is that it’s free of DBP, toluene and formaldehyde. While some polishes are designed to go on easily without the use of a base or top coat, these polishes are designed to be used with a base and top coat, so that will need to be purchased separately as well.
Pros: Available in many muted but high-gloss shades. Long-lasting finish.
Cons: Polish is somewhat thin, so it may take extra applications. Additional coats will be needed.
5. OPI Nail Envy Nail Strengthener
This is a good option for those looking to protect their nails without painting them. Whether you paint your nails a lot, are a nail-biter, or simply have brittle nails that are in need of some care, OPI’s polish is specifically designed to strengthen nails. It comes in a bottle and is applied the same way a nail polish or top coat would be. Calcium and protein help fortify and protect nails. Best of all, it’s also available in a matte finish. You can get all the benefits without any unwanted gloss. There are also formulations specifically for dry and brittle or soft and thin nails.
Pros: Matte finish won’t leave too much shine. Specifically formulated for restoring and protecting nails by providing protein and calcium.
Cons: One word: pricey.
6. OPI Nail Lacquer, Long Lasting Nail Polish, Nude
Another entry on this list from OPI is this set of neutrals. The popularity of the brand is owed to the fact that they produce tons of great shades that last long. 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; they will blend in more with your natural nail color while still having some shine and luster. These polishes are actually lacquers, which are generally thicker, more protective, and give a glossier look than traditional polish.
Pros: Thick lacquers in muted blush shades.
Cons: It can chip somewhat easily.
7. Sally Hansen – Good. Kind. Pure Vegan Nail Polish
Throw your masculinity in the dumpster with a couple of nail polish colors you typically wouldn’t see men rocking. Coming in a number of various 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 and feeling yourself in a way you thought you never could. Each shade is tremendously long-lasting and the formula is 100% nature-forward. Even the applicator’s brush bristles are plant-based!
Pros: Totally vegan and comes in a variety of colors to choose from.
Cons: Some guys might feel some of the colors are a bit too feminine.
8. 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 top coat. You should only need two coats to get the results you want, but this will depend 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.
Pros: Has a great shine. Wide color selection.
Cons: Actual colors might not match the product photos. Prices vary by color.
9. 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 their 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.
Pros: Colors are bold and opaque. Top coat is included.
Cons: Might not last as long as some other gel products. Brush can be tricky to maneuver for manicure beginners.
10. Barielle No Bite Pro Growth
Calling all nail biters — this is the nail polish you need so you can finally stop biting your nails. This odorless, invisible nail polish is an excellent pick for dudes who chronically bite their nails because it tastes disgusting. The taste will stay in your mouth long after you’ve made contact, so you’ll never want to bite your nails again. It has no shine whatsoever, so even feel free to put this as a coat over your freshly painted nails, too. It will even help your nails grow faster!
Pros: It does the trick, it will make you stop biting your nails.
Cons: It doesn’t come in any exciting colors, so you’re going to have to purchase something else if you want a pop.
11. ILNP Heat Wave Holographic Shimmer Nail Polish
Looking to change up your look a little at your next party? Slap on the ILNP Heat Wave Holographic Shimmer Nail Polish and keep those nails gleaming in the nightlife scene. This gorgeous purple color isn’t very male-centric, but we’re throwing gender norms in the garbage, so you shouldn’t care. Layer this on after you throw on your party pants and get dancing.
Pros: Super fun color most guys with painted nails don’t go for.
Cons: Might be a lot for most guys.
12. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat
If you’re looking for a top coat, consider this well-regarded option Seche Vite. It’s designed to add a shiny, high-gloss look. It dries quickly and effectively protects nail colors from fading, chipping or yellowing. In addition to protecting the color of polish, it can also be used to help strengthen brittle nails. You can feel good about using it, too, because it is not tested on animals and is free of parabens and sulfates.
Pros: Dries very quickly. Effective and high-gloss top coat for protecting nails and polish.
Cons: Somewhat thick, making it harder to apply a thin coat as needed.