The 6 Best Nail Polishes for At-Home Manicures

Getting your nails done by someone else is a nice treat, but painting them yourself can be quite relaxing as well. You just have to have the right polish (and maybe a glass of wine) ready. So, in the spirit of research (hard job but someone’s gotta do it), we swiped every bottle we could get our hands on to see which ones truly worked the best. Here are the six winners that you can try for yourself at home.

sally hansen

Easiest To Apply: Sally Hansen Insta-dri Fast Dry Nail Color

Ah, good ol’ Sally. The entire line is made for DIY manis, but the original Insta-Dri formula wins for easiest application thanks to its flat, curved brush (that covers most of your nail in a single swipe) and all-in-one formula (that allows for you to skip the base and top coat if you please). Our advice, though: You still might want to use a base coat to prevent any potential nail staining.

Sally Hansen ($5)

jin soon

Best Coverage: Jin Soon Nail Lacquer

You know the saying, “You get what you pay for"? This most certainly fits the bill. After all, the woman behind the brand has more than 20 years of experience painting nails so she knows a thing or two about polish. And while there are many things we love about Jin Soon's formula (like that glossy shine), it’s the rich, creamy, not-a-streak-in-sight color payoff that truly made us believers.

Jin Soon ($18)


Best Color Range: Essie

When it comes to fun new colors (and equally fun names), there is perhaps no polish greater than Essie. Last we checked there have been over 1,000 shades created since the brand’s inception in the '80s, and there are no signs of stopping. (And thank goodness because we need more Bikini So Teeny in our lives.) 

Essie ($9)

deb lippmann

Longest Lasting: Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro

At-home gel manicures have gotten so much better (and easier to use) in recent years. We got a solid week and a half of lustrous, chip-free wear with this stuff and we didn't have to soak it off afterward.

Deborah Lippmann ($20)

butter london

Glossiest Finish: Butter London Patent Shine 10x Lacquer

Listen, with a name like that, you’d hope it would deliver on the results. And while we can’t say it lasted for the entire ten days it promises (though to be fair, we are pretty rough on our hands), the near-blinding shine remained intact throughout. 

Butter London ($18)


Best Value: Essence The Gel Nail Polish

Color us surprised: If we’re being completely honest, we didn’t expect much from this unassuming little bottle, but for the $2 price tag (and impressive color payoff and wear) we’re sold. In fact, we’re stocking up in every shade it comes in. 

Essence Cosmetics ($2)

Jenny Jin Headshot Vertical 2023

Beauty Director

Jenny Jin is PureWow’s Beauty Director and is currently based in Los Angeles. Since beginning her journalism career at Real Simple magazine, she has become a human encyclopedia of...