10 Indie Nail Polish Brands You Need to Know
Categories: Fashion

10 Indie Nail Polish Brands You Need to Know

All you have to do is mention OPI or Essie, and we’re instantly planning our next manicure. That’s because these once-boutique favorites have become standout staples for DIY manis and salon-level nail art alike — they’e household names. But the tried and true lacquers aren’t the only awesome shades on the market. A handful of indie brands — from bottles still under-the-radar to those generating buzz from both beauty bloggers and major fashion voices (try Vogue, Nylon, Cosmo and more) — are ready to become your new nail polish go-tos for both everyday wear and for those mani-to-remember moments. Scroll through our favorite 10 up-and-comers soon to be crowding your lacquer shelf.

1. Smith & Cult: Nail color junkies, you’re not alone. Dineah Mohajr, creator of the glittery ‘90s cosmetics brand Hard Candy, is feeding the addiction with her latest hyper-hued brand Smith & Cult. Made with an exclusive 5-Free formula that shuns sketchy toxic ingredients like Formaldehyde, the explosive colors deliver next-level shine to match its metallic packaging.

Staple shade: Psycho Candy ($18): Juicy coral a cut above the rest.

Must-have fall hue: Lovers Creep ($18): A deep burgundy tease.

2. Flossgloss: Imagine if the coolest chicks you know started their own nail polish line — that’s Aretha Sack and Janine Lee of Flossgloss, a San Francisco-born brand of high-quality nail lacquer made for and by color snobs. If one or two of the otherworldly hues don’t immediately catch your eye (at their under-$10 price point, they really should), opt for a curated set.

Staple shade: Glowstar ($8): The ghost of green.

Must-have fall hue: 95% Angel ($8): The dreamiest shade of periwinkle.

3. tenoverten: Designed to fill a void in spa-style New York neighborhood salons, tenoverten is as boutique as nail polish brands get, and its lacquer is just as luxe. Each streak-free shade promotes strong and healthy nails, is 5-Free, cruelty free, vegan and made in the U.S.A. The long-lasting shades are named after different NYC locales and promise to be just as unique.

Staple shade: 001 Jane ($18): Ballerinas, eat your hearts out.

Must-have fall hue: 021 Wall St ($18): A holographic metallic. ‘Nuff said.

4. Formula X: If you’re ever at a loss for mani inspiration, Formula X marks the spot. Its website is a kaleidoscope of color inspo — just pick your fave lacquer shades to get the look, from solid color standouts to exclusive effects like gleaming metallics, high-voltage neons and shade-shifting ombre glitters. Once your nails are coated, become someone else’s muse by uploading your nail art to the site.

Staple shade: Incandescent ($13): Gorgeous glowing cantaloupe orange.

Must-have fall hue: Law of Attraction ($13): A cocktail of champagne-colored glitter and micro purple specks.

5. Rescue Beauty Lounge: Creator Jil Baek is a nail polish legend known for her tireless dedication to high-quality polish — it took her two years of tinkering to develop what’s now one of today’s most sought after cult beauty brands. But it’s not just her lightweight and always-sophisticated lacquers that keep fans coming back: Baek is known for holding open calls for new color submissions, so start the inspo board for your dream shade now.

Staple shade: Burn the Evidence (Anatomy of a #KDrama) ($20): Fiery auburn to heat up your digits.

Must-have fall hue: Cue the Montage (Anatomy of a #KDrama) ($20): A glitter-specked yellow chartreuse fit for ALL skin tones.

6. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics: On top of their high-intensity lip tars and eye pencils, this 100% vegan and cruelty free cosmetics brand slings quick-dry, camera-ready nail polish that you’ll probably find in any beauty editor’s bag. Use the super long-lasting shades as your go-to for those out-the-door mornings or whenever you need a pro-level nail pick-me-up on the fly.

Staple shade: Vapid ($8): Barely-there lavender cream.

Must-have fall hue: Pond ($8): Too true blue.

7. Knock Out: You have Hedwig and the Angry Inch makeup artist Mike Potter to thank for your obsession with matte polish — he started the flat finish style back in 2008, and the line has since surged into a celebrity fave (Karen O. models the iconic Flatte Black on the website’s landing page). The no-shine hues are as statement-making as their frosted, vintage-feeling bottles — paint on two coats for most magnetic results.

Staple shade: Karen ($14): Classic red, all shine removed.

Must-have fall hue: Ox ($14): Deep and dusty aubergine.

8. Mischo Beauty: Chic and toxin-free, this maternity-friendly nail polish line was developed by then-mom-to-be Kitiya Mischo King. The chemist’s winning 5-Free formula doesn’t mean that pigments suffer in the slightest: shades are elegant, but never fussy… and they’re selling out fast.

Staple shade: Lincoln Center ($18): Nope, we never thought we’d love a brown polish either.

Must-have fall hue: Empire State of Mind ($18): A teal to make the peacocks jealous.

9. JINSoon: Open any fashion magazine and you’re sure to see a JINSoon bottle in its pages as a celeb, stylist or editor fave (and soon to be your own). The brainchild of acclaimed editorial manicurist Jin Soon Choi, the high-gloss lacquer stands its own with just one coat or (naturally) wows as salon-approved nail art — even in the hands of mani hackers.

Staple shade: Pop Orange ($18): A timeless hot orange.

Must-have fall hue: Mica ($18): Not-quite-chrome. Just don’t call it gray.

10. Julep: More is more with Julep, a brand that’s merging breakthrough technology with the creative process to launch over 300 cosmetics a year, including a massive A-to-Z nail lacquer selection that promotes stronger, harder nails after just two weeks of wear. Its core collection shows that the Julep girl is classic with a twist (just like their reds) and never afraid to paint on a daring hue (think bright kelly greens or vivid purples). This brand’s got a Lazy Girl’s back, too: monthly subscription boxes will show up at your door with new polishes, and its innovative Plié Wand is making at-home manis easier than ever.

Staple shade: Hope: ($14) Silky satin white

Must-have fall hue: Mia: ($14) A luxe, holiday-ready metallic.

What’s you’re favorite below-the-radar polish brand? What is your all-time favorite polish shade? Tell us in the comments below.