Those who are regular visitors to the salon will be all too familiar with the damage that constantly wearing polish can cause, Namely dry, brittle nails that are prone to breakage. Enter “breathable”, or “water permeable” varnishes.
Unlike regular polishes, breathable formulas are made up of polymers that allow oxygen and water molecules to reach the nail. This means you can enjoy the perfect mani while keeping your talons healthy and hydrated.
Although the concept first came about in 2013, the number of brands producing breathable polishes has increased. Formulas have also improved and product offerings have diversified.
For Muslims, an advantage of breathable nail polish is that it can be worn during the five daily prayers. Before prayer, Muslims are required to perform “Wudu”, a ritual of cleansing the body in which they must wash their hands three times and ensure water reaches their nail bed. Breathable products can therefore can be worn during prayer.
While not all of the products in our round-up are halal certified, they are technically halal-friendly, but we’ve noted which brands have obtained halal certification.
We tested a range of breathable polishes for ease of application, finish and longevity to see how they match up against non-breathable formulas. We also paid attention to how many coats were needed of each polish to get a good colour payoff and how long it took before the polish started to chip.
The best halal nail polishes for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Lena breathable polish in ‘Dubai calling': £9.95, Lenanailpolish.com
- Best for controlled application – Nails. Inc plant based vegan nail polish in ‘u ok hun?': £9, Nailsinc.com
- Best for pigmented colour – Orly breathable nail polish in ‘morning mantra': £12.75, Orlybeauty.co.uk
- Best for long lasting – Niya Cosmetics in ‘be a boss': £14.99, Niyacosmetics.com
- Best for shade range – Nailberry in ‘lilac fairy': £15, Nailberry.co.uk
- Best for autumnal colour – Maya Cosmetics in ‘ruman': £10.31, Maya-cosmetics.com
- Best glossy finish – Zoya nail polish in ‘Jodi’: £9.95, Zoyapolish.co.uk
- Best for a darker look – Mersi Cosmetics breathable nail polish in ‘Yosemite': £8.99, Mersicosmetics.co.uk
Lena breathable polish in ‘Dubai calling'
Lena’s vegan nail polish (which has been laboratory tested for water permeability) comes in an impressive 240 shades, including holographic colours. Our favourite is “Dubai calling”, a bright white which delivers opaque coverage in a single coat—something that even some regular formulas struggle to achieve. Aside from the excellent colour payoff and high-shine finish, this formula has one of the fastest drying times of those we tested. We also loved the longevity of this polish, which kept our nails chip-free for seven days of wear.
Nails. Inc plant based vegan nail polish in ‘u ok hun?'
Best: For controlled application
As a leader in the industry, it is no surprise that Nails. Inc’s breathable formula made our list. The extremely high-shine finish left our talons looking like we’d just had a gel manicure and we love the short applicator, which allows for maximum control and made painting a fool-proof task. Our top pick was the shade “u ok hun?” – a hot pink from the brand’s vegan plant power range, the formulas of which are 73 per cent plant based. Out of all those we tried we found this one lasted the longest on our nails without chipping.
Orly breathable nail polish in ‘morning mantra'
Best: For pigmented colour
Orly’s breathable lacquer is an extremely pigmented formula that offers opacity in one coat. If water and oxygen permeability wasn’t enough, it is also infused with argan oil, vitamin B5 and vitamin C for strong, healthy nails. The wide brush made it easy to get full coverage in one single stroke – although getting perfect edges took some practise. Despite the high pigment of this formula, we recommend an application of two coats as we found a single coat chipped more easily. Our top pick was “morning mantra”, a pastel sea blue that looks great on all skin tones.
Niya Cosmetics in ‘be a boss'
Best: For long lasting
This breathable polish in the shade “be a boss” is a true, classic red which has great longevity. It lasted a full week without chipping, but we did need a separate top coat to achieve a high-shine gel-like finish. We found applying this product was easy thanks to the long brush, which meant a more even application of colour across the nail. The formula has also received halal certification from four independent bodies.
Nailberry in ‘lilac fairy'
Best: For shade range
Nailberry’s halal-certified range of breathable polish offers a thick, opaque coverage in just one sweep of the brush. We loved the paddle like brush, which made application extremely easy and fast. Our pick of the extensive shade range is “lilac fairy”, a creamy pink shade which can be worn across all seasons. Choose this polish for a quick mani which delivers on shine as it leaves an extremely glossy finish.
Maya Cosmetics in ‘ruman'
Best: For autumnal colour
Another high pigment polish, one coat of this halal-certified formula lasted well on our nails and kept our manicures pristine for almost a full week. Despite its strong pigment, the product is thin in consistency and has minimal drying time. Once dry, the varnish has a good amount of shine, but it’s not as glossy as others, so we recommend a top coat with this one. We loved the shade “ruman”; a deep pomegranate hue perfect for the transition into autumn and one we will certainly be wearing regularly.
Zoya nail polish in ‘Jodi’
Best: Glossy finish
After just two coats of Zoya’s polish, our nails were as glossy as a fresh gel manicure. Those who struggle to get a perfect application will also enjoy using this brush, which is relatively small. This helps control the coverage of the product and avoid mistakes, but it does take a little longer to apply. Our favourite shade was “Jodi”, the perfect creamy, baby pink shade which looks great against sun tanned skin. We did find that this product had a little longer drying time compared to some others on this list, but a finish this glossy is worth the wait.
Mersi Cosmetics breathable nail polish in ‘Yosemite'
Best: For a darker look
Mersi Cosmetic’s chic colour range makes this polish an instant favourite, and the moody “Yosemite” was our top pick. This product has the thinnest brush out of all the ones we tested, allowing for excellent control. While the formula dries to a glossy finish, we found we needed at least two coats to get an opaque colour payoff.
The verdict: Breathable nail polish
For a chic manicure which won’t damage your nails, choose from Lena’s extensive shade range, which delivers great colour payoff and shine in just one coat. For those who love the high gloss finish and longevity of shellac, we recommend checking out Nails. Inc’s vegan range.
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