While you might have ruled out animal-tested make-up a long time ago and diligently swapped your skincare for cruelty-free alternatives, chances are you haven’t considered the ingredients hiding in your favourite nail treatments.
A category that’s fallen by the wayside in the world of vegan beauty, traditional nail polish can contain animal-derived ingredients including guanine (derived from fish scales or crustaceans to help give that pearlescent finish) along with keratin, an animal protein known to help strengthen nails.
As for those shellac treatments we all love? Unfortunately, traditional shellac is not vegan — it uses a resin derived from the female lac bug found in India and Thailand that helps create the glossy formula you see in the salon.
As Veganuary is in full swing, now is a great time to consider switching your nail polish (along with the rest of your beauty routine). But how to work out if it’s actually vegan? Look out for the Peta-approved vegan logo and the Leaping Bunny trademarks. Don’t be put off by a high-shine finish, either, lots of vegan alternatives have aluminium particles or synthetic pearls to get that shimmery, high-shine result that we’ve all grown to love.
The good news is that there’s plenty of great vegan options to choose from to switch up your manicure. From winter shades to shellac alternatives, see our favourites from the likes of Nailberry, Rimmel and Orly, below.
How we tested
They may all be plant-based, but every nail polish formula is unique. That’s why we tested a range of different price points across different brands to find the best vegan polishes around. We looked for things like colour vibrancy and finish, long-lasting results, nail care and shine and narrowed down our top seven contenders for 2022, below.
The best vegan nail polishes for 2022 are:
- Best for luxury – Nailberry hot coco time to hygge: £15, Nailberry.co.uk
- Best for budget – Rimmel London kind and free plant based nail polish: £5.99, Superdrug.com
- Best for shellac alternative – Manucurist green flash set: £89, Manucurist.com
- Best for shade range – Peacci hubba bubba: £6, Peacci.com
- Best for shimmer – Orly alexandrite by you breathable nail polish: £7.15, Salonsdirect.com
- Best overall – Sally Hansen good.kind.pure vegan nail polish in golden quartz: £8.99, Boots.com
- Best for nail care – Revlon ultra HD snap! nail polish cherry on top: £7.99, Superdrug.com
Manucurist green flash set
Best: For shellac alternative
This vegan and sustainable nail brand is changing the game when it comes to at-home nail treatments. Not only will you find polish alternatives, but the brand has also created a shellac replacement, AKA the green flash set (a sustainable version of a shellac lamp).
Its a 10/10 from us: it gave us a high-shine manicure at home that lasted for more than 10 days. It did take us around 30 minutes all in all to complete, but it was totally worth it for the results.
Nailberry hot coco time to hygge
Best: For luxury
Containing some of our favourite winter shades - think rich cocoa, forest green and dusty pink - this trio of polishes is all about cosy vibes, and seriously shiny finishes. So shiny, in fact, our manicure was mistaken for shellac.
We also liked the fact that the brand uses a 12-free (meaning they don’t contain 12 of the usual toxins found in your supermarket nail polish), vegan-friendly L’Oxygéné formula that helps repair damaged nails in the long run - we even noticed that our nails felt a little stronger after just a few weeks of use.
Rimmel London kind and free plant based nail polish
Best: For budget
The brand’s first foray into plant-based nail polish, kind & free, is Rimmel’s new make-up and nail collection with the aim to make clean beauty accessible to everyone.
It ticked a lot of boxes for us: affordable at under £6, coupled with a seriously glossy finish and sustainable packaging. We’d recommend this as a great top coat to help your colour stay put.
Peacci hubba bubba
Best: For shade range
Not only are there heaps of trend-led shades to choose from, but Peacci’s nail polishes really deliver when it comes to colour. Part of the brand’s latest collection named 90s baby, hubba bubba was by far the most pigmented shade we tested and the colour stayed put for at least four days.
Orly alexandrite by you breathable nail polish
Best: For shimmer
It’s rare to find a shimmery vegan nail polish, and especially not one that doubles up as a nail treatment, too. Free from any harmful ingredients, it helped protect our nail bed (a big win in colder months) and the shimmer finish didn’t fade for a good few days. We would say, though, that it requires a few coats to get the best results and that removal can be a little tricky.
Sally Hansen good. kind. pure vegan nail polish in golden quartz
Glossy finishes, unbeatable shade range, long-lasting formulas – we loved everything about Sally Hansen’s vegan collection. Free from any nasties, the 100 per cent natural and plant-based bristles were easy to use and the colour glided on smoothly and evenly. We used it alongside the vegan top coat to help prolong our manicure.
Revlon ultra HD snap! nail polish cherry on top
Best: For nail care
Hate waiting around for your polish to dry? Us too, which is why we can’t get enough of Revlon’s new Ultra HD snap! collection. Saving us time and effort when DIY’ing our nails at home, the colour was highly-pigmented and quick-drying, meaning we only needed one coat. It’s also infused with shea butter, spinach, avocado and green tea, so we didn’t have to worry about additional nail care.
The verdict: Vegan nail polishes
The Manucurist green flash set is by far the most professional-looking manicure you’ll get at home – and it really lasts, too. Those looking for purse-friendly alternatives will love the glossy finish of Rimmel’s kind and free polish, while Sally Hansen’s vegan collection yields the same long-lasting results as its original formula.
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