Vegan nail polish is the kindest way to achieve a great manicure – here are the best ones

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Vegan nail polish is the kindest way to achieve a great manicure – here are the best ones


PSA: vegan nail polish doesn’t mean compromising on your manicure. With brands working hard to create formulas that are long-lasting, have excellent colour pay off and paint on perfectly (no-one wants brush strokes or a bobbly finish), there are now plenty to choose from.

But did you know that there was even a thing such as vegan nail polish? Here’s the lowdown on what actually makes it vegan, and some of our top polish picks to point you in the right direction.

What makes a nail polish vegan?

Figuring out if a nail polish is vegan can be an impossible task. Probably because the vast majority of us don’t have a clue what any of the ingredients on a nail polish label are in the first place – ethyl acetate, nitrocellulose, or adipic acid anyone? There are several animal-derived ingredients used by some beauty brands. “To constitute a polish as vegan, it needs to be formulated without any animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax, lanolin, gelatine, and carmine. If a brand is labelled as ‘cruelty-free’, it only means they do not test on animals, not that their products don’t include animal-derived ingredients,” explains Tinu Bello, celebrity manicurist and Mylee ambassador.

Is vegan nail polish better for your nails?

Many think so, yes. Because they tend to use less chemicals and are planet-positive as well as animal-friendly, it means that they won’t degrade the health of your nails. “They are generally formulated to promote healthy nails and work to protect your nails from external elements as well as strengthen your nail bed and prevent brittleness,” continues Tinu.

The best vegan beauty brands *everyone* should know about

Can you easily buy vegan gel polish?

Absolutely, and brands like Mylee and Manicurist offer at home gel kits that give great glossy results. Most salons now offer vegan gel manicures too, although never be afraid to ask. One watch-out-for-it ingredient is shellac (to be clear – not the brand Shellac). That’s because shellac is actually a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in India and Thailand, that’s used in top coats – as it creates a super glossy finish. The resin is scraped off the tree bark and heated over high temperatures, with 50,000 lac bugs required to produce just one kilogram of shellac.

Another no-go ingredient is guanine, which comes from fish scales and gives a shimmery, iridescent finish or ‘pearlescent effect’ – although these days, most brands use artificial resins as well as synthetic pearls to achieve the same effects.

Is nail varnish remover vegan?

Sometimes nail varnish removers can contain lanolin to reduce moisture loss in the nails, and gelatin to strengthen nails – both are animal-derived, so it’s a case of checking the ingredients list. But in general, most nail polish removers are usually vegan friendly. They do contain chemicals though – so if you want a gentler option, go vegan.

Read on to shop some of our favourite vegan nail polish shades…





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