There’s nothing quite like a fresh manicure to make you feel like a human being again (ok, maybe a fresh haircut and color, too). After dealing with screaming kids, a demanding boss, intrusive relatives, or all of the above, the ritual of choosing a color, tending to your tired hands, and adorning your nails with a smooth coat of polish just feels like the epitome of self-care.
That said, sitting down for a professional salon mani isn’t always a feasible option, which is why drugstores are stocked full of nail polish options for at-home application. Sure, you can splurge on a high-end brand, but there are tons of wallet-friendly lacquers that get the job done just as well, at a fraction of the cost.
Because feeling put-together shouldn’t put you over budget, we’ve rounded up the 9 best drugstore nail polishes to shop now. Whether you’re looking for a bold pop of color, a high-shine metallic, or something that dries before the kids wake up from nap time, the perfect pick is right at your fingertips—scroll on and see! Pssst: Don’t forget to jazz up your digits with these fancy nail stickers!
Described as “a beaming yellow that ignites creativity,” this 7-free nail polish from Olive & June will transport you to the boardwalk. It’s as close to salon-worthy quality as you can get—it applies smooth with no streaks. Three coats or less (plus a top coat), and you’re good to go! Level up with a set of our favorite Olive & June nail stickers for a SUPER cute at-home mani/pedi. All that’s missing is a polka dot bikini or some summer-approved Birkenstocks for a splash-worthy look.
Tickled pink? Never tested on animals, ella+mila’s mommy and me-approved nail polish is perfect for a summer of fun. If you’re an aficionado of all things pink, then you know how hard it is to uncover *just* the right hue—enter “Pinkterest.” If you love pinning pink things, then this polish will be your visual mood board brought to life. Raves one Amazon customer, “I found the polish in Target in white during the COVID-19 pandemic. I used to get my nails done but being that the shops were closed I decided to purchase this polish for $11.39 and it was worth it! I’m like ‘Ella + Mila is expensive but this is the only white polish left, I have no choice.’ Glad I did take a chance. Better than all the others including OPI. This polish doesn’t chip after a few days like most. My nails actually last a week and a half.”
Orange you ready for a summer of fun?! Pun intended, obvi. 😉 Dive in with this playful citrusy orange hue from Essie Expressie—yes, the Essie you already know and love. We love the quick-drying formula and easy application angled brush that makes application easy for lefties and righties. Plus, there’s a boatload of colors to choose from. Says one Amazon customer, “Surprisingly high-quality polish for the price. It’s a great color, it dries very quickly and has a nice glossy finish. I’m not sure what the chipping will be like yet, I just received it and put it on as soon as I opened the box. It’s quite opaque and builds nicely, I was able to quickly apply two coats to each hand and have them dry completely with very little mess or fuss while my son was napping. Anytime I can throw on a nice coat of nail polish in a moment that my very active son is sleeping is a huge plus for me.”
Salon in a bottle? Yes, please and thank you. This one-stop-shop polish from Sally Hansen includes a base coat, nail strengthener, topcoat, high-shine finish, chip-resistance, and color (of course), to name a few. The hue is “Blush Against the World.” It’s the perfect everyday neutral—not too pink, but just pink enough—for all complexions.
According to reviews, this streak-free, bubble-free, at-home gel nail polish from Essie offers salon-quality shine and lasts up to two weeks. Oh, and it dries like really fast. Before you *add to cart*, check out this five-star review: “This is my go-to nail polish! I didn’t want to ruin my nails by using going to salon and getting gel or shellac and wanted to find a nail polish that lasted more than two days! This is the perfect solution. I can do my housework, wash dishes, and still have a beautiful manicure a week later. You must use the topcoat though, don’t skip it. Even though it’s a little more expensive, try it! You will get your money’s worth since you won’t be reapplying polish after the second day!”
Looking for a high-gloss lacquer that dries ASAP and lasts up to 10 days? This is the best drugstore nail polish for you. Go ahead and consider your hunt for the quintessential shade of red dunzo. Oh, and only one coat required! Simply put, “This nail polish is phenomenal. The color is beautiful and the quality top-notch. The polish lasts a really long time and doesn’t chip.”
This high-quality drugstore holographic nail polish goes on fully opaque with no need for a base coat. The result: Long-lasting Euphoria-inspired sparkle. Raves one happy customer, “I must say this is the best nail polish ever! It applies effortlessly, it dries quickly and the finish is like no other. Everywhere I go people literally stop and stare and ask me if it’s chrome and they’re always surprised to know its polish! I guarantee you total satisfaction if you purchase this product. It also wears well, all you need is a good top coat and you’re set!”
Is there anything more annoying than a mani that chips right away? Where typical nail polish deteriorates as time goes on, the ProLight technology in this CND polish means its resistance to chips only increases with exposure to natural light. According to WindsorMummy, “Great varnish! It glides on easily and dries smoothly. It’s quick-drying. I usually apply two coats. Even without the top coat, I find this is more chip-resistant than the average nail varnish. It’s removed really easily too. Looking forward to trying more colours in the Vinylux range.”
A cult favorite of professional nail artists everywhere, Seche Vite’s gel topcoat is quick-drying and glossy, and will keep your mani looking salon-fresh for days. One hyper-enthusiastic reviewer weighs in, “Without a doubt THE BEST top coat, I have used this for the last two years, and I would not be without it. You can paint this on your still wet nails without worrying it will shift the polish underneath, and it sets and begins to harden immediately. After about 10 minutes your nails will be completely dry and smudge-proof- it actually sets and hardens the layers of polish underneath so your nails are properly dry…not like the topcoats that make your nails *seem* dry, but will smudge if you knock them- or mark from the sheets if you go to bed when you think it’s set but it isn’t!”
Which drugstore nail polish are you picking up? To fill the rest of your beauty needs on the cheap, check out Scary Mommy’s beauty must-haves.