Let's be honest: not all are created equal.

By Erin Lukas
Oct 06, 2020 @ 11:28 am
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Christian Siriano NYFW FW20
| Credit: Courtesy of Essie

The year is 2003 and I'm once again bored during freshman math class (numbers have never been my area of expertise). So instead of following along to the algebra equations being solved on the whiteboard, I'm painting my nails black with my Sharpie.

While some of my friends used Wite-Out for their mid-class DIY manicures, I was into the dark, chipped nail polish all the musicians in my favorite emo bands wore (shout out to Pete Wentz), and the black marker did the trick.

But here's the thing: my music taste evolved after graduation, and so have my manicures. Now, instead of a marker, I use legit nail polish whenever I'm in the mood for a jet black manicure, especially during fall. There's just something about the crisp weather and cozy layers that make me gravitate towards deep shades.

Sure, all black nail polish might look the same on the outside, but take it from me: not all formulas are created equal. So, what makes a solid black polish? It has to go on evenly without any streaks, must be opaque with one to two coats, and it can't chip for days — unless, that's the look you're going for, which can be chic in its own right.

Find the eight best black nails polishes, according to a self-appointed expert on the shade, below.

VIDEO: How to Remove Your Gel Manicure Without Going to the Salon

Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Nail Color in Fade To Black

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You don't need to go to the salon or deal with DIY UV light kits to get a gel-finish manicure. Deborah Lippman's Fade To Black polish stays shiny and chip-free for days — without the nail damage. The formula is infused with conditioning and strengthening ingredients such as biotin, evening primrose, and green tea extract.

To buy: $20; nordstrom.com

Olive & June Nail Polish in E+M

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What makes Olive & June's jet black polish stand out is that the formula goes on evenly for truly opaque pigment. The brush is designed to completely cover each nail in three strokes or less, so it's good starter polish for beginners whose painting skills aren't precise — yet.

To buy: $8; oliveandjune.com

Côte Nail Polish in No.92

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Not too glossy, not too matte, this creamy Côte polish is just right. The raven black shade is formulated without questionable chemicals commonly found in nail polish such as formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene, camphor, formaldehyde resin, and triphenyl phosphate (TPHP). It's also vegan and cruelty-free.

To buy: $18; coteshop.co

JINsoon Nail Polish in Absolute Black

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For a noir manicure that looks fresh the entire time you're wearing it, look no further than JINsoon's Absolute Black. The 10-free formula has built-in UV filters that prevent the color from yellowing and fading.

To buy: $18; jinsoon.com

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Blacky O 

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Sally Hansen's Miracle Gel has earned cult-status for its ultra-glossy, super-pigmented finish that rivals a salon manicure. The formula doesn't chip or fade for up to seven days. No UV light required.

To buy: $7; amazon.com.

ORLY Nail Lacquer in Liquid Vinyl

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While this ORLY polish provides enough coverage with one coat, it doesn't stain my nails when it's time to come off. The gripper cap makes painting my non-dominant hand a little less awkward — and let's be honest — messy.

To Buy: $10; orlybeauty.com.

Smith & Cult Nail Polish in Dirty Baby

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When I'm feeling extra fancy, I swap my solid black polish for a glitter one. Even though this Smith & Cult shade is more sparkly than a disco ball, it's quite easy to take off. Bonus: I don't find random flecks of glitter on my face, sheets, and clothes after the fact.

To buy: $18; amazon.com.

essie Expressie Quick-Dry Nail Polish in Now Or Never

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Let's face it, you want your manicure to last, but not take forever to finish. That's where essie's newest collection comes in. The formula is designed to completely dry down in two minutes. So no, your black manicure won't smudge when you wash the dishes a few hours after painting your nails.

To buy: $9; ulta.com.