Shopping InStyle Picks We Tried 22 White Nail Polishes — These 10 Will Give You the Frosty Manicure of Your Dreams Static Nails Liquid Glass Lacquer in Elixir is a one-coat wonder that nabbed our top spot. By Alexis Gaskin Published on August 30, 2022 @ 12:58PM Pin Share Tweet Email In This Article Expand Jump to a Section Our top picks Reviews Our Testing Process What to Keep in Mind Your Questions, Answered What Is InStyle Picks? Why Shop With Us We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. InStyle / Jessica Juliao Nail polish was one of the first beauty products I fell in love with — and I still have a massive collection to prove it. When I was younger and too afraid to get a mascara wand or eyeliner close to my eyes, I could easily paint my nails with whatever color my grandmother had in her bathroom cabinet. But one hue I used to hunt for in the aisles of Walmart and Sally’s Beauty was a true white that didn’t require several coats to be seen. While there weren’t an exorbitant amount of options back then, white nail polish now comes in numerous forms: From lacquers with milky finishes perfect for a glazed donut manicure, to one coat whites ideal for a French tip, there’s a white nail polish for everyone. Not all polishes are created equal, though, so InStyle collected dozens of different white lacquers to test and find the best ones of the year. We gathered several testers to spend a few hours painting their nails to determine which polishes are worth the money. The lab testers took into account formulation, color, application technique, drying time, and final finish to find the highest-quality white nail polishes. Scoring the best is Static Nails Liquid Glass Lacquer in the shade Elixir, which is just as shiny and magical as the title suggests. Below, discover the best white nail polishes, according to InStyle testers. Our Top Picks Best Overall: Static Nails Liquid Glass Lacquer in Elixir at Staticnails.com Jump to Review Best Value: Essie Nail Polish in Blanc at Amazon Jump to Review Best Splurge: Dazzle Dry Nail Lacquer in White Lightning at Amazon Jump to Review Best Sheer: d.i.d. Nail Paint in Clean Slate at Getyournailsdid.com Jump to Review Best Glossy: Essie Nail Polish at Amazon Jump to Review Best Pearlescent: Taupe Coat Nail Polish in Pearlie at Blkgrn.com Jump to Review Best Opaque: Olive & June Nail Polish in HD at Target Jump to Review Best Off-White: Auda B Beauty Mother Of La Pearls at Audabbeauty.com Jump to Review Best for French Tips: Zoya Nail Polish in Snow White at Amazon Jump to Review Best 10-Free: Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro at Amazon Jump to Review Best Overall Static Nails Liquid Glass Lacquer in Elixir 5 View On Staticnails.com What We Love It leaves a gel-like finish without the need of an LED light. What We Don’t Love A minimum of two coats are needed to eliminate streakiness. Staying true to its name, this Static Nails lacquer looks like liquid glass on nails, leaving a bright, polished manicure on an array of skin tones. One of our testers was amazed at the opaque coverage that was thin enough to layer as needed. “It’s salon-quality, shiny, and doesn’t chip off right away,” they say. Not everyone is a nail polish expert, so the rounded brush makes it easy to apply even coats without the color flooding onto your cuticles. One coat leaves a true white color on nails, but it can look streaky if not followed up with a second coat. The long-wear abilities and bright color make this polish shine above the rest, and when paired with the brand’s primer and top coat, you’ll have a flawless salon-quality manicure for a fraction of the cost. Price at time of publish: $16 Size: 0.4 fl. oz. | Finish: Opaque Shine | Certifications: 8-free, Vegan, Cruelty-free InStyle / Tamara Staples InStyle / Jessica Juliao Best Value Essie Nail Polish in Blanc 5 View On Amazon View On Target View On Walmart What We Love The polish dries quickly so you don’t have to wait long in between coats. What We Don’t Love The consistency can get gunky after a few months of use. Essie polish has a special place in my heart for its low-cost selections that don’t skimp out on quality. This specific shade is the whitest of whites from the brand, creating an extremely opaque surface that isn’t sheer in the slightest. “The polish applied smoothly and evenly, but the first coat was slightly streaky,” says one tester. The streakiness disappears with a second coat, and leaves your nails with a full, rich white hue. Dry time is also speedy compared to other polishes: According to our testers, their nails were fully dry in 20 minutes. “I always press on my nail polish to determine if it’s dry, and I pressed very hard, but there was no residual imprint in the polish,” one tester says. The only downside is that Essie polishes tend to get goopy over time. To avoid this, it’s essential to store it upright — doing so will prolong its lifespan. Price at time of publish: $10 Size: 0.46 fl. oz. | Finish: Opaque Shine | Certifications: 8-free, Vegan InStyle / Tamara Staples InStyle / Jessica Juliao Best Splurge Dazzle Dry Nail Lacquer in White Lightning 5 View On Amazon View On Dazzledry.com What We Love You can get a completely opaque mani in two coats. What We Don’t Love A top coat is required for a glossy finish. Dazzle Dry is an AAPI-owned brand that prides itself on its quick drying polish formulas — and the lightning-fast dry time is what initially caught the attention of our testers. “I dried my nails for 30 minutes but noticed it completely dried at around the 20-minute mark,” one of our testers says. Since the lacquer applies smoothly, the dry time is faster than thicker polishes. This quality, thin formula, along with the slight curve of the brush, makes for a streak-free application, notes anther tester, “The polish applied with minimal streaking, and the second coat was completely opaque.” If you want a bright yet neutral manicure that won’t clash with a bright-colored or patterned outfit, White Lightning is the shade to grab. Just keep in mind that because this polish is semi-matte, you’ll need to apply a top coat if you want a glossy finish. Price at time of publish: $22 Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Finish: Opaque Semi-Matte | Certifications: 10-free, Vegan, Cruelty-free InStyle / Tamara Staples InStyle / Jessica Juliao InStyle / Tamara Staples Best Sheer d.i.d. Nail Paint in Clean Slate 5 d.i.d. Nail Paint View On Getyournailsdid.com What We Love The sheer shade applies evenly and doesn’t leave any streaks. What We Don’t Love The color leaves a yellow tint on some nails. Sheer polishes can still pack a lot of pigment, and that’s especially important with white lacquers because otherwise, they’ll look like a clear top coat. d.i.d Founder Adrienne Blanks created the ideal milky polish after years as a licensed nail tech. Aptly named, Clean Slate is a thin polish that dries quickly, and accentuates the natural nail. “Because it isn’t thick, the polish applied evenly, and dried in 15 minutes,” one tester says. As with most lacquers, at least two coats are needed to get the full-color effect; and while this shade is considered white, it has more of a yellow-gray tint, according to one tester. Price at time of publish: $14 Size: 0.4 fl. oz. | Finish: Sheer Shine | Certifications: 5-free, Vegan InStyle / Jessica Juliao Best Glossy Essie Nail Polish 4.7 View On Amazon View On Target View On Walmart What We Love The subtle pink tint complements fair skin tones nicely, as it’s not as harsh as bright white. What We Don’t Love Multiple coats are needed to cover streaks. One of the more sheer white polishes on this list, this shade is very elegant, and according to one tester, “extremely flattering.” The brand describes this color as a “cloudy light white” — and that’s precisely what it is. “The polish is shiny, and the shade isn’t too stark,” notes our tester. Since it’s on the sheerer side, streakiness is expected, but it evens out after two to three coats. This neutral shade still packs a lot of pigment with a subtle hue, making it an excellent color for when you’re indecisive, but want something on your nails. The first coat leaves a milky finish, while the second and third coats create a glossy manicure that is the best neutral color for a classy look. Because of how glossy the polish is, you can skip a top coat as this lacquer packs a lot of shine on its own. Price at time of publish: $10 Size: 0.46 fl. oz. | Finish: Glossy Sheer | Certifications: 8-free, Vegan Best Pearlescent Taupe Coat Nail Polish in Pearlie 4.2 View On Blkgrn.com What We Love The iridescent finish adds dimension to your nails and upgrades a traditional white mani. What We Don’t Love The polish takes longer to dry than other options on this list. Thanks to Hailey Bieber, glazed donut nails are the mani of the moment. Luckily, you don’t need to go to the salon or drop a ton of money to replicate the look — all you need is a pearlescent polish, like Pearlie from Taupe Coat. The Black-owned brand, founded by Bethany JP, focuses on small-batch, vegan formulation, and keeps quality top of mind. This sheer polish is buildable, allowing you to customize the final look. “With three coats you can get a light, milky color with an iridescent finish,” says one tester. She notes that the formula does take a bit longer to dry, and still felt tacky after 20 minutes. To speed up the drying process, try adding Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Nail Coat on top. Price at time of publish: $14 Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Finish: Milky Sheer | Certifications: 10-free, Vegan, Cruelty-free InStyle / Jessica Juliao Best Opaque Olive & June Nail Polish in HD 4.7 View On Target View On Oliveandjune.com What We Love The bright white color works well with just about every skin tone. What We Don’t Love The polish is dull without a topcoat. If you want an opaque white mani, you’ll want to use HD from Olive & June. Its smudge-free finish and thin consistency make for a smooth, professional-quality manicure without a high price tag. You’ll get a vibrant, snow-white color after two to three coats, with no streakiness in sight after the third. “The third coat applied a little bit thick, but it’s fully opaque and looks pretty smooth,” says our tester. The same tester notes that a topcoat will really take your nails to the next level and guarantees an even finish. “It doesn’t look goopy or streaky whatsoever on its own, but I think it needs a layer of topcoat to smooth and round out the whole look.” Since the lacquer layers well, it’s great to use when creating nail art, especially if you want to add swirls, stars, or zigzags to your look. It also looks beautiful on its own, and thanks to the neutral undertones, the polish works with just about every skin tone. Plus, here’s a fun fact: This polish is named after Haylie Duff, who, according to the brand, “lives for a white mani, so this polish had to be hers.” Price at time of publish: $9 Size: 0.46 fl. oz. | Finish: Opaque Shine | Certifications: 7-free, Vegan, Cruelty-free InStyle / Jessica Juliao Best Off-White Auda B Beauty Mother Of La Pearls 4.3 View On Audabbeauty.com What We Love The quick dry time. What We Don’t Love The brush size is very slim, making it difficult to get an even layer. When you think of off-white colors, creams or eggshells might come to mind, but try expanding your reach to shades that offer a little something extra — like metallic-flecked Mother of La Pearls from Auda B Beauty. This off-white shade is a fairy-like top coat that leaves an “ethereal look,” according to one tester. Pink pearlescent mica is added to the quick-drying formula to create a gleaming, metallic white. “A couple of coats were dry in no time,” our tester says. “I did a smudge test after 15 minutes and had no issue.” Before applying, the brand recommends giving the bottle a good shake to swirl the iridescent goodness for the best application. The only thing we’d change is the brush: The slim size makes it difficult to apply a single coat without re-dipping several times. Price at time of publish: $19 Size: 0.3 fl. oz. | Finish: Metallic Sheer | Certifications: 10-free, Vegan, Cruelty-free InStyle / Jessica Juliao Best for French Tips Zoya Nail Polish in Snow White 4.3 View On Amazon View On Zoya.com What We Love The cool-toned, true-white shade is actually white as snow. What We Don’t Love The formula is thick and can take a long time to dry. Through different nail trends — from line art to rhinestone decals, and 3D charms — one nail look stands the testament of time: The French tip. Content creator and nail tech extraordinaire Sonya Belakhlef is a huge fan of the French tip, and recommends taking your time when perfecting it at home. “There are so many variations on French [manis], so if you mess up, you can pivot and change the look,” she says. It’s such a classic design that you can’t be wasting your time on sheer white polishes that chip mere hours after painting, either. Zoya’s polish in the shade Snow White is our winner for creating the best French tip because of its thick formula that doesn’t need several coats to reach vibrancy, and the slim brush that makes application easy. “The polish is shiny, smooth, and even in texture,” notes our tester. That said, she also mentions that the dense formula takes longer to dry, but leaves behind a salon finish with a lasting shine. One downside is that the polish gets very clumpy as it gets closer to its expiration date, so be sure to use it up before it gets too old for the best quality. Price at time of publish: $10 Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Finish: Opaque Gloss | Certifications: 10-free, Vegan InStyle / Jessica Juliao Best 10-Free Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro View On Amazon View On Nordstrom View On Walmart What We Love The brush shape is flat and long, making it easy to apply a full coat in one swipe. What We Don’t Love Even with multiple coats, the final result can turn out streaky. Many polishes on the market (and on this list) are 10-free, meaning they’re formulated without certain chemicals. Replacing the bad with the good, Deborah Lipmann creates formulas with keratin, biotin, green tea extract, and more nourishing ingredients to promote nail strength. Testers love Amazing Grace for the opaque finish and quick drying time. “After just 20 minutes, my nails already felt dry and hard,” says one tester. “After 30 minutes, it was completely dry, and I felt like I could go about my day without smudges.” However, our tester did acknowledge that the streakiness of the formula is still noticeable even after three coats; though, this can be remedied by making sure each layer is dry before continuing. Another highlight of this polish is the brush shape which makes for an easy application. “The brush is flat, long, and slightly dense, which makes applying the polish to the nail easier — all it takes is one or two strokes.” Price at time of publish: $20 Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Finish: Opaque Gloss | Certifications: 10-free, Vegan, Cruelty-free InStyle / Jessica Juliao Our Testing Process Almost every brand has white nail polish, so InStyle made sure to pick through them all to find the best to test, based on editors' favorites, nail tech recommendations, and the lacquers that TikTok and Instagram can't get enough of. After collecting over 20 polishes to review, we gathered a group of testers to rate each polish on a scale from 1 to 5, with the overall winner scoring over a 4.3 in all categories. Our testing panel spent a combined 18 hours reviewing polishes on application, dry-time, and overall finish. After narrowing down the list based on scores, InStyle found the 10 best white nail polishes. What to Keep in Mind Finish Many nail polishes come in different formulas and textures that can affect your manicure or nail art. Even though we're talking about one specific color here, there are a variety of finishes available that can change the entire look of your manicure. Sheer white nail polishes like d.i.d. nail paint in Clean Slate and Essie Nail Polish in Marshmallow will have more of a milky consistency that gives them the translucent effect — meaning how it looks can vary between different nails. For example: If you have staining or other marks on your nail beds, they're more likely to peek through if you use sheer polish. Matte shades like semi-shiny Dazzle Dry in White Lightning hold no shine and can take more coats to get rid of any streakiness, while glossy white colors like Zoya Lacquer in Snow White are like kaleidoscopes and can catch different colors in certain lights. Application Though some polishes have a top and base coat incorporated into the formula, Belakhlef recommends using a separate base and top coat to ensure your manicure lasts as long as possible. Before you start, “ensure your nail plate is wiped down thoroughly, so [the polish] adheres properly," she tells InStyle. Orly Bonder Rubberized base coat is her favorite, followed by Seiche Vive Instant Gel Effect top coat after your color. Utilizing these products will guarantee the best results, and limit chipping. Additionally, it's essential to consider the brush that comes with the polish, as some can be too thin or wide depending on your nails. Use a replacement brush, like the ones from KB Shimmer when your brushes get stringy, or if you just want a specific size. This can help create a more even application, so fewer coats will be needed. Your Questions, Answered How long does white nail polish last on nails? White nail polish will last as long as you care for your nails. Per Belakhlef's recommendations, always use a base coat and top coat for the best results. You use your hands every day, so your polish may chip away through a lot of activity. Put on gloves before washing dishes to keep polish from peeling, or breaking a nail (seriously, it hurts). If you're anti-regular lacquer or want a manicure/pedicure that you know will last, opt for gel polish instead. What does 10-free mean in nail polish? Old nail polish formulas contain several chemicals and toxins that are bad for your nails, and the person painting them. In the past decade, nail polish brands have taken a more cautious approach to their formulas by taking out questionable ingredients including formaldehyde, toluene, parabens, camphor, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), xylene, phthalates, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), tert-butyl hydroperoxide (TBHP), and ethyl tosylamide. A nail polish cannot contain any of these ingredients to be considered 10-free. What Is InStyle Picks? Did you notice the InStyle Picks seal of approval at the top of this story? That means our team of testers has reviewed every product on this list using a unique methodology to ensure it’s really worth your time, money, and attention. We may get samples for free to try but we never promise positive (or any!) coverage in exchange. Put simply: InStyle Picks are products we love, and we’ve put them to the test to be sure you will too. Why Shop With Us Alexis Gaskin is a commerce writer at InStyle covering beauty and fashion, with the former being one of her favorite subjects to write about. She personally owns ten bottles of white nail polish, with her personal favorites coming from Essie, Static Nails, and Lights Lacquer. For this story, Alexis compiled all the data from InStyle’s lab testers, who reviewed over 20 white polishes to find the best ones in different finishes. She also spoke to the nail professional Sonya Belakhlef for tips and tricks on a white mani. Belakhlef paints nails professionally, having worked with various brands, from Diet Coke to the Row, and celebrities, from Lisa Rinna to MJ Rodriquez. Want more product recommendations? From best-in-class concealer to the black pants you need for work, check out all of our InStyle Picks content.