Vegan Nail Polish Roundup {Makeup Mantra}

2015 May 2 - by Nadya
With people recently reading about the true content of nail polish (it's bugs, guys) and getting justifiably grossed out, vegan nail polishes (which don't have bugs) are becoming increasingly popular.

This demand in the market has allowed more brands, which before now sold themselves on their 'cruelty-free' promises, to become mainstream choices for both vegans and non-vegans.  Below are all my favorite vegan (meaning both cruelty and bug free) nail polish brands.  From $2 to $20, vegan nail polish is pretty accessible no matter what your taste is.


Zoya is my absolute favorite brand of vegan nail polish.  Not only do they have an amazing collection of colors but the polish goes on so smooth and doesn't often need more than one coat.  They survive fairly well without a top coat.  Also you can get all your metallics, glitters, satins, and mattes in one place.  So convenient!

The only negative I would give is that they still haven't perfected their red blends and they can be messy, but then again I haven't found a perfect red nail polish yet that doesn't stain or need three coats.

Zoya also runs discount deals throughout the year.  Because they operate mainly online a lot of the deals are like 'Just pay shipping!' which is great because then you can stock up on these beauties.

With minis going for $5 and full sizes for $9, Zoya gives you a variety of choices for your polish.

butter London

Butter London can be pretty hit or miss for me.  I love their colors and the gift sets they make (every collection and polish name is a shoutout to British places and culture).  Their polish is extremely lux and indulgent with its thick formula and double-capped bottles.

I haven't yet found a color from them that is convenient to use.  Almost every time I use butter London the polish goes everywhere, and I'm lucky if it doesn't completely coat my cuticles.  But if you're a more patient manicurist than I am, butter London might just be your thing.

At $15 a bottle, butter London may feel a bit extravagant but when you realize they offer every single color under the sun (and you may have finally found your perfect shade of peach blush) you may be willing to spend.

Barry M

Back in London, Barry M is the drugstore brand that gives you free mascara when you buy two or more polishes.  They're also super into fighting animal testing in all their products. Basically they're the best.  (It should be noted that thought they're cruelty-free, not all their products are vegan.  Their polishes are both cruelty-free and vegan)

Barry M is an expert at both matte colors and special effect polishes.  Their Chameleon line are mostly metallic polishes that change color when a top coat is added.  Their Crackle line, like China Glaze's, adds a crack effect when applied over a bottom layer of color.  Barry M's Magnetic line uses a magnet to create gorgeous filigree patterns in the polish after it's applied.  These are perfect for sleepovers and the more intrepid manicurist.

At £3-4 ($4.50-6), these polishes aren't gonna break the bank and they're great dependable polishes.

1143 H20

It says it right on the bottle - vegan through and through.

Even though 1143 doesn't have too many colors to choose from, the colors they do have they do extremely well.  If you like creamy matte looks, this is the brand for you!

The polish is lovely and thick and doesn't even need a top coat.  Added bonus: when you're done with the look you can just soak your fingers in warm water and peel off the polish.  No gross alcohol remover required.  Also the polish doesn't smell.  Like  at all.

For $5-7, 1143 is great for a quick summer stock up.

Trust Fund Beauty

I adore Trust Fund Beauty's branding and personality.  With colors like 'Insta-Famous' and 'I Love My #Selfie,' it's sassy without being rude and it offers wit in spades.  Their formula is probably just as good as some of the cheaper items on this list, but when you buy a TFB polish you're buying the attitude and the truly perfect color palette.

You'll need a couple of coats for the TFB polishes, as they start sheer.  They do metallics and glittery polishes fantastically - they're the first brand I know to offer a glitter polish that is only like 10% glitter (perfect for me since I only glitz out at weddings).

The $10-15 pricing can be a bit much but TFB has fantastic taster sets and gift packs that really give you bang for your buck.


e.l.f. makes its name on being affordable and accessible for pretty much all makeup lovers. They are fairly dependable, go on easily with only one coat, and come in a sizable range of colors.  They pretty much always need a nice top coat since they dry fairly dull.  They also don't last particularly long.

You get what you pay for with e.l.f., which is sadly sometimes still better than other slightly more expensive brands.  With a top coat, any e.l.f. color is as good (or better if you count price) than the competition.  They are also extremely good at duping (or copying for those of you who are slightly confused by the makeup blogosphere's lexicon) more expensive brands.

Each bottle is only $2 so these polishes are great for trying out colors you don't normally go for.

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

OCC made its name on its stellar lip tars and bright, poppy colors.  Its polishes are no different.  If you've been looking for nail lacquer that actually looks like lacquer, OCC is perfect for you.  They polishes go on thick and stay shiny throughout.

While they have a few more muted tones, OCC's nail collection is primarily about really really bright colors.  It may not be for the average polish aficionado but chances are you'll find at least one perfect color even if you don't want to take all of them home.

At $10 a bottle, OCC ranks around the same level as other mid-range polishes on this list.  They're definitely worth trying at least once.

Beauty Without Cruelty

BWC is an erstwhile vegan beauty brand.  Chances are every vegan blogger, even if they mostly just talk about recipes, has mentioned them at least once.  As a brand they offer every single makeup item you could possibly want (and also shampoo and conditioner), but their polishes remain one of their heavy hitters.

These glossy polishes are creamy and rich.  BWC favors marbled polishes over matte ones, but they do them well.  My only complaint has to be the price.

At $17.95 per bottle, BWC is definitely a major treat.  It's perfect for gifts for your favorite vegan but probably not for casual color experimentation.

These are only a small sampling of all the vegan nail polish brands that are out there.  While many of the big brands like China Glaze and Sally Hensen remain non-cruelty free and non-vegan, you can find amazing dupes and substitutes that are.