The Many Shades of Vegan Nail Polish

By sparklingsights on flickr

By sparklingsights on flickr

Vegan nail polish….it does exist!  I wouldn’t have believed that such a thing was real, but the magic of the internet has brought glee and giddiness in more cruelty-free shades than I ever thought possible. When I heard the words “vegan nail polish”, I instantly imagined pallid, lifeless tones in the simplest earthy colours imaginable, but I was very pleasantly surprised to discover this wasn’t the case at all, and there is a large variety of nail colourings to choose from.

You might be wondering what exactly makes most conventional nail polish non-vegan. In addition to being tested out on animals, many nail polishes contain tiny fish scales to give that shimmery effect that looks so pretty when they catch the light. The names that are given to these ingredients by the cosmetic industry are either “pearl” or “guanine” which are: “… literally made from small fish scales and skin, suitably cleaned, and mixed with solvents such as castor oil and butyl acetate.”

You may be asking yourself, where does one find vegan nail polish and what brands are worth buying? Well, there are many colourful, cruelty-free options available online, in health food stores and even at your average pharmacy. And we’ve scoped out a few brands that have great reputations and colours that stand out.

Sparitual "Wilde" collection

A fabulous company called Sparitual has created a line of vegan nail polish that’s also free of pthalates, toluene and formaldehyde!  (Bet most of you didn’t know that most nail polish contains a carcinogenic compound most commonly used in embalming fluid, huh?) Sparitual polishes contain no animal products, are never tested on animals, and are free from any synthetic dyes. We’re not talking about faint, anemic hues either—while they do have a selection of light colours (see their Airy Sopranos line of “mellow beiges and nirvana pinks”), their Kaleidoscope and Wilde collections boast intense, gorgeous hues like the glittery, deep crimson “Spirit Child”, or “Twinkle”: a roiling midnight blue.

Obsessive Compulsive Nail Polish

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

I haven’t tried any of the nail lacquers from Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics myself, but the reviews I’ve read of them thus far all speak very positively about them,  and they seem to have a spectacular palette of colours to choose from. These are professional-calibre colours, available in Satin, Matte and Metallic texture, and both Sheer and Opaque finishes. Their company is staunchly cruelty-free, and also adheres to Kosher and Halal guidelines.

Discovered via the Vegan Essentials website, Gabriel Cosmetics line of nail polish is entirely vegan/cruelty-free, as well as gluten-free. Their line has 20 different shades to choose from. If you check out their FAQ section, you’ll see that they have posted in detail about where they source their different ingredients and pigments (i.e. reds from St. John’s Word extract, and grapeseed extract as a preservative).

e.l.f. nail polishes are available in over 30 shades, though they’re mostly in purple and grey hues. They have great reviews across the web, and are one of the most affordable vegan nail polishes out there. Some other brands to try out include ABL (A Beautiful Life), Butter London, Priti NYC, No Miss, Zoya and Scotch Naturals.

The nail colours we’ve listed here are beautiful, cruelty-free, and far more healthy for both us and the environment than traditionally-made nail colours. The next time you’re at the salon or manicure/pedicure place, be sure to ask them if they use vegan products, and have a bottle or two of your own shimmy goodness on hand if they don’t: the more demand there is for vegan products, the more likely places are to stock them, and showing them that the quality of vegan polish is as good as what they’re already using may encourage shop owners to include a line of cruelty-free options for their patrons. Maybe even switch over entirely. *grin* We can hope…

What’s your fave brand of vegan nail polish?


  1. Bridget

    What about Zoya nail polish. I heard it was non-toxic. What is your opinion on that brand?


    There are some great vegan polish brands mentioned in this article, but my favorite brand was not mentioned, Zoya. Vegan, cruelty-free, 4-Free; toluene, formaldehyde, DBT, and camphor. Over 350 shades to choose from. Available online at No, I don’t work for the company, just a huge fan!

  3. Cat

    No Miss is my favorite, which I first learned about from Sunny at Vegan Beauty Review. I’m actually wearing it right now. :)

  4. I haven’t tried Zoya or No Miss, but thanks for the tips! Added links to them too :)

  5. Kirsty

    Oooh, I love nail varnish, and you’ve given me some ‘new’ brands to look in to :)

    I currently use only Barry M, but they are a great product – vegan (of course! as are lot of their other products), plus the offer a great range of colours and effects (crackle/foil), and pretty cheap too :)

    They’re based here in the UK, but ship internationally.

  6. I think these are great vegan nail varnishes. There sloads of different collours available here!I didnt know non vegan nail varnishes had fish scales in thats horrible!

  7. Has anyone tried Scotch Natural Water nail polish?

  8. Bonnie

    I LOVE No Miss. I love to use it on my toes. It has been 4 weeks since my last polish change and it still looks like I polished them today! Amazing stuff!

  9. I LOVE Authority Cosmetics! New line, great colors, vegan friendly and cruelty free.

Leave a Comment