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Nail Love! Refresh Your Style on the Cheap with These 5 Amazing and Affordable Nail Polishes

Pssst…here’s a secret you should know: Cheap nail polish is the simplest way to update your wardrobe. And you know we love cheap and simple. But we all hate chips, and no one has time to redo her polish every single day. So there’s definitely a limit to how “cheap” we want our polish to be.

My favorite polish is Lakur by Londontown. The collection includes high-pigment colors and it stays put for days. But there’s downside. The stuff sets you back $16 a bottle. And when you can buy a decent polish for $5, that price point seems excessive for everyday wear.

For regular, everyday occasions, a budget drugstore polish does the job nicely. Here are five cheap polishes I use and love.

Cheap Nail Polish: 5 Picks

1. Opi

Before the advent of luxury nail polish, O.P.I. polish was the high-end brand. And at $8.69 a bottle, it’s definitely pricey relative to other drugstore options. But that price tag is worth it. O.P.I. polish is reliable and comes in a great range of colors. This pink is a lovely, fresh choice for winter when you’re wishing things would heat up and spring would just get here already.

Pick up O.P.I. polish at Target or Walgreen’s.

2. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri

Love having shiny, colorful nails but hate the wait time? Yeah, me too. It’s tough for me to sit still long enough for my nails to dry. I have that urge to multitask, and that backfires when I smear my polish.

That’s why I picked up a bottle of Sally Hansen Insta-Dri in a slate gray. It does dry faster than the norm, and I like it’s longevity. And the price tag, at $4.59 a bottle, is pretty nice too.

Find Insta-Dri at Target or Walmart.

3. Essie

Essie Nail Polish in Nailed It
essie nail polish in Nailed It, $8.99, Target

essie polish is another brand I’d put in the premium drugstore category. You can get it almost anywhere, though the price seems steep compared to Wet ‘n Wild and other ultra-budget options. But I’d venture to say you’ll spend less on essie polish overall than you would on a $2 polish, because it’ll last longer than one day. The colors are fabulous and it lays down a high-quality, shiny finish.

4. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish

If you love bold color on your fingertips, give Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish a look. The palette of options includes the usual mauves and peaches, along with some spring favorites that’ll add pop to any outfit.

This is not a gel polish that requires any special equipment, either. Put it on with the brush that’s in the bottle and swipe it off with polish remover when it’s time to make a change.

5. Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy

Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Polish
Revlon ColorStay Gel Envy Longwear Polish, $7.99, Walmart

My hobby of choice is horse riding, which is really challenging on nail polish. Revlon’s ColorStay Longwear polish, combined with the brand’s topcoat, is the most durable polish I own. I can pick hooves, pull off bell boots, get my finger stuck tightening a girth, and still my polish stays. And if all of that sounds like another language, let’s just say I’ve tested this polish and it passed.

You can find Revlon ColorStay polish at most Walmarts.

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Friday 23rd of August 2013

You have an article of "Best mail polish UNDER $5" but yet 2 of the 5 are OVER that price. $8 is NOT a cheap nail polish!


Friday 23rd of August 2013

Hi prettynails-- prices may have changed since the time the article was written (October 2011). We'll be sure to keep an update of this story in mind during our editorial roundtables!

Carolyn Gist

Monday 7th of November 2011

For nails, I love Sinful Colors. In my opinion it is comparable to OPI and at a much better price. Beautiful colors and longwearing.

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