Here Are the Best Dark Nail Polish Colors to Make a Bold Statement

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Byrdie / Amelia Manley

There’s something to be said about the perfect deep, dark nail color. It makes an impact, turns heads, and if applied precisely, can look like a work of art. What I love the most? Dark polishes aren’t just different shades of black. In fact, there’s almost always a moody counterpart to your favorite bright. "Think emeralds, midnight blues, rich browns, and more," says Syreeta Aaron, salon owner and LeChat Nails educator.

To get a gorgeous finish, it takes some special prepping when it comes to dark shades. First, make sure your nail beds are clean, free of any polish, and are filed. The next step, and possibly the most important, is to apply a base coat. Because bold colors can potentially stain your nails, you want to protect them with a barrier, advises Aaron. When it’s time to start applying your color, thin layers are the way to go for smooth, even results.

Ready to go dark? Find the best dark nail colors, below.

Essie Nail Polish in Licorice

4.8
Essie Nail Polish in Licorice
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Opaque in one coat

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't dry fast

Classic, creamy, and chic—this jet-black polish goes with everything. Think of it like an LBD for your nails.

Size: 0.46 oz. | Finish: Gloss | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Deborah Lippman Gel Lab Pro in Stormy Weather

Deborah Lippman Gel Lab Pro in Stormy Weather
What We Like
  • Strengthening

  • Vegan

  • 10-free

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

When classic black feels a little too deep, this dark gray is the perfect choice. Equal parts glossy and creamy, it also features strengthening biotin and green tea to encourage overall nail health.

Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Finish: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

OPI Nail Lacquer in Black Onyx

OPI Nail Lacquer in Black Onyx

Amazon

What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Doesn't bubble

  • Streak-free

What We Don't Like
  • Not opaque in one coat

Not only is this a true pitch-black shade, but the formula also boasts no bubbling or streaking. Reviewers report that it glides right on and provides complete coverage.

Size: 0.5 oz. | Finish: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

China Glaze Nail Lacquer in Star Hopping

China Glaze Nail Lacquer in Star Hopping
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • Won't thicken in bottle

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it is difficult to remove

Fancy the universe right at your fingertips? This midnight-inspired polish boasts flecks of metallic glitter without being too overbearing.

Size: 0.5 oz. | Finish: Shimmer | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

OPI Nail Lacquer in Malaga Wine

4.5
OPI Nail Lacquer in Malaga Wine
What We Like
  • Streak-free

  • Wide brush

  • Fast drying

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it chips easily

Is your nail polish collection even a collection without a wine shade? A sophisticated version of classic red, this deep burgundy is a winner all on its own. Juicy, rich, and pigmented, it’s a best-selling color for a reason.

Size: 0.5 oz. | Finish: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

What Our Testers Say

OPI’s Nail Lacquer in Malaga Wine was a treat for my usually neglected nails. Testing it reminded me of why I used to sport red polish all the time—it makes every outfit look infinitely chicer.” — Lisa Patulny, Product Tester

Habit Cosmetics Nail Polish in Creature of the Night

Habit Cosmetics Nail Polish in Creature of the Night
What We Like
  • Strengthening

  • Biodegradable caps

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

This vegan and toxin-free formula has everything you could want—myrrh extract to promote nail strength, biodegradable caps, and recycled plastic components. Plus, this multi-tone metallic navy has a shimmer finish that seems to change with every move.

Size: 0.3 oz. | Finish: Shimmer | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Orly Nail Polish in Air of Mystique

Orly Nail Polish in Air of Mystique
What We Like
  • Vegan

  • 12-free

  • Opaque in one coat

What We Don't Like
  • Ingredients aren't disclosed online

This deep teal is versatile—rock it during the holidays or for some fun in the sun. It’s got the perfect balance of bold and dark, and it only takes one coat to get even coverage.

Size: 0.6 oz. | Finish: Shimmer | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Suite Eleven Nail Lacquer in Mud on the Leaves

Suite Eleven Nail Lacquer in Mud on the Leaves
What We Like
What We Don't Like

Described as an army green crème, I am living for this dark take on typically cheery green. It gives me chic camouflage vibes—perfect for a boss babe who can command a room.

Size: TK | Finish: TK | Cruelty-Free: TK | Byrdie Clean: TK

Triple O Nail Polish in Nok

Triple O Nail Polish in Nok
What We Like
  • Smooth application

  • 13-free

  • Vegan

What We Don't Like
  • Not as readily available as other options

If I could name the best dark neutral, this timeless chocolate would be it. Users love how smoothly it applies and how well it accentuates their skin tone.

Size: 0.27 oz. or 0.5 oz. | Finish: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Bernadette Nail Polish in Conflict Diamonds

Bernadette Nail Polish in Conflict Diamonds
What We Like
  • Opaque in one coat

  • 5-free

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

Think of this color as diamonds, bottled. The backdrop of this polish is an opaque black, but the stars of the show are the show-stopping flashes of silver.

Size: 0.4 oz. | Finish: Glitter | Byrdie Clean: Yes

Butter London Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer in Brolly

Butter London Patent Shine 10X Nail Lacquer in Brolly
What We Like
  • Chip-resistant

  • Long-lasting

  • Strengthening

What We Don't Like
  • Pricier than other options

Not quite black and not quite navy, this polish shade sits right in the middle. The formula is chip-resistant and long-wearing thanks to polymer technology.

Size: 0.4 fl. oz. | Finish: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

LeChat Nail Polish in Maroonscape

LeChat Nail Polish in Maroonscape
What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Not opaque in one coat

Just like the flavorful wine, this full-bodied merlot shade is packed with depth and color. “It’s one of my go-to dark shades,” says Aaron. And we can see why—this bold hue would pair great with just about anything.

Size: 0.5 oz. | Finish: Cream | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Zoya Professional Lacquer in Willa

Zoya Professional Lacquer in Willa
What We Like
  • Opaque in one coat

  • 10-free

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note the polish thickens quickly

Intensely dark and rich, this blacker than black polish is incredibly pigmented. Users report only needing one coat to achieve their desired look. The best part: the formula is 10-free.

Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Finish: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: Yes

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Wild for Violet

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Polish in Wild for Violet
What We Like
  • Long-lasting

  • No UV light necessary

  • Smooth application

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note color doesn't match online picture

Hey, purple can be super-chic, too. Just take a look at this perfectly gloomy shade—it’s dark and creamy but still feels vibrant. Remember to follow up with the brand’s top coat to seal in the formula.

Size: 0.5 fl. oz. | Finish: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: No | Byrdie Clean: No

Nails Inc. Plant Power Nail Polish in Swear by Salutation

Nails Inc. Plant Power Nail Polish in Swear by Salutation
What We Like
  • Eco-friendly

  • 21-free

  • Long-lasting

What We Don't Like
  • Reviewers note it is difficult to remove

This formula, which is 21-free and 73% plant-based, is as natural and eco-friendly as it gets. I also love how moody this dark red is—it’s classic with a slight twist, ideal for when you want to change it up without going too left field.

Size: 0.4 oz. | Finish: Glossy | Cruelty-Free: Yes | Byrdie Clean: Yes

What to Look For in a Dark Nail Polish

Nail-strengthening ingredients

Look for ingredients that promote healthy, stronger nails when choosing a polish. Key players include biotin, which strengthens nails.

Undertones

We've said it before and we'll say it again, undertones matter. When it comes to nail polish, we fully support you wearing any shade you please, but when looking for a dark polish that compliments your skin best, defer to your tones and undertones. For cool undertones, opt for a blue or purple dark polish. For warm undertones, opt for a dark red or orange polish. And for neutral undertones (the lucky ones) you can grab just about any nail color off the shelf.

Brand

Once you've decided on the perfect color in your mind, it's important to make sure you choose the right brand. Defer to our Complete Guide to the 14 Best Nail Polish Brands Out There to ensure that you pick a brand that works and will keep your nails healthy and beautiful before and after the polish.

FAQ
  • Are there different types of nail polish?

    Yes, more than you think. Polishes can vary from matte to holographic, crème to magnetic. Other popular formulas include chrome, glitter, gel, foil, and pearl.

  • What is best way to do manicure at home?

    Prepare the nails by cutting, filing, buffing, and pushing the cuticles back for a fresh base. Follow by adding your basecoat, and then your polish. Add a topcoat, dry your nails, and admire your work of art. Check out our complete guide to the perfect DIY mani here.

  • Are nail strengtheners helpful?

    Yes, nail strengtheners can be helpful when needed. Fragile nails, which often stem from the use of gel, acrylic, or other damaging manicures need a break from time to time, and during that break, a strengthener can be your nail's best friend. Often infused with essential vitamins, proteins, and other ingredients to make your nails both harder and stronger, applying a strengthener is one of the best ways to help your nails recover.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Lipner SR, Scher RK. Biotin for the treatment of nail disease: what is the evidenceJ Dermatolog Treat. 2018;29(4):411-414.

  2. Chessa MA, Iorizzo M, Richert B, et al. Pathogenesis, clinical signs and treatment recommendations in brittle nails: a reviewDermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2020;10(1):15-27.

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