Byrdie Readers Share Their All-Time Favorite Essie Colors

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essie nail polish


In 1981, one Essie Weingarten created 12 stylish nail colors and began selling them in Las Vegas. Almost four decades later, Essie is one of the most recognized nail polish brands in the country. Beloved for its massive and always current shade range, matchless staying power, chip resistance, and unforgettably whimsical color names, Essie has won over the hearts of nail painters everywhere.

It's now fall-mani season, but with over 300 Essie polishes on the market, choosing the perfect hue can be difficult. Some Essie colors have outdone the others in terms of their iconic-ness, and since we know Byrdie readers are connoisseurs of the brand, we wanted to get their take. So we posted in Byrdie’s secret Facebook group, The Beauty Line, and asked our readers to tell us their holy-grail Essie colors. Let’s just say they had strong opinions.

Keep scrolling to see what they said. Is your favorite Essie color below?

Essie Nail Polish in Ballet Slippers

Essie Ballet Slippers

No single Essie shade has stolen readers' hearts like the soft pink Ballet Slippers. The color is "always my simple go-to," says a reader named McKenzie. Joey agrees: "Ballet Slippers is a perfect sheer for when you want a little something, but not too much color." As a third reader named Kate adds, "even if it makes me the most boring person alive, [Ballet Slippers] always makes me feel like A Real Adult."

“The only red I feel I can take myself serious in,” says Byrdie reader Erika of this vibrant shade, which a different reader named Joey calls “the perfect jelly orange.”

Essie Nail Polish in Midnight Cami

Essie Midnight Cami

This deep midnight blue punctuated with bright blue shimmer is another of Emily’s favorites. "It resembles the night sky and reminds me of my connection to the universe," she says.

Essie Nail Polish in Bikini So Teeny

Essie Bikini So Teeny

Mariana calls this flirty pastel shade "a fun blue color that’s very cute."

Essie Nail Polish in Big Spender

Essie Big Spender

This one's "a great magenta color that can be worn year-round," says Emily.

Essie Nail Polish in Wicked

Essie Wicked

This deep burgundy is a top pick for multiple Byrdie readers, who call it "vampy but classic" and "a great deep red for fall and winter."

Essie Nail Polish

Essie Nail Polish

Lovers of neutral colors are in agreement about this timeless shade. As Joey says, it's "the perfect, opaque nude without having any pink. Very classic."

Essie Nail Polish in Bordeaux

Essie Bordeaux

Another one on the vampier side, Bordeaux is "a deep wine which is a great alternative to black and it's more grown-up and sophisticated," Joey says.

Essie Nail Polish in Lace Me Up

Essie Lace Me Up

This dainty shade is "the most amazing pinky white color, which is great for year round, and it lasts forever," says a reader named Mollie. "Simply gorgeous!"

Essie Nail Polish in After School Boy Blazer

Essie After School Boy Blazer

Multiple readers mention this classic deep blue as a favorite. As one reader named Susan describes, the shade "is such a dark beautiful navy, when you put it on you can't tell if its navy or black."

Essie Nail Polish in Au Natural

Essie Au Natural

A Byrdie reader named Melanie calls this "a gorgeous sheer nude with a hint of sheen/glitter. So pretty and elongating for the fingers!"

What to Look For in an Essie Nail Polish


It’s all about the color when choosing between different Essie nail polishes. Remember that there’s no hard and fast rule about what colors you can wear throughout the year. Some people sport nude nails every season, while others are constantly experimenting with vibrant hues. Choose whatever color speaks to you! 


If you want a solid, glossy finish opt for an opaque nail lacquer. If you want your nails to look translucent, opt for a sheer polish. Shimmery polishes often come in either an opaque or translucent polish, whereas glitter polish is often mean to wear over an opaque color or on its own. 

Dry Time

Essie nail polishes typically dry quickly, but if you lack patience or don’t have the time to wait, look for a quick-dry formula. Additionally, you can apply any quick-dry topcoat over your nails to speed the process up.

  • Is Essie an "8-free" formula?

    Yes, according to the brand, its polishes are free of the following ingredients: formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde resin, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene and triphenyl phosphate.

  • Should I shake my nail polish prior to application?

    Instead of shaking your nail polish, which can cause bubbles, roll the bottle upside down between your hands. However, if your formula has separated from lack of use, you should shake thoroughly it so that everything mixes back together. 

  • Does Essie polish expire?

    Yes. Unopened, Essie nail polish has a shelf life of two years.

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