The 14 Best OPI Nail Polishes of 2023

Our best overall pick is OPI Nail Lacquer in Bubble Bath

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Best OPI Nail Colors

Byrdie / Amelia Manley

Those of us who have gotten professional manicures are very familiar with the following situation: You walk through the door of your nail salon, are told to pick a color, and then face that daunting wall of lacquers. There can only be one, yet it can feel near impossible to select a winner from so many shades. We’re not ashamed to admit that on some occasions, we’ve spent more than five minutes hemming and hawing before choosing a hue. If you do your own manicures, choosing the right shade is also important—and you want to make sure you go with a salon-quality brand, like OPI, for long lasting coverage, and a glossy, pro finish.

Byrdie Researched & Approved

Though it was hard to name just one shade as the best of them all, OPI Nail Lacquer in Bubble Bath earned that distinction because of its ultimate wearability. For something with a darker hue, consider OPI Nail Lacquer in Lincoln Park After Dark, a classic dark purple that's perfect for the fall and winter seasons.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to narrow things down by picking a brand first, then going from there. A classic salon fave is OPI, a brand that’s been on the beauty scene since 1981. In addition to being recognized for its broad range of shades that include more unexpected colors, OPI is beloved for its many cheeky and punny polish names. We’ve combed through OPI’s huge assortment of nail polishes and picked our favorites. These shades offer good coverage, suit a range of skin tones, and satisfy all your moods, whether you want a bold statement color or something more subtle. We’ve also tapped two experts, who weighed in by sharing their top shades and go-to nail tips for how to wear these top-rated OPI polish favorites.

Best Overall

OPI Nail Lacquer in Bubble Bath

OPI Nail Lacquer in Bubble Bath

Opi

What We Like
  • Can be worn anytime, anywhere

  • Works on a variety of skin tones

What We Don't Like
  • Can be streaky with one coat

This sheer light pink rules supreme for its versatility. Despite its fair hue, it’s flattering on all skin tones and is the perfect choice for work, weddings, and every occasion in between. Celebrity nail artist Trenna Seney refers to it as “clean” and “sweet,” and we’d have to agree.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Sheer | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Fall

OPI Nail Lacquer in Lincoln Park After Dark

OPI Nail Lacquer in Lincoln Park After Dark

Amazon

What We Like
  • Flatters all skin tones

  • Great alternative to black

  • Moody without being "goth"

What We Don't Like
  • Dark color can be hard to fully remove

One of the brand’s most iconic shades, this dark eggplant hue was named by both our experts (and ourselves) as a must. “It’s my edgy go-to,” says Galdina Jimenez, OPI Education Manager for North America. “It gives boss energy—it’s an eye-catching color,” adds Seney. If you usually reach for red or black during the falls, this dark purple is the perfect way to switch it up.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Crème | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Nail Art

OPI Nail Lacquer in Bare My Soul

OPI Nail Lacquer in Bare My Soul

Opi

What We Like
  • A dressier alternative to a bare nail

  • Looks clean and professional

  • Chips are barely noticeable

What We Don't Like
  • May be too sheer for some

If you need “a little something” on your nails but don’t want to commit to a more vibrant manicure, check out the subtly mauve-nude Bare My Soul. “I love this shade as a base for negative space art, French manicures, and wearing alone,” says Jimenez.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Sheer | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best Red

OPI Nail Lacquer, Red Nail Polish

OPI Nail Lacquer in Big Apple Red

Amazon

What We Like
  • Rich color

  • Flatters all skin tones

  • Fully opaque in two coats

What We Don't Like
  • Not an uncommon shade, can be found at a more economical price

  • Chips are visible

Ready to turn heads? Try Big Apple Red. “It’s bold, it screams confidence and is definitely a part of ‘the red nail theory,” says Seney, referring to the philosophy that men are attracted to partners wearing red nail polish. It’s not too warm or cool, so it flatters all skin tones.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Crème | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Fair Skin Tones

OPI OPI Nail Lacquer in Baby, Take a Vow

OPI Baby, Take a Vow Nail Lacquer

Opi

What We Like
  • Makes nails look fresh and clean

  • Always appropriate

  • Easy "your nails but better" shade

What We Don't Like
  • Can be hard to even out with just one coat

This sweet shade is a milky baby pink that makes nails look healthy and classy, regardless of whether or not you choose to add on a French tip. Don’t be fooled: While you may think it’s the same as Bubble Bath, this shade is much sheerer and a little cooler in undertone…so you should just get both to be safe.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Sheer | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Medium Skin Tones

Opi Nail Lacquer in Cajun Shrimp

Opi Nail Lacquer in Cajun Shrimp

Opi

What We Like
  • Really pops against all complexions, especially medium

  • Great summer color

  • Red tone keeps the shade sophisticated

What We Don't Like
  • Could be too flashy for some

When a lot of people hear the word coral, they get a little wary—the shade can have a reputation for being cheesy. But not Cajun Shrimp. “This bright red coral color is super eye-catching,” says Seney, who loves using it on medium-toned complexions.


Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Crème | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Deep Skin Tones

OPI Nail Lacquer in Worth a Pretty Penne

OPI Nail Lacquer in Worth a Pretty Penne

Opi

What We Like
  • Looks pretty all year

  • Sparkles without being over the top

  • Excellent accent color for a nude manicure

What We Don't Like
  • Can be harder to find

This rose gold stunner offers a subtle and elegant sparkle that truly shines on deep complexions. Notes of copper and silver in this formula give it an almost foil-like finish. While we think this is a great choice all year, it’s an especially beautiful pick for the cooler months.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Shimmer | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Short Nails

OPI Nail Lacquer in Samoan Sand

4.2
OPI Nail Lacquer in Samoan Sand

Sally

What We Like
  • Sublte

  • Elongates the finger

  • Chips aren't very noticeable

What We Don't Like
  • Yellow undertone doesn't flatter cool complexions

This popular neutral is a favorite of everyday nail polish aficionados and celebs alike. Seney recommends using this on short nails for a sweet and easy look.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Crème | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Long Nails

OPI Nail Lacquer in Funny Bunny

4.2
OPI Nail Lacquer in Funny Bunny

Opi

What We Like
  • Subtle and elegant

  • Can be built to opaque with several layers

  • Looks good all year

What We Don't Like
  • Can be hard to create an even coat with one layer

  • Often sold out

This sheer, soft white is hard to find these days thanks to one Ms. Hailey Bieber, who popularized the shade when she wore it as the foundation of her Met Gala “glazed donut” manicure. It looks terribly chic on long nails.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Sheer | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Summer

OPI Nail Lacquer in Let’s Be Friends

OPI Nail Lacquer in Let’s Be Friends

Opi

What We Like
  • Very flattering on most skins

  • Bright, not chalky

  • Applies evenly

What We Don't Like
  • Surface can stain easily

  • Can be hard to find

We love this shade for the  summer because it makes skin look sunkissed, even if you’re incredibly fair. “It’s my favorite because of how it’s almost white, but not quite, because of its tint of pink,” says Jimenez.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Crème | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Brides

OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow

OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow

Opi

What We Like
  • Brightest, starkest white on the market

  • Opaque in one coat

  • Great for pedicures too

What We Don't Like
  • Chips can be very noticeable

Seney often paints French tips on brides—”they like traditional, cute nails,” she says, and uses this “super white” to do so. While Funny Bunny is a soft white, this one is a vibrant paper white shade that is a much more sophisticated version of the Wite-Out you may have painted on your nails in the back of the classroom during algebra. 

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Crème | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best for Work

OPI Nail Lacquer in Barefoot in Barcelona

OPI Nail Lacquer in Barefoot in Barcelona

Opi

What We Like
  • Professional but not boring

  • Timeless shade

  • Great coverage

What We Don't Like
  • Not super flattering on fair skin

If you want a professional manicure that isn’t too subdued, Seney suggests reaching for Barefoot in Barcelona. “It’s a safe color that matches any outfit,” she says. It’s a creamy neutral with rose and mauve tones to it—an almost clay color that feels very ‘90s. Those with very fair skin might want to go with a different neutral.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Crème | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Best "Wear With Anything" Shade

OPI Nail Lacquer in Less is Norse

OPI Nail Lacquer in Less is Norse

Opi

What We Like
  • Unexpected shade

  • Flattering to a wide range of skin tones

  • Opaque in one coat

What We Don't Like
  • May not be appropriate in very conservative settings

While a cool slate blue may not be the nail color that comes to mind when you’re looking for something versatile, it should be. “This shade reminds me of your ‘favorite jeans’ that just go with everything,” says Jimenez. We can see this mani looking great both with your fall leather jacket and summer linen caftan.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Crème | Size: .62 fl. Oz.

Best Shimmer

OPI Nail Lacquer in I’m Not Really a Waitress

OPI Nail Lacquer in I’m Not Really a Waitress

Opi

What We Like
  • Unique take on red

  • Very festive

  • Flatters most complexions

What We Don't Like
  • Not for the faint of heart

We couldn’t leave this shade off our list of must-have lacquers from OPI—it’s been a fan favorite since it first launched in 1999. The raspberry red shade features a luminous shimmer that appears to make each fingernail glow from within.

Price at time of publish: $11

Finish: Shimmer | Size: .62 fl. Oz. 

Final Verdict

Choosing our favorite formulas amongst OPI’s many options was a tough assignment, but the reigning champ was OPI Nail Lacquer in Bubble Bath thanks to its incomparable versatility. We also love OPI Nail Lacquer in Big Apple Red. Red nails are timeless, and the color payoff and vibrancy of this rich hue makes it the brand’s best in the category.

Meet the Expert

  • Galdina Jimenez is an Oceanside, California-based nail artist.
  • Trenna Seney is a celebrity nail artist based in Harlem, New York City.

What to Look For in OPI Nail Polish

Color

Perhaps the most important aspect of any nail polish selection is the shade. We’ve outlined a bunch of our top picks above, but we wholeheartedly recommend using those colors as a jumping-off point. OPI (as well as other nail brands) makes hundreds of hues, so when selecting your next mani color, don’t be afraid to go with your gut, or try something new—you never know when you’ll discover your next fave shade.

Ingredients

As beauty formulas have gotten cleaner over the years, so have nail polishes—but many lacquers continue to get a bad rap. This makes sense as polishes frequently contain chemicals that are recognized as carcinogens when tested on animals, though they’re used in smaller amounts. OPI is a three-free brand, which means its formulas do not contain three of the most hazardous ingredients commonly found in nail polish: Formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). 


Finish

Almost as varied as your nail polish color options are your choices for finish. The finish that you’ll see most frequently is a cream or crème finish, which means that the polish is fully opaque and creamy without shimmer or glitter. Sheer is another common finish, which is just that—sheer, allowing the natural nail to peek through, even after multiple coats. While OPI Nail Lacquer in Funny Bunny is a sheer white that’s perfect for layering, OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow is an opaque cream that creates a pop of white in one stroke. Jelly polish is similar, but tends to be in a more vibrant shade with a wet finish, while crellies are hybrids between jellies and crèmes. Matte polishes create a flat finish. 

Then, there’s the shimmer and glitter category: Shimmer, frost, and pearl are all pretty similar in that they give a slightly sparkly look to the nail—you may not be able to catch a glimpse of individual grains of glitter, but the polish will catch the light in a way that crème formulas cannot. : OPI Nail Lacquer in I’m Not Really a Waitress is a festive take on red with its subtle shimmer. Glitter formulas give off serious sparkle, but none are quite as fiery as holographic finishes—they provide a jaw-dropping, blinged-out look to the nail that makes them look like jewels.

FAQ
  • How long do nail polishes last?

    The length of time a manicure will last depends entirely on your lifestyle as well as the formula type. In the case of traditional lacquers like these, Seney notes that you can expect your manicure to stay chip-free for up to 10 days. (Gel manis tend to last about two weeks.) That said, if you tend to be tough on your hands—and that includes frequent dishwashing—or use your nails as tools, your mani may not make it to seven days.


    If you’re curious to know how long a bottle tends to last for most people, Seney suggests about three months, if you religiously use the same color and keep your application technique consistent.

  • How do you make nail polish last longer?

    You may have heard the term “proper preparation prevents poor performance,” and that adage applies to painting your nails, too. “Prep is key to making your manicure last,” says Jimenez. She says removing any excess cuticle from the nail plate is important: “Gently push back and remove non-living tissue from the nail using an orangewood stick and OPI Exfoliating Cuticle Cream,” she says, then cleanse the nail with alcohol before applying your primer or base coat. 


    How you apply your polish also makes a difference in how long your manicure lasts. In addition to keeping polish off your cuticles, be sure to paint the tip of the nail, which will help prevent premature chipping. “Pros call this ‘capping off the free edge,’” says Jimenez. Once your polish has fully dried, regularly apply cuticle oil throughout the lifespan of your mani. “It will keep your nails from drying out, which will aid in the prevention of chipping,” she adds.

  • Do nail polishes expire?

    Like all beauty products, nail polishes do expire—and you can figure out when by looking at the back of the bottle for a small symbol that looks like a jar with a small number. “This image shows that the expiration time from after opening is 24 months,” says Jimenez, who uses the two-year mark as a guide. “This doesn’t mean the polish is going to go bad in exactly two years, but there may be a change in performance or shade shifting—my motto is when in doubt, throw it out.” That two-year rule changes for gel polishes, which have a lifespan closer to three years. “Since a gel bottle is not see-through, its life is longer versus that of a regular polish, with a bottle that can see light,” Seney explains.

  • How many coats of nail polish should you apply?

    Aside from your base coat and top coat, two layers of nail polish should be sufficient, though some shades may require three coats while others could only necessitate one. When you apply your first coat, it’s critical to lay it on very thinly. “You don’t want to clump on a heavy coat,” warns Seney, “I always say this: Your first coat of polish is for coverage, your second coat of polish is for color.” Once your first layer is dry—Jimenez says two minutes should do it—you can slick on your second coat, using a bit more polish than the first. “This is when the color is going to really show and be vibrant,” Seney adds.

  • What nail color looks most professional?

    What looks professional and what doesn’t mostly depends on you and your job. “Everyone has a different take on what is professional,” says Seney. “I think that clean nails with a great polish is professional.” She gave a few recommendations, including OPI Nail Lacquer in Barefoot in Barcelona,  light, soft pinks, true reds, and even moody plum hues.

Why Trust Byrdie

Byrdie contributor Emily Orofino has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry working across editorial, marketing, product development, and more. She is a nail polish aficionado and hasn’t had bare fingernails for nearly 15 years.

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